Breaking news this morning suggests Microsoft are in talks to buy the enterprise social network company, Yammer, for a reported $1bn. Whatever the next few weeks brings on this story, there is absolutely no doubt that each company has much to gain from such a partnership. It’s also great news for the millions of intranet users across the globe who use – and are all too often disappointed by – the SharePoint stack. Here’s the intranetizen view


The first reference to the concept of a social intranet appears c. 1996-1997, some four years before the first version of SharePoint, but it wasn’t until the end of the last decade social intranets became mainstream, as social media on the internet really took off with the growth of Facebook. Yammer was was formed in September 2008, making it one of the first enterprise social network (ESN) products on the market.

But if the world’s most common intranet platform had got to grips with the social concepts earlier, it’s debatable whether Yammer, Newsgator and a host of other companies would even exist. The $1bn Microsoft may have to pay for Yammer is the price of that failure to develop social properly in the SharePoint product. Not only will Yammer bring much needed expertise in ESN technologies, they bring with them 3million subscribers and a freemium adoption model.

Whilst Microsoft have looked to develop social intranet features on top of their SharePoint CMS, Yammer themselves have made public moves in the opposite direction, raising $85m recently to develop new features to add around the activity feed. One partner needs activity feeds, the other needs search, document management, traditional content management — this is a marriage of very complimentary technologies.

What might it mean for #intranets?

For those who already have SharePoint and have not invested in social plug ins, this could be the best news of the year. There is no doubt that Yammer’s enterprise social network technology is good and even though it’s relatively simple to install, the idea of having the licensing included within existing SharePoint costs with seamless integration, is certainly a positive.

But what about those SharePoint customers who have recognised the need for social functionality but have opted for Chatter, Jive, Newsgator and more? Their upgrade path is now much less clear. Indeed, the future of those other companies is also less clear. With such a huge competitor, can the others compete fairly? Might the competition authorities in the US and Europe step in an consider this in the same light as the Internet Explorer bundling? A reduction in competition in the marketplace is arguably not good news for customers as such forces work to get prices down and improve the quality of the product.


This is clearly great news for David Sacks, founder of Yammer. It’s a great partnership for Yammer and Microsoft and it’s potentially a great deal for existing customers of SharePoint. It’ll be fascinating — watch this space.