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How LinkedIn Defused Protest Over Microsoft Deal

In the weeks before Salesforce urged European regulators to block Microsoft’s LinkedIn purchase late last month, Salesforce’s legal team tried to get SugarCRM, a rival in the sales software business, to join its lobbying efforts. Salesforce, which also tried to buy LinkedIn, has argued that Microsoft will have an unfair advantage selling software to business users by getting deep access to LinkedIn’s data.

But LinkedIn contacted SugarCRM around the same time. To address some of SugarCRM’s concerns about the Microsoft deal, LinkedIn offered to give it and other companies—like Oracle, SAP, NetSuite and HubSpot—limited access to LinkedIn data. That would include a user’s name, photo and current title to help salespeople target leads. SugarCRM is still considering that idea and isn’t yet ready to oppose the acquisition.

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LinkedIn declined to comment on specifics around data sharing but noted the deal is “cleared to close the transaction in the United States, Canada, and Brazil and is continuing to work cooperatively with other authorities on the necessary approvals. We continue to expect to close before the end of this calendar year."

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Salesforce has said Microsoft’s access to it raises antitrust and data privacy issues that should be scrutinized by regulators.