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HiveLive: the beginning of community app consolidation?

Larry Dignan has the details of RightNow's acquisition of HiveLive. I was struck by two things.
Written by Dennis Howlett, Contributor on

Larry Dignan has the details of RightNow's acquisition of HiveLive. I was struck by two things. First up Barron's notes that HiveLive had raised $7.8 million so a sale at $6 million sounds like a distressed deal. Second, RightNow is talking very clearly about integration:

RightNow believes that by adding the HiveLive platform, RightNow will deliver the broadest social CRM solution in the marketplace. The HiveLive platform is available immediately following the acquisition and will be tightly integrated into RightNow November ’09

This is something I've been waiting to hear about from any community style app vendor for some time. It has been one of my sticking points when discussing so-called Enterprise 2.0 style applications or services. While E2.0 apps may deliver value in their own right, it is hard to see how that translates into the big money wins based on my belief that "content without context IN process is meaningless." That's a pretty harsh statement but one that is meant to convey the problem of social software as yet another siloed app category that could deliver much higher value if integrated within business processes.

Hearing that RightNow is grasping that particular nettle represents a big step in making that statement redundant. By pulling HiveLive into the CRM process, RightNow is giving real meaning and promising two way value to the notion of socializing CRM. If they execute well then this will represent a big step forward.

The burning question is whether this signals the start of consolidation in the community segment. In talking to Sameer Patel on the Twitter back channel, the question arose as to which set of dominoes may fall next. In our musings the names Helpstream and Lithium came up. According to Sameer who is much closer to these things, Helpstream gets a measure of sales via Oracle while Lithium has a lot of crossover with Salesforce.com.

Given Oracle's acquisitive nature it wouldn't be surprising to hear they take a tilt at the market. There are plenty of potential candidates out there. Much will depend on the attitude of VC's who are invested in this market, especially given what we've seen happen to HiveLive.

Whatever happens, it's a great buy for RightNow. I just hope they find a way of dropping the 'socialCRM' moniker. It doesn't feel particularly comfortable. Never has.

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