Photo: Flickr/The DEMO Conference
The Yammer-Microsoft deal has just handed LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner a one-of-a-kind opportunity.Weiner recently said that LinkedIn, which runs a mostly public professional social network, has been testing a private network for its own employees to share information.
That’s exactly what Yammer does.
He also pointed out that employees use LinkedIn to discover information about what their coworkers do—the kind of information that ought to be available through internal directories, but almost never is.
That’s a strength of Yammer, too.
Whenever a big company acquires a smaller one, some talent leaves, employees jockey for position in the new organisation, and product development slows down as people focus on integration projects.
So the acquisition will slow Yammer down. There’s no way to help that.
Some people—especially entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley—just don’t like Microsoft, and try to avoid using its products. It may not be large numbers, but some people who were fans of Yammer as an indie product will be open to trying out alternatives.
“Yammer and LinkedIn do pretty different things,” said Yammer CEO David Sacks in a conference call discussing the deal. “We’ve never seen them as competitive to what we’re doing.”
And that’s true: LinkedIn makes most of its money from recruiting services based on its vast public database of professional profiles. It doesn’t need to get into Yammer’s business. Point is—as Weiner hinted—it could.
At the very least, LinkedIn could use the threat of launching a Yammer competitor to get a favourable deal to keep integrating LinkedIn’s data into Microsoft tools like its Outlook email client.
We asked LinkedIn for comment. A spokesman declined to speak on the record about the Microsoft-Yammer deal.
When Fortune writer Adam Lashinsky discussed the prospect of Microsoft buying LinkedIn, Weiner laughed.