Salesforce claims it would have paid even more for LinkedIn than Microsoft

It looks like Salesforce really, really wanted to buy LinkedIn. A new regulatory filing from the business-themed social network stated that its Transactions Committee discussed an email on July 7 from Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff. His email that the company would have paid even more for LinkedIn than the $26.2 billion all-cash offer that was accepted from Microsoft in June.

Microsoft and Salesforce engaged in a bidding war over LinkedIn earlier this year that caused Microsoft's first offer to go up by 22% for the price tag. In the filing made by LinkedIn to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, (via Recode), the company stated:

During the course of the meeting, the Transactions Committee reviewed and discussed with representatives of Qatalyst Partners, Allen and Wilson Sonsini an email to Messrs. Hoffman and Weiner that Party A's chief executive officer sent upon reading in LinkedIn's preliminary proxy a description of the events leading up to and following LinkedIn's call for best and final offers from Party A and Microsoft on May 13, 2016, and subsequent agreement with Microsoft to negotiate exclusively. Reflecting on the additional proposals it made after LinkedIn and Microsoft agreed to exclusivity, the email indicated that Party A would have bid much higher and made changes to the stock/cash components of its offers, but it was acting without communications from LinkedIn.

In the end, the committee determined that Microsoft's all-cash offer was a safer deal to make than the one from Salesforce. The acquisition is expected to close by the end of 2016, and LinkedIn's shareholders will vote to approve the deal on Aug. 19. If for some reason, the deal does not close, LinkedIn will be required to pay a termination fee of $725 million to Microsoft.

Google and Facebook were also actively bidding for LinkedIn according to Recode.

While consumers do not see the value in LinkedIn it sure seems all the big players in Silicon Valley wanted it badly. Perhaps Microsoft's $26B play is not so crazy after all.

John Callaham