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Microsoft Management Talks LinkedIn, the Cloud, and Gaming

By Daniel Sparks - Feb 7, 2018 at 11:36AM

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Here are some of the most insightful quotes from Microsoft's second-quarter conference call.

Microsoft's (MSFT 3.42%) second quarter continued to reinforce management's execution on prioritizing its cloud-based products. Its second-quarter revenue climbed 12% year over year to $28.9 billion, helped by a 56% year-over-year increase in commercial cloud revenue to $5.3 billion.

This was just one takeaway from Microsoft's strong second quarter. But the software and cloud giant's second-quarter earnings call was packed with insights. Here's a look at some of the biggest takeaways from the call.

Microsoft executive discusses the power of Microsoft Azure

Image source: Microsoft.

LinkedIn growth accelerated

It's now been over a year since Microsoft's acquisition of LinkedIn -- and so far, it's looking good.

"LinkedIn growth accelerated," said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella during Microsoft's second-quarter earnings call. More specifically, Nadella said LinkedIn is seeing "accelerating revenue growth and record levels of engagement."

Nadella continued:

The fifth consecutive quarter of more than 20% sessions growth. Appetite for conversations across the platform continues to grow, from sharing in the feed to video to one-on-one messages sent, all up more than 60% year-over-year.

Growth in messages sent, in particular, marked a significant acceleration from 40% year-over-year growth in Microsoft's first fiscal quarter of 2018.

Broad-based cloud growth

As one of the hot items to watch going into Microsoft's second-quarter earnings release, it was good to see that Microsoft's cloud-computing server business, Azure, saw exploding growth yet again. Azure revenue rose 98% year over year, up from 90% growth in Q1. But Azure wasn't the only growth driver in Microsoft's important intelligent cloud segment.

Microsoft CFO Amy Hood broke down the drivers behind the segment's revenue growth:

The Intelligent Cloud segment delivered $7.8 billion of revenue, growing 15%, with better than expected performance driven by hybrid cloud. Server products and cloud services revenue grew 18%, with another quarter of double digit annuity revenue growth. Azure revenue growth accelerated to 98%, with Azure Premium Services revenue growing triple digits for the 14th consecutive quarter. Enterprise Services revenue grew 5% and 3% in constant currency, as growth in premier support services and Microsoft consulting services was partially offset by declines in custom support agreements for Windows Server 2003.

Looking at Microsoft's overall commercial cloud revenue, or a grouping of commercial cloud products across Microsoft's segments that is primarily comprised of Office 365 commercial, Azure, and Dynamics 365, broad-based growth drove results. "Commercial cloud revenue was $5.3 billion, growing 56% year-over-year, with broad-based growth across geographic markets and customer segments," Hood explained.

Gaming: It's about subscriptions and active members

In Microsoft's third-quarter earnings call, Nadella said one of the two primary reasons he was bullish on gaming was the opportunity for building what he said is increasingly looking like "a Netflix for games." This vision includes game subscriptions that enable people to play games across all of the devices they play on, he explained.

While Microsoft hasn't quite hit this point yet, it did make key progress with its subscription-based gaming services and its monthly active Xbox Live members.

We grew gamer engagement again this quarter, with 59 million monthly active Xbox Live members, record usage of our Xbox Live services, record viewers of our new streaming service, Mixer, and record Minecraft users.

Some of the games included in Microsoft's Game Pass

Microsoft Game Pass. Image source: Microsoft.

Teasing the company's strategy to further emphasize subscriptions and monthly active users, Nadella said Microsoft's January announcement of exclusive Xbox One games for the Xbox Games Pass boosted the value of the subscription for members.

Between a range of catalysts in its cloud products and services, impressive engagement at LinkedIn, and solid execution in gaming, the conference call reinforced Microsoft's ability to drive strong, broad-based performance.

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