Let’s assume Microsoft understood why they would need either or both of them. They can certainly afford too buy both.
So assuming Microsoft saw value in acquiring both LinkedIn and Facebook, and managed to do so – what would change? What COULD change?
Microsoft would suddenly own the fastest growing Social Network AND the most established Business Network. What could they do with them?
If I were Microsoft I would immediately add OpenID to both platforms in a prominent way. I would not require a Microsoft Live ID to get a Microsoft OpenID – but if a user already had one I would attach it to the other. Suddenly I would have one of the largest OpenID networks on the planet.
I would build an API that connected the two in meaningful ways. I would open that API to others.
Microsoft could then also define the API that the Internet uses to connect disparate services. At least a huge part of it. And if they can drive adoption of the API as a standard then they are well placed to become the “hub” of the Internet. If you are sitting in the middle of ANYTHING you are well suited to profit regardless of what others do.
I don’t think it is a far reach for Microsoft to acquire BOTH of these companies in the coming months. I don’t see a better opportunity for Microsoft to seriously change the online landscape and send competitors (Google, Yahoo) scrambling. Sometimes the best defensive business strategy is to put your competition in chaos.
If Microsoft bought LinkedIn and Facebook chaos would follow.
But wouldn’t it be fun to watch?