"I think it's possible we could have done it," at LinkedIn, Hoffman said. "But it also is risky."
LinkedIn and Microsoft first explored the idea of partnerships and product integration before settling on a full sale. Hoffman said a full integration was the best solution to bring value to customers.
"To reach a lot more people and to grow much more strongly, especially internationally, Microsoft brings all that," he said. "From Microsoft's perspective, we bring a network of individuals that tend to bring productivity to corporations. ... Those two things together make great benefit for the individuals and the corporations, and that reflects into kind of a good economic value."
Hoffman said he's already impressed by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's suggestions of how LinkedIn can be integrated into Microsoft's tools, while the company continues to operate independently. The two companies, Hoffman said, have missions that are "naturally aligned."