Yammer lets businesses can set up private “social” networks where employees can communicate.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Is corporate America ready to adopt social networking alongside traditional office tools like word processing apps and spreadsheets?
Microsoft is making a big bet in that direction. It has acquired Yammer, an “enterprise social networking” startup, for $1.2 billion in cash. The deal is Microsoft’s (MSFT, Fortune 500) biggest acquisition since Skype, which it bought last year for $8.5 billion.
Yammer operates like a gated Facebook (FB): A business can set up a private network where employees can post announcements, share files, create events, swap messages and more. It also offers more traditional corporate features like a content management system and an “extranet” that businesses can use to communicate with outside contacts like customers and vendors.
Buying Yammer “underscores our commitment to deliver technology that businesses need and people love,” Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said in a prepared statement.
Yammer, which was founded in 2008, had raised about $142 million in venture funding. It claims more than 200,000 corporate customers, including 80% of the Fortune 500 list.
So-called “enterprise social” startups have been hot in the M&A space lately. Salesforce (CRM) snapped up the social media marketing company Buddy Media last week for a cool $689 million. That was just one month after Salesforce bought collaboration software company Stypi.