Social networking invades the office...
David Sacks wants to turn those problems into profits with Yammer, a social-networking start-up for the office. The thinking goes like this: unlike e-mail, which allows anyone to flood your inbox, social-media tools hand the reins to the recipient, allowing filtering and prioritizing. Sacks, a Silicon Valley comer and former COO of PayPal, thinks social networking also boosts workplace collaboration. "You find people with expertise you didn't know about," he says. His disciples agree. "Yammer helps drive innovation and community at Deloitte," Peter Williams, CEO of Deloitte Digital, has said. At Deloitte Australia, Yammer has spread to more than 5,000 employees.
But does Yammer add to data fatigue? Some 20% of companies have tried social networking, but most don't use it well. "Often the services get thrown up across a company without any real strategy," says Charlene Li of Altimeter Group, a social-media consultancy. "People stop using them if they feel overloaded." Research has found that high-tech workplace communications strip away trust-building cues like eye contact and tone of voice.
Sacks thinks otherwise. Unlike its competitors, which sell their software directly to companies, Yammer is free for individual workers. Companies are charged for going all-in, making the service "more intuitive and responsive," says Sacks. Being Web-based is also more efficient and cost effective than relying on company servers as its competitors do, says Yammer investor Randy Glein of DFJ Growth.