Corporate microblogging and enterprise social networking tool Yammer has taken some of its latest investment funding and made its first acquisition today: a small British software engineering firm called oneDrum. The idea is to extend its features to the desktop, improve collaboration and give Google Docs a bit of a competitive push too.
oneDrum.com has been in beta for about a year, and its features and people will be integrated into the main Yammer platform. The idea is to incorporate the various Office files that individuals work on into its collaboration network to make them easier to jointly author or edit.
Users will be able to see files that are organized by particular Yammer groups on their desktop, once they download a Windows (and soon Mac) desktop app. So every Yammer group becomes, in essence, a shared folder that is synchronized through their cloud.
There are other desktop sync services, of course, such as Evernote and Dropbox, but none is tied to a microblogging service. Each Yammer file lives at a unique URL where it can be viewed in the browser, followed, shared and discussed. "Following" a file will notify the user of changes. Users can also view a revision history or search the full text of the file from within Yammer. This is very powerful and promises to make collaboration a lot easier than it is now with Google Docs, for example.
Speaking of Google Docs, its users have long had the ability to jointly edit and comment on their documents. But the oneDrum software moves this to your desktop Microsoft Office files, which may make it more comfortable for many companies. The user doesn't have to do anything special, once the desktop app is installed. As with Google Docs, character-by-character changes in the document appear in real time.
As mentioned, oneDrum has been in beta for Windows users, but starting today the beta software is no longer available (boo for Yammer). It will be incorporated into a summer release and rebranded as part of Yammer, along with a planned Mac release. Yammer also plans on moving all 10 oneDrum employees from the UK to its San Francisco office eventually, barring any immigration issues.
Jasper Westaway was the CEO of oneDrum. Ironically, when he first met with the Yammer executives about a year ago, the oneDrum demo was miserable. Obviously, that didn't deter them from working together.
Here is a demo video that shows off the integration and covers some additional features: