Microsoft to accuire Yammer: Brilliant move or waste of money?
When I heard the announcement of the take over of Yammer by Microsoft I did not know what to make of it. I would have expected NewsGator to be a more natural fit, as it runs on top of Sharepoint.
To learn more I went to the Yammer.com and Microsoft website: no news at all, but there were other blogs that wrote about it: to quote personalcloud.info “mid-day Friday the Wall Street Journal confirmed that Yammer agrees to sell to Microsoft. This doesn’t mean the deal is announced nor done, and even if that happens it isn’t over until it is over (as Yogi Berra says).” So the question remains why does Microsoft want to pay $1.2 billion for Yammer?
Is it for the technology?
Although they are in the Magic Quadrant of Gartner, everybody including Microsoft tells their customers that SharePoint is more focused on documents then on people and is not as social as it should be. So to buy Yammer to get into the MQ is not necessary and on several blogs there are stories that the next release of SharePoint will be more social. To go even one step further: recently Microsoft launched their site so.cl (http://www.so.cl/)
So Microsoft is working hard on getting social into the DNA of their new products. So why buy Yammer, as most of the time Microsoft copies what other companies have done before and improve it (e.g. Lotus 1,2,3 – Excel, iPod – Zune, Game Consoles – Xbox, Apple Store – MS Store, etc.). So for $1.2 billion I would expect that Microsoft would be able to add social into their SharePoint (360.
Or don’t they have a clue what to do with social business and how to embed it into the Office suite. That would be a bold statement, but inn the blog entry of RealStoryGroup they wrote about the Pre-empt Disappointment. This means “early whispers suggest that Microsoft did not enhance the platform’s social features to the extent everyone expected.” So the take over of Yammer would help Microsoft to deflect criticism of not delivering enough social into SharePoint 2013.
Is it for the customer base?
When tweeting in my network about “why”, I got one response that said it could be for the customer base. Looking at the customer base of Yammer, especially the accounts mentioned on the website, and looking at the proclamation of 85% of the Fortune top 500 is using Yammer I must say that it is impressive. I could not tell if the top fortune 500 are all paying customers. My first guess would be that most of these companies are using Microsoft Office, and thus are already are know to the Microsoft sales force. So I cannot imagine that Microsoft would spend $1.2 billion for a customer base they already have in their CRM.
Besides the paying customers there are also a lot of freemium users. That might be interesting for Microsoft, but the feedback I get from my customers is that they do have a Yammer usage, it is low and communities are barely used (e.g. out of the 350+ communities there were only 12 with 10 or more users. And because not everybody within the enterprise is using it and there is no user adoption, embedding into processes, there are a lot of sleeping accounts.
So why will Microsoft buy Yammer?
Not for the Yammers customer base, not for Yammers technology. Maybe to have social capabilities in the cloud and to tell the world that they are social (me)too, what ever the next version of Office will deliver? That would demonstrate that they don’t have a clue about social business in Redmond, but I think they are smarter then that, so to answer the question: imho it is a waste of money.
What do you think?