Inside LinkedIn’s New Dublin Headquarters

20 Dec 2017 | 10.47 am

Inside LinkedIn’s New Dublin Headquarters

Microsoft colleagues in Sandyford must be jealous

20 Dec 2017 | 10.47 am

Microsoft clearly feels the love for Ireland, having first set up here in 1985. In February 2017, the software giant announced plans to create 600 new jobs at its Dublin facilities, adding to the 1,200 full-time employees already on the payroll in Ireland.

A sprawling new campus, with an office block as big as an ocean liner, now looms over Leopardstown Racecourse in south Dublin. The company is also investing a reported €900m to build four new data centres in Clondalkin.

Meanwhile, in a city centre building straddling the Grand Canal, Microsoft is the proud new owner of another office palazzo. The bespoke five-storey construction on Wilton Place was commenced by business social media network LinkedIn as its EMEA headquarters. Now, Microsoft has added that to its Dublin property portfolio, after completing the $27bn acquisition of LinkedIn in December 2016.

Whatever way you look at it, LinkedIn was a pricey purchase. In the first half of 2017, LinkedIn revenue was $2.3bn and the operating loss was $948m. Presumably, the heat is on in Redmond to make LinkedIn pay its way, but on the ground in Dublin it’s still full steam ahead.

At the official opening of the 17,650 metre building by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, the company signalled that it wants to add 70 more roles to the 1,200 people already employed.

Airy and angular, LinkedIn’s Dublin building is bedecked in Silicon Valley largesse for its young staff, who hail from 55 countries. The glass-fronted building with its discordant interior aesthetic was designed, says the company, “to create opportunities for LinkedIn staff and visitors to socialise, collaborate and exchange ideas”.

That translates to a grand staircase central gathering point beyond the main lobby, as well as coffee docks at the corners of the flights of stairs connecting each of the floors above. The lobby area is centre-pieced by a hand-woven tapestry created by Irish artist Áine Dunne, while murals and inspirational quotes adorn the walls and open areas.

The casual-attired employees can kill their down time by repairing to a music studio, a gym, restaurant, roof terrace or games room. Small computer-bearing cubicles, named after bands, sports people and other luminaries, are found around each of the five floors. The building also includes environmentally friendly design features such as a rainwater harvesting system, 250 bike spaces and weather-controlled automatic blinds.

For the moment, LinkedIn staffers can luxuriate in the niceties of Baggot Street and Mespil Road, while their Microsoft colleagues cope with the Sandyford traffic jams. That may not last forever, as LinkedIn integration with Microsoft is very much on the agenda.

Microsoft says 500 million people around the world have LinkedIn accounts. Prior to the takeover, LinkedIn generated two-thirds of its revenue from recruitment services, and the balance from marketing revenue and account subscriptions. Those revenue lines are still there, the challenge now is to up-sell LinkedIn subscribers with Microsoft products.

For example, earlier this year, Microsoft linked its Dynamics 365 product line of ERP and CRM applications with LinkedIn’s Sales Navigation tool. The move gives salespeople using Dynamics 365 access to LinkedIn’s huge user database. Microsoft is also introducing a HR tool to Dynamics 365, enabling users to sift through LinkedIn’s recruiter and learning solutions for new talent, as well as manage employees once they’re on board.

More recently, Microsoft announced the phased rollout of the ability to view LinkedIn profiles in Microsoft apps and services from within the Profile Card on Office 365. The idea is that after you connect your LinkedIn account to your Microsoft account, you can hover over a contact’s name to see information from their LinkedIn Profile, such as where they work, what they do, and where they went to school.

The initiative feeds into Microsoft’s vision of creating what it calls the universal toolkit for teamwork. Its new ‘unified sharing experience’, now in Windows, Mac, web and mobile, will come to the Office apps in the coming weeks.

“The new experience provides a simple, consistent and secure way to share and control access to files across Office 365, even with people outside your organisation who don’t have a Microsoft account,” says spokesman Kirk Koenigsbauer.

In July, CEO Satya Nadella unveiled Microsoft 365, which brings together Office 365, Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility & Security. Office 365, which does away with the need for in-house servers and e-mail clients, now has more than 100 million commercial monthly active users of Office 365, and Microsoft 365 is an evolution of that platform.

It comes in two flavours: Microsoft 365 Enterprise for corporates and Microsoft 365 Business for businesses with up to 300 users, priced at $20 per user, per month. The upgrade from standard Office 365 promises the following benefits:

• Microsoft Connections – billed as a simple-to-use email marketing service;
• Microsoft Listings – a way to publish your business information on top sites;
• Microsoft Invoicing – billed as a new way to create professional invoices;
• MileIQ – Microsoft’s mileage tracking app.

F1 Project

LinkedIn could also have a very much expanded community in the coming years, if Microsoft’s grandly named F1 project finds traction. Though Windows-powered portable devices have been largely shunned by consumers, Microsoft sees a future for employers offering cheap Windows 10 portables to frontline staff behind the counter, in the clinics, on the shop floor and on the road, as well as in the education sector.

The company is working with HP, Lenovo, Acer and Fujitsu to produce Microsoft 365-powered devices, priced from €200. They are being designed for cloud-based identity and management, with self-service deployment and simplified management. “This new plan will foster culture and community, train and upskill employees and digitise business processes,” Koenigsbauer enthuses.

“The modern workplace requires companies to be connected to a more distributed workforce, and provide the tools that allow all employees to create, innovate, and work together to solve customer and business problems. We see an opportunity for technology to give firstline workers a more intuitive, immersive and empowering experience.”

Viewed from the Microsoft 365 F1 perspective, Nadella’s enthusiasm for LinkedIn makes more sense. Upskilling and training is now a key part of the LinkedIn offering and the 365 F1 pitch is that the platform makes it easier to train and upskill employees. Microsoft Stream enables sharing of role-based content and video, and SharePoint distributes onboarding and training materials.

With Microsoft StaffHub, employers can monitor employee clock in/out and track tasks. StaffHub also now integrates messaging with Microsoft Teams, and highlights corporate announcements made on Yammer. From just organising the computers and what they do, Microsoft has moved on to organising the organisation.

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