Microsoft is buying social network site Yammer for $1.2bn in a deal that will allow the software giant to offer Facebook-like services to corporate customers.
Yammer was created in 2008 and has five million corporate users at more tha 200,000 companies, allowing businesses to create private social networks in which employees can chat, share files and collaborate on projects.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said: 'The acquisiton of Yammer underscores our commitment to deliver technology that businesses need and people love.'
Richard Edwards, principal analyst at Ovum, commented: 'Many employees at the junior (and now senior) end of the workforce live aspects of their personal lives through Facebook and Twitter, so the idea of introducing similar kinds of tools into the workplace seems to make sense from a communication and collaboration point of view. It’s not just Microsoft eyeing-up the opportunities afforded by the Facebook-led social paradigm shift. Established enterprise IT vendors, such as IBM, Oracle, Salesforce.com, and SAP, are all busy bringing social capabilities to the workplace via a variety of ways and means.
'Microsoft already has a product that touts social capabilities – SharePoint Server, but this was designed and built in the pre-Facebook, pre-cloud era. Launched in 2008, Yammer is a new breed of enterprise collaboration solution, designed from the ground-up to exploit social, mobile, and cloud technologies, and would sit neatly alongside Skype, the communication product that Microsoft acquired this time last year for $8.5bn.
'Microsoft's acquisition of Yammer will undoubtedly have an opportunity impact at the commodity end of the enterprise social networking spectrum, but if Google and LinkedIn can address this aspect of the market with a compelling proposition then all is still to play for.'