If the stories are true, Microsoft could pay more than $1 billion, recognizing the value of Yammer's cloud social network compared to more SharePoint-centric products like NewsGator Social Sites.
Enterprise Social Networks: A Guided Tour
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Microsoft is on the verge of acquiring Yammer, the cloud-based enterprise social network, according to reports.
Microsoft may pay more than $1 billion, according to Bloomberg. A ZDNet story cited a tweet from blogger Sarah Taylor as the original source of the rumor. Taylor tweeted about an overheard conversation at San Francisco coffee shop The Creamery, where someone called it a done deal.
Bloomberg said it had confirmation that the private talks were serious and a deal could be announced as soon as Friday.
Back in March, Jared Spataro, Microsoft's senior director of SharePoint product marketing, told The BrainYard Microsoft was ready to invest in enterprise social software, recognizing that the time was right and that social collaboration for business was more than a fad. Spataro will be one of the keynote speakers at next week's Enterprise 2.0 Boston conference, organized by The Brainyard's parent company, UBM.
Forrester Research recently ranked Yammer as one of the three top enterprise Activity Streams--social software products anchored around the stream or feed of posts--along with Salesforce.com's Chatter and Tibco's Tibbr. Yammer is offered on a freemium business model where individuals can sign up to start collaborating with others in the same business domain. Organizations that find the collaboration useful can convert to paid account with administrative features and other upgrades.
Until now, I've more often heard speculation that Microsoft would eventually buy NewsGator, the creator of a Social Sites product that's implemented as a SharePoint application.
SharePoint itself has added social features such as richer profiles, but is still often classified as an inadequate social platform in the absence of extensive customization or third-party add ons.
If this acquisition comes to pass, it may mean that Microsoft sees the value in a lightweight approach to integration between a social collaboration environment and enterprise systems, including the more document-centric SharePoint. With deeper integration, Yammer could take advantage of the SharePoint platform without being bound by its architecture.
Yammer would also give Microsoft a more direct counterweight to Salesforce.com's Chatter, which is offered on a similar cloud freemium model.
Meanwhile, if some enterprises favor the tighter SharePoint integration of NewsGator and an inside-the-firewall deployment, that's still good for Microsoft because every NewsGator Social Sites customer is also a SharePoint customer.
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