I only say that because of my experience with a similar acquisition (when Yammer was acquired by Microsoft – disclosure) and that I was there at the birth of Enterprise Social. I’ve written lots before (latest posts) and so feel with this vested interest and experience I can also have an opinion as everyone else does, per TechCrunch: Everyone has an opinion on the $27.7B Slack acquisition 😬
A lot has already been written about the acquisition, so far be it for me to bring anything new. But here goes with just a few thoughts on the things that resonate with me and hopefully my past experience brings some extra flavour.
One piece from that article in TechCrunch that really tickled me pink, was this:
Neeraj Agrawal, general partner at Battery Ventures, says that Benioff has had an interest in enterprise social going back years, and this is his way of finally delivering. “Remember Chatter? Benioff was dead on with this trend. He lost Yammer to Microsoft (when Microsoft acquired it for $1.2 billion) about 7-8 years ago, and then launched Chatter. It was a huge bet, but didn’t work. Slack is really Chatter 2.0,” he said.
Chuck Ganapathi, CEO and co-founder at Tact.ai, was product lead on the Chatter product at Salesforce in the 2009 time frame. He wrote in a soon-to-be-published blog post he shared with TechCrunch that it failed for a lot of reasons, but mostly because at its core, Salesforce was still a bunch of database guys and enterprise social was a very different animal.
I remember when I was at Yammer and after we were acquired by Microsoft, how Chatter was supposedly the competition. There was a lot of noise. Then it went away and Chatter wasn’t anymore.
I remember how at Yammer we laughed that we were being acquired by a bunch of email guys that didn’t get enterprise social 🤣
It’s true, Microsoft didn’t at first and the Yammer folk struggled in this new email culture – I wish I could tell you some of the stories. It was also not quite a SaaS culture – Yammer was born in the cloud and a lot of Microsoft technologies were still being run on premise. This was pretty close to the start of Office 365 and the on premise contingent and culture still held sway.
How times have changed. Since then, Yammer is still around as a Microsoft product, but the new kid on the block is Microsoft Teams. And boy do Microsoft get enterprise social. I say this not only because Microsoft Teams was introduced but because of how the culture has changed and how Microsoft now incorporates it into everything. The acquisition of LinkedIn by Microsoft is also a pretty strong indicator of this. Also Microsoft have been super successful at transforming and becoming a fully fledged SaaS company.
A lot of the commentary about the acquisition focus on its chances of success, the price paid, the future of workplace productivity apps, etc.
My thoughts go to the employees. I wish them well and an enjoyable ride. I hope the integration goes well and that they continue to innovate in this space as they have always done. I welcome the added competition, it is only the industry and customers that can benefit 🙌