Thursday, 28 June 2012

Microsoft acquires Yammer for 1.2 billion. Leaving billions scratching their heads. A bubble?

OMG! Microsofts Steve Ballmer and the Yammer boys badly pictured officially by Microsoft - could have flashed it through Instagram - announcing the acquisition this week and looking very 1970's. The new leaders in Social Media wouldn't you say?

I've been blogging a fair bit about whether we're in a bubble or not and as recently as last week here;postID=1971760983930398308

But I also go back to the Instagram deal and Mashable valuation in their CNN sale, and marvelled at the prices. After all, I'm not against a bubble and if money piles into the space, then good for us.

I note too that 3 year old Pinterest (yes, sure, I know, we all love Pinterest) without any revenues of note, raised 100m usd in the last week. But the hugely interesting thing about that, is that it was based on a valuation of 1.5 bn. 1.5 BILLION. Now it was late last year (yep 7 months ago) when Pinterest valued itself at 200 m. So how does a valuation increase so dramatically so quickly? Unless because of other high valuations and a scramble to do deals at any price. A clear sign that we're in a bubble.

And so along comes Microsoft. Remember them? They were the people who largely owned this space until Apple re-invented itself with Jobs and once Social started. I think they've lost their way although have made some good strides in the mobile phone market with Samsung but generally, not the ship they were. They did pay 8.5bn (yep, 8.5 BILLION) for Skype mid 2011 and did, well, not a lot with it and have recently announced a payment plan (which kind of defeats the purpose, doesn't it?) and Advertising. 

And this was the big plan.......increase payments and bring in advertising?

So I can't help thinking that they want to be back in the space, at the forefront, and now are desparate for attention. So they see Facebook and their 1bn acquisition of Instagram and they say, let's go one better.

Then they find Yammer. Never heard of them? Nearly everyone on the wires agree even those who'd you expect to know it all. Nope they say and look blankly. And Yammer has now been acquired by Mircosoft for 1.2 bn usd. A little bit more than Facebook's deal. Interesting pyschology that.

Yammer launched in 2008 and it provides for private communications within businesses - sort of a social network for your company. In September 2010, it was reported to have 3 million users and predominantly Fortune 500 valuable companies. My understanding is however, that this was based on free trials, but I could be wrong (BusinessInsider have a story that estimates only 20% of Yammer customers actually pay).

Features include allowing workers to share events directly to Microsoft Outlook. Videos and URLs can be shared. Topics of conversations can be shared. Conduct polls can be created, files can be shared. It allows you to see who's online and who's not. Sorry, have I missed something? That's it?

But I think critically important here, is the reporting features that allow company owners track their employees activities. Perhaps that's why companies use it? Perhaps? You think? Yeah Yeah.

It was also well funded having received circa 150m usd in support but obviously a big cash day in this acquisition. Clearly of course, it opens a channel to expose Microsofts products to high-end Yammer customers but a 1.2bn channel? 

A lot of people are bemused with this acquisition.
It's difficult to really see the pull of Yammer and the 'perfect fit' for Microsoft. 
It's more quickly and possibly unfairly, seen as an attempt to get back into the game with big time acquisitions, flagging big time ambitions.

I don't know.

But it seems a lot for a company that no one had ever heard of.
Except if we were in a bubble.