Microsoft acquired LinkedIn over two and a half years ago, paying a whopping $26.2 billion in cash for the world's largest professional social network. It ranked as Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's largest acquisition at the time. Microsoft obviously has a lot invested in LinkedIn, financially and creatively, and in a nod to both, it has started beta testing a new video streaming service.
The service is called LInkedIn Live, and it is an invite-only affair in the United States at the moment. Those who accept the invitation and choose to participate can broadcast live video in real-time to certain groups, or even to the entire LinkedIn world. It's not clear if the service will eventually spread to all LinkedIn users, though.
In the meantime, Microsoft is focused on pushing LinkedIn Live as a way for companies to cover conferences, beam out product announcements, conduct question-and-answer sessions, and other events. Microsoft also envisions it being used by so-called influencers, because that is a thing in the social media age.
At the moment, LinkedIn is being very selective about doling out invites. It wants to showcase only polished videos. To help with that, the service is leaning on Microsoft and its Azure Media Services to handle the encoding. For the most part, Microsoft has allowed LinkedIn to operate on its own since acquiring the outfit, but is making an exception in this case. Interestingly, Skype is not involved in this real-time video play.
LinkedIn is joining the live video movement at a time when the landscape has grown considerably. Facebook and Twitter (via Periscope) both offer live video, and it's been embraced by companies and users alike.
"Video is the fastest growing format on our platform right now, and the one most likely to get people talking," Pete Davies, director of product management at LinkedIn, told TechCrunch in reference to the service's non-live video. He added that "live [video] has been the most requested feature."
While intriguing from a user standpoint, this could prove a smart business move on Microsoft's part. In its most recent quarterly earnings report, Microsoft noted a 29 percent jump in revenue from LinkedIn "with record levels of engagement highlighted by LinkedIn sessions growth of 30 percent."
In short, there is a world of potential here, with LinkedIn home to more than 560 million users. There is also a lot of competition that extends beyond Facebook and Twitter, with the likes of Twitch and YouTube serving up live streams. LinkedIn clearly thinks it can offer something unique in the space, and it will be interesting to see how it pans out.