LinkedIn Unveils New Products, Introduces Education Service

(Bloomberg) -- LinkedIn Corp. is redesigning its desktop product, improving the news feed and adding messenger bots, ahead of Microsoft Corp.’s acquisition of the professional social networking company.

The new desktop design is less cluttered and similar to a new mobile app rolled out earlier this year. Previously, the two felt “disjointed,” said Ryan Roslansky, a product vice president at LinkedIn, during a presentation in San Francisco. The company will also add a scheduler bot that can automatically check online calendars from other providers for available meeting times and suggest locations when two users are messaging.

"This is an area where we will be able to do some very interesting things with Microsoft," Jeff Weiner, chief executive officer of LinkedIn, said. Microsoft is heavily focused on artificial-intelligence-based chat software, he said.

LinkedIn also introduced a new product called LinkedIn Learning based on its acquisition of last year.

LinkedIn is being acquired for $26.2 billion after a forecast from the company earlier this year that it would grow more slowly than expected. That knocked more than 40 percent off its share price in a day, making it a cheaper takeover target. LinkedIn is looking for new growth in part by offering professional development and skills classes.

Microsoft plans to use LinkedIn’s data and social connections to enhance its products and help business people plan their days better. Dynamics, Microsoft’s customer relationship management software, could be boosted by LinkedIn’s social selling tools, which help people figure out how to cultivate sales leads through their professional networks, for example. LinkedIn, with more than 106 million monthly active users, could put its profiles more at the center of people’s work lives, giving them information about people they’re set to meet via Microsoft’s Outlook e-mail and calendar service.