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Microsoft-Yammer Deal is the Florence of Enterprise Software

18 Jun

Florence and Siena are the two Italian cities that had the most impact in the Italian renaissance. Even though the movement itself was originated in Tuscany, Florence is often associated with the expansion of the  renaissance movement throughout that Italian peninsula. Is we can, for a minute, trace a parallel between the rebirth of  enterprise software and the Italian renaissance then Microsoft’s Yammer acquisition can become the Florence of enterprise software.

During the last few days we’ve heard strong rumors that Microsoft will be acquiring enterprise social media pioneer Yammer for a price between $1B-1.6B. As a matter of fact, if the rumor holds true, the deal is likely to be announced in the next few hours. Yammer provide enterprise social networks capabilities to thousands of organizations across the globe and has a very strong presence within Fortune 500 companies. After a few financing rounds, Yammer’s valuation is reported around $500M but the value is far from directly correlating to revenue numbers which is reported to be around $20M.

Regardless of your opinion related to the terms of the transaction, there is no doubt that, to the day, Yammer’s acquisition represents the most important moment in the history of this new generation of enterprise software. While this new movement has already experienced outstanding successes such as Jive’s IPO or the acquisitions of Rightnow, Success Factors and Taleo for multi-billion dollar valuations, Yammer’s acquisition is set to have a more profound impact in the enterprise software industry.

Why is that?

Yammer’s influence in the new enterprise software movement goes way beyond its technology contributions and expands onto the commercialization, economics and adoption models of enterprise software technology. If you think about it,  Jive’s IPO had very little influence in the new enterprise software models and SAP’s and Oracle’s acquisitions of Taleo, Rightnow and Success Factors were strongly validated by revenue models and traditional customer acquisition processes.

Yammer, on the other hand, has established a strong enterprise customer base by challenging a large number of the traditional enterprise software concepts. Microsoft’s Yammer acquisition strongly validates that the economics and dynamics of enterprise software are changing. With this deal, Microsoft is telling the world that the old school of enterprise software might benefit from a few lessons from the new boys:

  • Market share matters as much as revenue: As in the consumer market, enterprise software valuations can be correlated to market share rather than actual revenue. While Yammer’s revenue numbers might not be impressive, their number of customers and the dependency those customers have on Yammer’s technology is a great asset for Microsoft.
  • Fremium works: Yammer was one of the pioneers of the fermium pricing model for enterprise software. Microsoft’s acquisition validates that these new type of pricing models can be very effective within enterprise customers.
  • Sexy and simple interfaces win: Yammer is not a super feature rich product and its main value proposition is a very simple one: improving the communication within the enterprise. However, Yammer accomplishes this goal by providing a super sexy, incredibly intuitive and astonishing simple interface. Compared to most enterprise software products, Yammer’s interface might look ridiculous but, as always, we should remember that in this industry simple and open tends to win.
  • Partnership matters: If you have been following the market, Microsoft acquisition of Yammer should not come exactly as a surprise. Since last year, Yammer and Microsoft have partnered to expand SharePoint’s social networking capabilities with Yammer. This acquisition is a testimony that long term partnerships can evolve into successful outcomes for both parties.
  • Mobile-First Matters: Mobile devices are one of the main channels by which people use Yammer. By acquiring Yammer, Microsoft is acknowledging that mobile-first consumers are also relevant in the enterprise.

You can probably tell I am super excited about Microsoft’s Yammer acquisition. I believe Microsoft will get an all-star team head by David Sacks and a rock solid product and Yammer directly benefits from Microsoft’s dominant presence in the enterprise software world.

What do you think? Is Microsoft-Yammer deal as important as I think it is? Is $1.2B too much? 😉

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