Yammer.com Launches Micro-Blogging For The Enterprise At TechCrunch50

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Yammer (http://www.yammer.com), a micro-blogging tool for enterprises, officially launched today at the TechCrunch50 conference.

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We were looking for a tool to keep our company connected. Something like an enterprise version of Twitter would have been ideal, but it didn't exist. So we built our own.

Yammer (http://www.yammer.com), a micro-blogging tool for enterprises, officially launched today at the TechCrunch50 conference.

Selected from among thousands of applicants, this "Enterprise 2.0" startup allows companies and organizations to take advantage of a technology that has exploded in popularity among consumers on sites like Twitter.

On Yammer, co-workers exchange short frequent answers to one simple question: "What are you working on?"

As employees answer this question, a company feed is created in one central location, enabling co-workers to discuss ideas, post news, ask questions, and share links and other information.

The company feed can be accessed in real-time via the web, IM, SMS text messaging, an iPhone application, a Blackberry application, a desktop application, or email.

Yammer also serves as a company directory in which every employee has a profile and as a knowledge-base where past conversations are archived and easily searched.

Unlike traditional enterprise tools which must be installed by the company's IT department, anyone in a company can start their Yammer network and begin inviting colleagues. This means that Yammer can spread virally through a company like a consumer social network.

At the same time, Yammer ensures the privacy of each network by limiting access to those with a valid company email address. The model is similar to Facebook's beginnings as a college social network, when students had to validate a college email to join their college network.

The basic Yammer service is free, but companies can pay to claim and administer their networks. The cost is $1 per employee per month, after a free three-month trial period.

Companies who claim their network can configure their own security requirements by setting stricter password policies or restricting use to their office or VPN. These settings are also used on sites like Salesforce.com.

Yammer was originally developed at internet company Geni.com as an internal productivity tool. Explained David Sacks, the founder of Geni and Yammer, "We were looking for a tool to keep our company connected. Something like an enterprise version of Twitter would have been ideal, but it didn't exist. So we built our own."

Over time, the product evolved into a full-fledged company intranet / social network, adding features not available on consumer micro-blogging sites. "We have all worked at multiple companies and understand the needs of companies to share information within a private network. We had the luxury of building the solution that we wanted to use ourselves," said Sacks.

Geni's 30 employees used the product internally for six months, creating over 15,000 messages. Eventually Geni decided to spin out the product into a new entity so other companies could use it too.

Enterprise 2.0:

Yammer is part of the "Enterprise 2.0" movement, which seeks to bring technologies popular with consumers into the workplace.

"People get to use great consumer internet sites, like Facebook, Twitter, and Geni, to communicate in their personal lives. Then, when they get to the office, all the software is antiquated and hard to use -- that doesn't make sense. We want to do something about that," said Sacks.

The solution is good for companies as well as employees. In 2007, The New York Times described email as "a $650 Billion Drag on the Economy", with email inboxes overflowing with unwanted messages. Meanwhile, people who need to see the information never get it. Yammer solves these problems by increasing communication while reducing email.

Increasingly, companies and organizations everywhere are finding that maintaining all of their applications on their own servers and by their own IT departments is not only costly and time consuming, but potentially disastrous if exceptional care is not taken in backups and security. The new generation of online enterprise applications, including Google Docs, Salesforce.com, and Yammer, solves this problem by remotely hosting software and data.

About Yammer:

Yammer is a tool for making companies and organizations more productive through the exchange of short frequent answers to one simple question: "What are you working on?"

Yammer was founded by former PayPal COO David O. Sacks and officially launched on September 8, 2008. Yammer's management team includes seasoned industry veterans drawn from the ranks of PayPal, eBay, eGroups, Tribe, and other leaders in the software industry.

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