Microsoft's Big Monday Event Could Be The Yammer Deal


Since the only people talking about Microsoft buying Yammer are overly chatty Yammer employees, we’re left to speculate.

So here goes some speculation!

Right now, there are two HUGE things Microsoft is not commenting on:

  • The widespread reports that it is buying Yammer, the hot San Francisco-based social-enterprise startup, for a price pegged anywhere from $1 billion to $1.4 billion.
  • The content of the event it’s holding Monday afternoon in Los Angeles.

There are two fascinating details about Microsoft’s Monday media event:

  • The event is scheduled for 3:30 pm Pacific Time—after the markets have closed on the East Coast. No need to do that for, say, a hardware announcement, but you’d need to do that for a material event like an acquisition.
  • Microsoft is describing the Monday event as a “major media announcement” and told invited press that “you will not want to miss it.”

Let’s think about all this for a moment.

Microsoft commits a lot of acts of gratuitious hype. But it does not usually describe events as “major”—especially the unveiling of a long-expected, already announced product like, say, Windows tablets.

So let’s say you were Microsoft and Yammer’s PR guys and wanted to schedule an announcement but throw people off the scent. (This is before those chatty Yammerers blew the cover on the deal.)

Holding an event in San Francisco would be a dead giveaway.  That’s where Yammer is headquartered.

Yammer CEO David Sacks splits his time between San Francisco and Los Angeles, where his other company, genealogy startup Geni, is based. (Sacks stepped down as CEO of Geni last year, but he’s still chairman.)

The venue hasn’t been announced yet. But if it’s anywhere near Geni headquarters in West Hollywood, Calif., that will be a screaming indicator.

Oh, and Sacks is throwing a huge party Saturday in Los Angeles to celebrate his 40th birthday (which actually happened last month) and his upcoming fifth wedding anniversary. And that’s been planned for a while, according to people who got invites.

Hey, it would save him a trip.

One big caveat on this: Ina Fried at AllThingsD, one of the best mobile reporters in the business, says that sources outside Microsoft are telling her the Monday event is about tablets. (And we have no reason not to believe her. She nails it.)

OK. But the two hot trends in enterprise right now are cloud and tablets, and how they intersect. And no one’s going to care about Windows tablets unless they have great software. Yammer works great on the iPad, for example—and that’s one of the ways Apple is creeping in on Microsoft’s enterprise turf.

If Microsoft simultaneously takes the veils off new Windows tablets and unveils an acquisition of a major cloud service like Yammer, that would be major indeed.

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