Microsoft's acquisition of Yammer for $1.2bn (£768m) will help and not hinder social networking solution NewsGator, according to NewsGator CEO JB Holston (pictured).
Gartner research director Larry Cannell had told Computing last week that the acquisition could spell the end for NewsGator as it is a tightly integrated SharePoint-based application.
But in an interview with Computing, Holston rejected that suggestion. He claimed that Yammer is a lead source for NewsGator and that the acquisition would help it to become an "even bigger lead source" for NewsGator.
"Yammer has been our best lead source for the last year or so and, in fact, we have converted over 100,000 seats in the last 30 days. So we are happy if Yammer becomes an even bigger lead source than it has been," he said.
The NewsGator CEO said he believed that Yammer has always been good at drumming up interest in the social business arena.
"It is a great instigator and gets people working with micro-blogging, which helps business units feel like there is value in it.
"Solutions like Yammer are good at getting people interested but is not something that a CIO is going to implement globally," he explained.
Holston said that NewsGator has always assumed that micro-blogging would become a commodity feature of all the enterprise software and services, adding that his firm's focus has always been on higher-value business applications.
"Salesforce started giving [enterprise social network] Chatter away for free 18 months ago, VMware made [corporate activity stream] Socialcast free about two months ago and Microsoft buying Yammer is just another step in having micro-blogging as a commodity service," he suggested.
Holston suggested that although the acquisition could benefit NewsGator, it will do little to improve the customer base of Yammer itself.
"There are no more customers looking at Yammer as the solution today than there was a month ago," he said. "Media, analysts and the Microsoft ecosystem have been talking about Yammer a lot, but customers are shrugging their shoulders at this point – because they have already thought about Yammer and what they are going to do with it, if anything. Whether or not Microsoft owns it is not going to affect an IT leader's view on Yammer or on how the firm is going to do social business," he said.
He did, however, acknowledge that the acquisition puts the spotlight on social business. "I think some people may have been reluctant to embrace social business [tools] but this could cause them to feel more comfortable as it shows that it actually matters," he said.
Gartner's Cannell had said that the Microsoft-Yammer deal would raise questions among customers about NewsGator's future.
"Our death is rumoured widely but this has nothing to do with our vitality," Holston said.
"It is the first major acquisition by one of the enterprise software incumbents in the social business category. A lot of analysts have been predicting consolidation for a while, so this looks like the first step in that direction," he said.
So does Holston fear that NewsGator could be acquired too?
"It is hard to predict if the market is going to continue to consolidate and, if so, how that plays out. I'm not sure that just because Microsoft bought Yammer for $1.2bn, that any of the other large software companies will jump in to do something similar, and whether they believe that merger and acquisition is the way to do so.
"I think Salesforce has bought a few smaller companies to accelerate its position in enterprise social but the likes of Oracle, IBM Connections and SAP have not made any major social business acquisitions, if any at all," he said.
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