June 14, 2012, 1:01 PM — Microsoft is reportedly in talks to buy enterprise social network company Yammer for $1 billion-plus, a move that could bolster everything from Microsoft's unified communications to CRM businesses.
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Yammer, which launched in 2008, is one of a slew of vendors whose software and services are designed to help companies build private social networks that provide the sort of privacy and security safeguards you don't get with Facebook. Other offerings come from Jive, Huddle and Salesforce.com (Chatter), a Microsoft competitor. Yammer claims 85% of the Fortune 500 companies are using its software-as-a-service offering.
A potential Yammer buyout could fit in with any number of Microsoft businesses. Microsoft has naturally been seeking ways to make a bigger play in social networking, most recently announcing So.cl in May - an introduction that has received relatively little play.
But Yammer is focused on enterprise social networking. It has worked with Microsoft's SharePoint tools for the past couple of years and could sync up well with Microsoft's Lync unified communications products and Skype VoIP business as well. A buyout of Yammer would be Microsoft's biggest since last May, when it announced plans to buy Skype for $8.5 billion.