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LinkedIn's CEO Is Your Next High-Profile 'Softie

With the LinkedIn acquisition, expect Jeff Weiner to be a major player at Microsoft. The question is, for how long?

The top executives of large companies that Microsoft acquires frequently become major movers and shakers within Microsoft, at least for a while. See Bates, Tony; Elop, Stephen; and Ozzie, Ray.

Nowhere is that more likely to be true than for the CEO of the company that Microsoft is spending more money to acquire than it has spent on any company in the past, LinkedIn.

So who is Jeff Weiner, the lightly-bearded/heavily-stubbled CEO of LinkedIn, who will retain that job title overseeing a largely independent LinkedIn business unit for Microsoft should the deal close as expected this year?

He's a Silicon Valley star who held prominent positions at Yahoo Inc. from 2001 to 2008, winding up as the executive vice president of the Network Division, which involved managing 3,000 employees and running Yahoo's Front Page, Mail, Search and Media products.

After Yahoo, he was briefly an executive in residence at venture capital firms Accel Partners and Greylock before joining LinkedIn in December 2008 as president in a management shakeup that saw founder Reid Hoffman retake the CEO role. Weiner was named CEO a mere six months later, after what many in the industry viewed as a trial run as president.

During Weiner's tenure as CEO, LinkedIn has gone from about 42 million registered profiles to 433 million and went public in May 2011.

By all accounts, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Weiner are getting along famously. "Long before Satya and I first sat down to talk about how we could work together, I had publicly shared my thoughts on how impressive his efforts were to rapidly transition Microsoft's strategy and culture," Weiner wrote in a letter to LinkedIn employees about the deal.

In his own e-mail to the LinkedIn staff, Nadella wrote, "From the moment I met Jeff I knew he was a special leader creating a special place at LinkedIn -- your sense of purpose is palpable."

Weiner is also close to Qi Lu, executive vice president of the Applications and Services Group at Microsoft. The two worked together at Yahoo.

An open question is how long Weiner will remain at Microsoft. His name has been bandied about as a potential replacement when Disney CEO Bob Iger retires. Asked directly about how long he plans to stay by Re/code's Kara Swisher this month, Weiner reportedly answered that he was staying put.

Posted by Scott Bekker on June 24, 2016 at 10:37 AM


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