One Unspoken Reason Behind the Microsoft-LinkedIn Deal

“Let me explain why.” Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn’s chief executive, wrote a lengthy memorandum to his employees Monday morning, ticking off a list of reasons behind the surprise decision to sell the company to Microsoft for $26.2 billion: Most important, he said, was the heft that Microsoft gives LinkedIn “to control our own destiny.” But there may have been another reason that he left unspoken. That would be the company’s struggling stock price and its reliance, some might say over reliance, on stock-based compensation. On one grim day in early February, LinkedIn’s stock price plummeted more than 40 percent after it forecast weaker-than-expected growth for the year. The share price had hovered at $225 at the beginning of 2016; a month later it briefly got close to $100.

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