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Microsoft is 'deeply' focused on driving LinkedIn revenue — not necessarily the bottom line, CFO says

Anita Balakrishnan

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT)'s ambitious acquisition of LinkedIn is about revenue growth, not cost savings, chief financial officer Amy Hood said on Monday.

"I'm focused on growing the top-line revenue and accelerating that business and its potential with ours," Hood said at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference. "To add more customers. To increase their impact. To have it grow faster. To accelerate our business. To have the technical integration to deliver customer value.... I'm deeply, deeply focused on driving revenue growth."

While "smart things will happen" in the integration of the professional social network, Hood said she's not worrying LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner about whether the two companies can share an accounting team. Like the story "Fight Club," (where the first rule is "you do not talk about fight club,"), Hood said her first rule of the LinkedIn integration is "just don't mess with it."

"You want to keep the core growing and they're doing a great job of that, things are good," Hood said. "They are motivated, Jeff's a great leader."

Still, Hood said, the two companies do plan to leverage each other's sales forces in the integration, as Microsoft integrates LinkedIn into tools like Office 365.

Despite her dedication to scaling LinkedIn, Hood said that Microsoft employees would probably say she's "cheap" when it comes to allocating cash. Hood said she focuses on return on investment, and she will shake down the couch cushions to invest in initiatives that drive revenue growth.

"If you ask anybody at Microsoft, could they spend more money, all of them would say yes," Hood said. "They should say that! They should say, 'Yes, I have so many terrific innovative, interesting, awesomely, impactful ideas, that you have to get me more money.' I love that, I love that energy, and I listen to some really fascinating arguments ....then my job is to take those dollars, every one of them, and ask myself if we're putting it in the right place."

In her wide-ranging talk, Hood also discussed Microsoft's cloud business and tax plans.

While Google, Amazon and Microsoft are considered the leading cloud services providers, Hood said she wouldn't count out companies like IBM (NYSE: IBM) and Alibaba (NYSE: BABA).

"I think the IBM cloud gets a lot of mention with very large customers, you see that those in the press," Hood said.

Hood also said that while Microsoft has long advocated for structured tax reform, CEO Satya Nadella is still waiting and watching to see exactly what new administration will propose.

"I know we've not been a company to until to wait on tax reform to return capital," Hood said. "It's not been a reason to wait for the board or for Satya, who cares deeply about the topic."

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