Can You Build An Enterprise Only Web App?

I decided to try Yammer yesterday, but never got the confirmation email (I am sure it got stuck in one of my spam filters), so at this point, I haven’t yet tried it. I am sure it’s very good because it won the TC50 top prize and that’s an impressive feat.

Mark Evans says that many bloggers have been "hammering yammer" for not being innovative or unique. If that’s true, and I’ve missed those posts, then I agree with Mark. Taking a new mode of communication (microblogging) and retooling it for the enterprise certainly seems like a good move.

However, I am not sure that’s such an easy thing to do. As my friend Charlie pointed out to me in a private twitter exchange yesterday, there have been many "enterprise IM" solutions over the years but employees have resisted the desires of their employees to determine what IM solution they use and most have continued to us AIM or to a lesser exent Yahoo! and Microsoft’s IM offering, often via a third party client.

The same is largely true of blogging services. Though there are plenty of "enterprise focused" social media solutions, most corporate blogs are built on wordpress or typepad or even blogger.

This is one of the reasons we’ve struggled so hard to invest in "enterprise 2.0" at Union Square Ventures. We have tried pretty hard to find companies that we can invest in that bring the new web technologies to the enterprise, but often we’ve found what happens is that consumers (ie employees) bring the web technologies they use every day to work and they prefer that.

I guess time will tell whether Yammer is a better way to talk inside an organization versus a third party service built on twitter (or possibly a private groups feature in twitter although I have no idea if that’s coming). But recent history suggests to me that it’s not a slam dunk. And so I commend the Yammer team for trying something that is not easy, that is not simple, and that if they get right, will be very valuable.

#VC & Technology