UPDATED 18:09 EDT / MAY 03 2012


Ross Mayfield Sells 2 Companies in One Week: SocialText and SlideShare

Ross Mayfield, founder of the enterprise social network platform Socialtext and VP of business development of SlideShare had both of his companies acquired this week: Socialtext to Bedford Funding and SlideShare to LinkedIn. Mayfield, who left his role as president of Socialtext for the VP role at Slideshare last year, assures me this was “merely a happy coincidence.” Mayfield stayed on as chairman of the board of directors of Socialtext, but now according to Alan Lepofsky Socialtext CEO Eugene Lee will be reporting to Bedford Funding Managing Partner Charles S. Jones.

The Convergence of HCM and Enterprise Social Networking

Bedford Holdings owns a human capital management (HCM) solution called Peoplefluent. Socialtext will keep its branding, but become part of the Peoplesoft line. This deal is just the latest in a series of HCM and social business related acquisitions. In the past year:

Look for Jive and Yammer to make some sort of HCM play, either through new functionality, an acquisition or strategic partnership.

LinkedIn as a Collaboration Platform

Last year during the company’s first earnings call LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner said that he could see LinkedIn becoming an internal collaboration tool much like Yammer. SlideShare isn’t necessarily a step in this direction – so far it’s a tool that seems to be used mostly for publicly sharing presentations slides and other documents. But it does help expand LinkedIn’s role beyond being just a social network.

Many have pointed out that LinkedIn may be an unlikely candidate for an internal collaboration system since many executives see the social network mostly as a way for recruiters to try to steal their employees. But when we look at the way that HCM and internal social networking are converging and consider the increasing importance of identity management in the cloud, then LinkedIn as an enterprise tool starts to make some sense. Last year I wrote:

Employee identity is about to become much more valuable, since it’s not just going to be about keeping track of passwords and who has access to what. There could be actionable business intelligent in that identity data. So it will be more valuable to employers and to the companies, like Salesforce.com, that manage that data.

At the same time, the employee, now more than ever, has an interest in managing their own identity. Partially for the convenience of having a single sign-on across enterprise and personal productivity services. But also for the ability to present evidence of one’s past accomplishments to new employers. And let’s face it – economic turbulence has employees bouncing from company to company more often than ever. Employers have a claim to their employees enterprise identity, and a security and compliance mandate to protect certain data. But employees have a greater stake in their own data now.

On the other end of the spectrum is LinkedIn. LinkedIn has created a universal login and an app store that companies like Huddle are supporting. Although LinkedIn is really interested in the users’ data and how it can find value in it, the LinkedIn service is aimed at the employee, not the employer. The employee can take that information with them when they move to another company. LinkedIn is even considering its own Yammer-like internal social network, which would leverage the fact that many of a company’s external collaborators (partners, customers, contractors, etc.) will already have accounts on LinkedIn. This could be great for employees, who will be able to keep their business network graph with them as they move from company to company. But it might not be welcomed by employers, who may not want to use a platform typically used by recruiters to poach employees as a core part of their internal communications and collaboration. None the less, some enterprise vendors, such as VMware’s Socialcast are already adding LinkedIn integration, and Discourse has built its entire business around LinkedIn.

I should also mention that LinkedIn integration could well be part of Salesforce.com’s plans for Rypple. There are obvious advantages to playing both sides of the employer/employee divide. But at the moment, Salesforce.com is for employers and LinkedIn is for employees. I think both companies probably want to change that.

Perhaps this acquisition should just be seen as LinkedIn expanding on its existing strengths as a public place for professionals to share information. Either way, the acquisition of SlideShare helps LinkedIn own professional identity.

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