Cisco Drops WebEx Social For Jive

Cisco's Jive partnership revitalizes its enterprise collaboration offering and resuscitates the slumping social business software company.

Cisco will discontinue its homegrown WebEx Social service and replace it with Jive Software's collaboration platform, the companies announced Thursday, giving both a boost in the competitive social business space. While Cisco will end WebEx's project-based product, the partnership will combine WebEx Meetings, its instant messaging service Jabber, and Jive's enterprise collaboration platform into one hub where customers can access Web conferencing, activity streams, voice and video communications, document sharing, and group workspaces.

Cisco said it will stop selling WebEx Social immediately. "As the market for enterprise social software continues to develop, we're seeing the market consolidate around key vendors," said Peder Ulander, Cisco's VP of collaboration marketing, in a blog post. "To provide the best flexibility and outcomes for our customers, we're expanding our focus to work with these vendors' products and to provide native integration with products in our collaboration portfolio."

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Cisco will support WebEx Social's cloud service for two more years and the on-premises version for three years, the company said.

More than 60,000 users at Thomson Reuters are already using the combined suite of tools, which lets employees invite people to join WebEx meetings from within the Jive platform, Cisco said in a news release. Users can also launch individual or group chat sessions using Jabber from their Jive workflows instead of logging into the messaging tool separately.

The partnership news sent Jive's stock soaring more than 9% Thursday after a period of steady decline. Since the company's IPO in 2011, shares have dropped by more than 45%. Jive has also failed to land new clients consistently. Last year, the company added 76 customers, down by nearly half from 2012, according to SEC filings.

In March, Re/code, citing anonymous sources, reported that Jive had explored a sale during the last several months and had approached a number of companies, including SAP, Workday, and Oracle as potential buyers. Cisco's new partnership with the company could be the first step in a future acquisition.

"Could this be the start of a beautiful romance that ends in marriage? It's certainly possible," says Rob Koplowitz, vice president and principal analyst at Forester. "Cisco did not have the success in social that they hoped. The partnership makes sense from the perspective that Cisco obviously no longer wants to continue building out its social capability."

Cisco's WebEx Social product -- originally called Quad -- failed to gain enough traction to compete in a stacked collaboration market alongside Microsoft's Yammer and Sharepoint and IBM's Connections, for example.

The new partnership with Jive will open Cisco up to a much larger customer base, too, said Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research. "The opportunity to sell product through Cisco's massive global channel is certainly a boon for a company that small in comparison to the competitive field," he wrote in a blog post.

Lately, Cisco has focused on investing in its collaboration business, which last year brought in nearly $4 billion in revenue, or 10.4% of sales, according to its annual report. In December, the company acquired to expand its mobile and social collaboration portfolio.

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