When Microsoft bought Yammer for $1.2 billion in June there was a lot of discussion around what the acquisition means for both of those companies and their technologies, some of those questions still linger today. Here’s what we know for certain: the business collaboration space is hot.
Responding to growing enterprise demand for solutions that feature social and cloud components, larger established software companies have recently made the move to purchase agile startups that show promise in order to integrate those features into otherwise traditional business software. For example: Salesforce.com bought Radian6 and Buddy Media, SAP bought SuccessFactors, Oracle bought Collective Intelligence and Vitrue, VMware bought SocialCast, etc.
As Larry Dignan from ZDnet said recently, “Color me skeptical, but I doubt all of these bolt on deals will suddenly result in social enterprise nirvana.”
Indeed, Microsoft’s acquisition of Yammer is hardly a panacea for the company, either, which desperately needs to make real progress toward more social business software. After all, Microsoft already has some of Yammer’s functionality built into SharePoint and there was the much-discussed-before-fading-into-complete-obscurity Microsoft OfficeTalk, Microsoft’s answer to Yammer a few years ago.
Of course, Microsoft is realizing what everyone has known for years: it is embarrassingly behind on its social strategy. It built a suite of products that should be social—Office 365 and SharePoint for example—but just aren’t. So for Microsoft, Yammer is a delightful addition that it can keep as a standalone product to avoid annoying its user base (like Skype) while attempting to absorb its users and integrate its functionality into existing software suites like any number of the other 149 companies that Microsoft has acquired to date.
On the flip side, not too long ago Yammer was moving past its purely social component—David Sacks, after all, hates that “Facebook-or-Twitter-for-business” comparison—by making collaboration more content-centric with its acquisition of OneDrum, a content management solution.
Like savvy politicians, both were moving to the middle: Yammer was moving to include more content management functionality in its social platform while Microsoft desperately sought to amp up its 12-year old content management system, SharePoint, with more social functionality.
That $1.2B acquisition shows that they met somewhere in the very valuable middle, which, actually, is a credit to both companies. The merger validates everything that Huddle believes in: content and social or, more accurately, conversations and context, cannot exist without the other in business collaboration software; content management and social collaboration must be seamlessly built together from the ground up, holistically—not tacked-on—to be truly effective.