Microsoft watchers have been jumping all over rumors that Microsoft might buy Yammer. Bloomberg is reporting that the deal could be announced before this week is over.
(The best explainer I've seen with all the background on the potential Microsoft-Yammer marriage is from my ZDNet colleague Eileen Brown. Brown has an especially informed take given the fact she worked in unified communications at Microsoft for years before becoming a social-media consultant.)
I have no inside knowledge, nor any overheard gossip from my local craft beer bar (or creamery) to add here. But my two cents? There are three big reasons I believe this deal could come to pass.
One: The lead-up to Microsoft buying Yammer sounds almost identical to the lead-up to Microsoft buying Skype. Think about it: Microsoft already has technology inside its SharePoint collaboration product that is focused on enterprise social networking. But that technology isn't lightweight and still has little recognition outside the SharePoint community. (In fact, Microsoft and Yammer announced a deal last year to add a Yammer Web Part to SharePoint to make SharePoint more "social, mobile, and engaging for enterprise employees."
Yammer would be like Skype. In the case of Skype, Microsoft had its own homegrown VOIP technology, Lync (previously known as Office Communications Server) that did/does a lot of what Skype does. But Lync had/has zero consumer presence or brand recognition. So Microsoft shelled out $8 billion to buy technology that it is now working to integrate and differentiate from its own.
Two: Remember Microsoft OfficeTalk? Yeah, almost no one does. It was supposed to be Microsoft's Yammer. It was developed by Office Labs and seemed last year as though it was on its way to commercialization. Since that time, Office Labs has disappeared for the most part. And there've been no mentions outside the company of OfficeTalk being adopted by any Microsoft product groups.
Last but not least: Microsoft still views Salesforce and Oracle as archrivals. Recently, Salesforce paid $689 million social listening and marketing outfit Buddy Media. Oracle bought a similar company, Vitrue, in May.The Softies are in the midst of adding more social feeds (that look a heck of a lot like Salesforce Chatter) to its CRM offerings. Yammer already is integrated with Microsoft CRM and supports all the leading mobile platforms -- and even Windows Phone.
Again, I have not received any recent information about a Microsoft-Yammer tie-up. I was caught off-guard by Microsoft's Skype buy last year. But I'd be less surprised by a Microsoft buy of Yammer now that the Redmondians have established a "we have this technology already but..." acquisition precedent.
Updae (June 14): The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Yammer has agreed to sell to Microsoft $1billion, but doesn't know when the purchase will be consummated and announced.