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I am following TechCrunch50 (TC50), the event for startups put on by popular tech blog TechCrunch. A friend of mine, Ryan Coleman, engaged me in discussion about by asking me what I thought of it.

What is Yammer? From the press release:

Yammer is a tool for making companies and organizations more productive through the exchange of short frequent answers to one simple question: "What are you working on?

Yammer was founded by former PayPal COO David O. Sacks and officially launched on September 8, 2008.

Yammer's management team includes seasoned industry veterans drawn from the ranks of PayPal, eBay, eGroups, Tribe, and other leaders in the software industry.

I have been using Twitter for over a month now. At first I didn't get the hype, but now I love it and use it both to keep Realvibez in touch with super fans and for me to personally interact with some great people, like Om Malik from GigaOm.

Yammer takes this new micro-messaging trend, similar to sending an SMS to friends who subscribed, and adapts it beautifully for businesses of all sizes.

I intend to implement it in our venture as soon as possible.

Many companies use IM clients to allow employees to communicate but that is mainly one-to-one communication and there is no archiving. Yammer improves efficiency and productivity because:

  • archiving - Email is not required for everything and IM offers no archiving. Yammer allows you to archive conversation
  • understand upper management - If you want to know what upper management is thinking about or working on, just 'follow' them. Might get some great book recommendations or a heads up on new initiatives before that meeting
  • fewer meetings - Companies love to have meetings for things as simple as status reports and ideas. How about virtual updates and idea suggestions? Fewer meetings = Saved money and increased productivity

Check out the demo tour

Ryan asked me if I thought it would be adopted easily, pointing out that "those who are collecting a paycheck for lack of better terms will A) not adopt it and B) have their spot blown up because you can see where work stops rather than flows. I see a big HR push needed to get it used company wide."

My response was:

"I see this being more than HR, this is a mandate that has to come from the CEO. We may think that people will push back but look at what the Zappos CEO has achieved with twitter usage in his company by leading by example. If this can truly benefit a company and an employee pushes back, it means that they are wrong for the company and HR hired for skills instead of attitude. People with the right attitude for the company will embrace it easily."

Ryan replied:

"I agree with you that young progressive, innovative companies can easily adopt this service. But a vast majority of large companies are going to have a hard time integrating this because like you said they have the wrong people in the company."

I agree with him 100%

Check out Yammer for yourself and let me know what you think.

Before anyone starts on the "it's not original", "it's a clone of twitter", blah, blah, blah, I say the following:

There are only 3 types of entrepreneurs:

Inventors - create something new and try to monetize it

Innovators - Adapt and modify something else for a new market

Investors - they just invest in the ideas of other people

Facebook and MySpace - not original, don't you wish you had started them?

Michael Dell, based on some of these comments, is lame because he didn’t invent computers.

Today: Multibillionaire

Richard Branson didn’t create his own music or invent the airplane, etc. - Multibillionaire

Nintendo - didn’t invent videogame consoles. Atari = dead, Nintendo = crazy profitable

Warren Buffett - Buys profitable companies and allocates capital, doesn’t invent a thing

Bill Gates - don’t even get started on Microsoft

The point is, business school (which I went to btw) has always taught that invention is overrated and the real money is in the application of an invention to solve a specific problem.

Entrepreneurs are nothing more than problem-solvers who get paid and Yammer is going to get paid.

And give them credit for having a business model from day one, unlike so many other startups.