Wednesday Grok: Microsoft says yes to Yammer for $US1.2b, but no to Nokia

And weknowwhatyouredoing, but we don’t know why

Microsoft has confirmed an otherwise very poorly held secret — it really has bought Yammer for $1.2 billion, rumors of which we flagged in last week’s Grok.

Pretty much everything that had been speculated upon (or overheard in cafes, in the case of one lucky journalist at Business Insider) has come to pass.

Techcrunch noted that the Yammer team “will be folded into its Microsoft Office division while continuing to report to Yammer’s CEO and co-founder David Sacks.”

Yammer has more than 200,000 corporate clients around the world and is present in almost 80 per cent of Fortune 500 companies, according to Mashable. For Microsoft, it is potentially a big win in the corporate social networking space, which as the Techcrunch article pointed out is also attracting investment from companies like Salesforce.com and Oracle.

Now, while Microsoft might be willing to stump up plenty of green for Yammer, it has scuppered suggestions that it will launch its own phone device — another rumour we highlighted recently and which was kicked along by the Microsoft Surface announcement.

PandoDaily quoted Microsoft's senior marketing manager, Greg Sullivan, saying, “We have a strong ecosystem of partners that we are very satisfied with.”

That said, after reviewing the potted relationship between Microsoft and Nokia for the last few years the article concludes that Microsoft may be forced to purchase Nokia eventually. “The final confluence between Microsoft and the No. 1 phone manufacturer for the past 14 years running at an incredibly low valuation would provide a solid mobile push forward that both companies require.”

Another Groupon restatement brewing?

Business Insider, while noting a recent burst upwards in the Groupon share price (it's still almost 50 per cent underwater from its IPO), says the company is still taking risks with its book keeping. Remember Groupon had to earlier restate its earnings earlier this year and not for the first time.

According to Business Insider, “The company has in recent years acquired its German rival CityDeal Europe, the web designer Pelago, Inc, Zappedy, Inc. and many others, racking up $166.9 million in assets that it estimated to be worth more than they were on their books as of December 2011, or around 9% of its total assets. If those estimations turn out to be wrong, Groupon’s founders will have to make painful adjustments later.”

Grok remains sceptical about Groupon — very sceptical in fact, and Grok’s not alone. If it has to restate its earnings again, after its material missteps of the past, it's hard to imagine low the price might really go. Actually, it's very easy to imagine how low it might go.

Weknowwhatyouredoing.com, but we can't figure out why

Callum Haywood is Web developer and co-founder of Squared Logic IT solutions. At 18 years old, he is blessed by the most admirable of youthful qualities — indiscretion. How else do you explain Weknowwhatyouredoing.com?

Haywood describes his site as an experiment — it takes the public profiles of Facebook users and curates them under topics like ‘Who wants to get fired? Who's Hung-over? Who's taking Drugs? Who's got a new phone number?’

It’s all fine of course if you accept that that a "public" profile implies the right of ubiquitous distribution by third parties without regard to consequence. This looks like another one of those “just because you can doesn't mean you should” moments.

In its first 12 hours, the site attracted more than 10,000 UBs. Haywood helpfully includes a disclaimer: “All data is pulled directly from Facebook, it is not censored, and it is publicly accessible via the Graph API. I cannot be held responsible for any persons actions as a result of using this experiment.” His lawyers may tell him he's being a little naive on that last point. He also helpfully provides instructions for those snared by his spiders about how to remove themselves from the site — you change your post settings in Facebook, basically.

We should probably criticise Haywood for his actions, which will undoubtedly cause all kinds of distress to all kinds of people. Then again, that might be considered chump behaviour coming from Grok, who was a career journalist for more than a decade and unlike Haywood, was paid to pry.

It all comes down to motivation, and yes, motives matter. So we're just going cut him some slack for a moment to watch how this unfolds. We'll find out soon enough if he has an important point to make… or not. We did write to Haywood on Twitter, but as yet have not heard back in response. Of course, he may be fielding all sorts of questions from all sorts of people, or maybe he's sensibly taken his phone off the hook.

He's brave, we'll give him that.

Privacy never gets old

Finally, on Monday we flagged that Facebook was once again testing the bounds of the internet's "Don't be Creepy" operating rule with a new service called Friendshake. It identified friends (that's cool) and potential friends (no, that's not cool at all) in your location by interrogating out who has checked-in nearby you. Unkindly perhaps, as it was an opt in service, we compared it to the infamous Girls Around Me app which caused such a disturbance in the force earlier this year.

Friendshake lasted 24 hours. Someone at The Book with a well developed sense of threat detection pulled the plug .

Privacy never gets old, but Facebook is growing up.

Andrew Birmingham is the CEO of Silicon Gully Investments. Follow him on Twitter @ag_birmingham.

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