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Microsoft acquires Yammer, a customizable social network for businesses

A screenshot from a Yammer home page. Click for larger version.A screenshot from a Yammer home page. Click for larger version.

Microsoft announced June 25 that it will acquire Yammer, a company that gives businesses a platform to build their own social networks. Should the deal pass regulatory approval, Microsoft will pay $1.2 billion in cash for Yammer.

Because of its enterprise roots, Yammer will join the Microsoft Office Division. Though that division is led by Microsoft’s Office President Kurt DelBene, the Yammer team will continue to report current Yammer CEO David Sacks.

“The acquisition of Yammer underscores our commitment to deliver technology that businesses need and people love,” said Steve Ballmer, CEO, Microsoft. “Yammer adds a best-in-class enterprise social networking service to Microsoft’s growing portfolio of complementary cloud services.”

Yammer launched in 2008 and has more than 5 million corporate users, including employees at 85 percent of the Fortune 500. The service allows businesses to create a secure, private social network that employees can easily join. It has a look and functionality very similar to Facebook and allows employees to closely network and collaborate on projects, such as the ability to edit documents together in real time, as well as crowd source information from their peers through polls. You can check out this video walkthrough of the service to get a better idea.

The service can be used on any device with an internet connection, including tablets and smartphones.

Microsoft reports that Yammer will continue to develop its product as a standalone service from Office. Moving forward, Microsoft plans to accelerate Yammer’s adoption alongside complementary offerings from Microsoft SharePoint, Office 365, Microsoft Dynamics and Skype.

“When we started Yammer four years ago, we set out to do something big,” Sacks said. “We had a vision for how social networking could change the way we work. Joining Microsoft will accelerate that vision and give us access to the technologies, expertise and resources we’ll need to scale and innovate.”