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LinkedIn Integration Continues with Hoffman Named to Microsoft Board

While the technical integration of Microsoft and LinkedIn awaits significant movement, the cultural integration took another step forward with the naming of LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman to the board of Microsoft this week.

A member of the "PayPal Mafia" alongside Elon Musk and Peter Thiel, the 49-year-old Hoffman brings a Silicon Valley insider's perspective to the Microsoft boardroom. He is currently a partner with Greylock Partners, and his other board positions include Edmodo, Convoy, Blockstream, Wrapp and

"We continually evaluate opportunities to bring fresh thinking and new perspectives to our board, and Reid's appointment reflects that," said Microsoft Chairman John W. Thompson in a statement. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella called himself a longtime admirer of Hoffman's.

Hoffman had been rumored to be headed to the board since the $26 billion merger was announced last June, but the move took effect on Tuesday. One sticking point had reportedly been his membership on the board of Mozilla Corp., which has been engaged in a long-running war over browser market share and sometimes philosophy with Internet Explorer, Edge and Microsoft generally. He left the Mozilla seat after 11 years on Jan. 31.

The board placement is the third major mixing of high-level LinkedIn personalities into the Microsoft corporate stew.

The first move was to keep Jeff Weiner as CEO of a LinkedIn business unit, with the idea being that he would continue running LinkedIn's existing business to drive revenue and profit.

A longer-range move, with an eye toward the eventual, promised integrations of Microsoft and LinkedIn technologies, was to name LinkedIn Senior Vice President of Engineering Kevin Scott the chief technology officer for all of Microsoft in late January. Nadella's first task for Scott is to integrate the Microsoft Graph with the LinkedIn Graph.

The Microsoft Graph is Microsoft's single API for accessing data from all of Microsoft's professional cloud services and also for applying machine learning to data in those services. The initial rollout in late 2015 covered users, files, messages, groups, events, personal contacts, mail, calendar, devices and other directory objects and documents. Microsoft has gradually been rolling other services and targets into the Microsoft Graph.

The vision for the LinkedIn Graph is to create a virtual representation within the LinkedIn platform of nearly the entire global business community -- with listings for 3 billion members of the global workforce, 60 to 70 million companies, all job availabilities and all skills requirements.

Even quick-hit technical integrations have been relatively slow in coming, though, perhaps due to Nadella's publicly stated view that the problems that have dogged some of Microsoft's earlier merger integrations emerged from moving too quickly.

For more on where partners are hoping to find opportunity in the LinkedIn merger, check out the cover story in the latest issue of Redmond Channel Partner here.

Posted by Scott Bekker on March 15, 2017