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Salesforce also made a bid for LinkedIn, CEO Benioff confirms

Salesforce was also a serious bidder for LinkedIn, the business networking site that sold to Microsoft for $26 billion this week, said CEO Marc Benioff.

Benioff confirmed the effort, after I contacted him earlier today following a report that there was a second buyer also interested in acquiring in LinkedIn. That would be Salesforce, which was not able to compete with the huge premium that Microsoft paid.

“It’s the season of M&A,” said Benioff, who noted that there were a number of big properties now coming on the market, some of which are distressed and some of which are in need of a stronger partner.

“We gave it a solid look,” he said of LinkedIn. “We are always looking to help our customers in new ways.” Goldman Sachs was the banker Salesforce used, he said.

While he would not give details of the effort, sources said Salesforce was primarily interested in LinkedIn’s recruiting business, which makes up the bulk of its revenue.

Sources said LinkedIn was already deep into negotiations with Microsoft when Salesforce made its approach, which would have required both debt and stock financing. Microsoft was able to buy LinkedIn in cash and also promised to let it operate independently.

Interestingly, sources confirmed numerous reports that Microsoft had tried to buy Salesforce earlier this year, and both price and the way it would be operated within the company were among the issues that resulted in it not happening.

Benioff declined to comment, but said Salesforce will continue to look for other opportunities, noting that “we think we have a vision of how to rightsize assets … and we have to look at everything.”

Indeed. Salesforce recently bought Demandware for $2.8 billion.

Bloomberg also reported that Salesforce was a bidder for LinkedIn, but did not have confirmation from the company.


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