If you were following TechCrunch50, an annual event which TC has started last year, whereby startups are given to demo their product to a panel of judges and whoever gets to pass on certain criteria gets to bring home with the plum. Whereas last year’s winner, MINT is an uber cool startup with its innovative features, this year’s winner though was a mere copycat of Twitter – it’s a Twitter-like service called Yawner, er Yammer.
You don’t have to think hard to know what Yammer has to offer. Just think of it as a Twitter for enterprise-wide use. You as a member follows your co-workers, including your boss. Of course they can follow you as well. Your Public Timeline are updates of your co-workers.
Yammer operates on the question – “What are you working on?” instead of the overarching question of Twitter which is “what are you doing?”. As you or your co-workers answer questions thrown at you, Yammer will create a feed in one central location, where other co-workers can see it, hereby creating a point of discussion among your network within your company’s enterprise implementation of Yammer.
It sounds fun at first, as it could definitely change the enterprise line of communication, which up to now is still predominantly corporate email and desk phone.
It sounds pretty simple as well and the fact that it will just mimic Twitter’s functionality makes some observers question whether it deserves to be TC50’s winner, for its sheer lack of innovativeness.
Interestingly, the main reason why it won TC50 is also the reason why others are questioning its worth. It’s definitely Twitter adapted in enterprise environment, even TC50 defines it as a “Twitter with a business model.” And that business model is the fact that companies who wish to take control of the company’s Yammer network must pay for it.
But, the network still resides outside of the company’s intra-server. Hence, there lies the problem. Some conservative companies might not get solved with the idea of using an external site during office hours, especially as a line of communication. But then again, TC says Yammer has around 10,000 individual and 2,000 organizational sign ups.
Sadly a lot of industry watchers and individuals were not happy with Yammer winning the TC50 despite its features and seemingly great system architecture.
But like what TC said, Yammer has a great business model, and that’s what startups should be about anyway.