The lines between the latest hot crop of enterprise startups are starting to blur, as companies who previously staked out one thin slice of the feature set needed by business uses begin elbowing into one another’s territory.Today, Yammer pushed further into collaboration space by buying oneDrum, a small U.K. startup that helps users share, sync, and simultaneously edit files, particularly Microsoft Office files.
It brings Yammer into more direct competition with companies like Jive and Box, who specialize in helping employees at companies store and work on documents together.
It’s also a very smart move for Yammer, whose original value proposition — helping users communicate by answering the question “what are you doing right now?” — has always seemed a bit narrow. Yammer has
Once oneDrum’s technology is integrated into Yammer, which should happen this summer, Yammer will get several interesting features:
- Desktop sync. Users will see all their Yammer groups appear as folders on their desktop. Whenever a user drags a file into one of those folders, the file will become accessible to all coworkers. Whenever somebody saves it, the update will be saved everywhere.
- Search and discovery. This is a big problem with collaboration tools: users may be putting files in a shared location, but their colleagues may not be aware that new information is being shared, or may not know where to find these files. With the oneDrum technology, whenever a user drags a file into their Yammer folder, all other users will see an update in the Yammer communication window. All shared files also become full-text-searchable — so, for instance, I can do a desktop search on a term like “David Sacks” and I’ll see files that my colleagues have put there.
- Simultaneous editing of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files. Multiple workers can edit the same file at the same time. This feature does not require an Office plug-in, unlike competing technologies like Jive Software’s OffiSync. That means it’s easier to deploy and, according to Yammer, will perform a lot better. Having this feature will also, amazingly, place Yammer ahead of Microsoft, which still doesn’t offer native co-editing of Excel 2010 — you have to use a browser-based version of Excel to have two people in the file at the same time. (The simultaneous editing feature of oneDrum is Windows-only for now, but will be coming to the Mac. The other features are Mac and PC.)
The technology behind oneDrum will be applicable to other kinds of files as well — it’s not specific to Office. As oneDrum CEO Jasper Westaway explained to us, “We built a generic sync platform. We can take any arbitrary data structure and any change data gets is replicated everywhere, in a consistent state.”
The company started with Office because that’s still the product that workers spend most of their time in.
OneDrum has about 10 employees. All of them will be joining Yammer, and the integration is expected to be complete this summer, said Yammer CEO David Sacks.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it probably made a very small dent in the $85 million round Yammer closed in February. Look for more acquisitions to come.
For more information about how Yammer is thinking, see our interview with David Sacks from last year.