Telligent Buys Zimbra from VMWareFor all the talk about email being dead, social collaboration tools sure do seem to lean pretty heavily on it, and email is exactly what Zimbra brings to Telligent after it was bought out from VMWare this week.

Asocial Email

Telligent is a collaboration specialist, and it allows customers to build a common work spaces where people can chat, create reports, import social data and generally find needed information on their projects. Email, on the other hand, is not inherently collaborative, and often, messages get lost there or people spend many lost hours combing through it in general.

Perhaps that is why Zimbra is on its third owner in just as many years. VMWare bought it from Yahoo in 2010, and now it’s sold it off for an undisclosed amount. That’s not a knock on Zimbra, as far as we are concerned, though that may be some people’s perception of it. Instead, we see it as a byproduct of shifting markets, and established companies working to redefine themselves in the cloud, mobile and social spaces.

Both Yahoo and VMWare, specifically, are working to find their respective ways with management changes and broad realignments in the past year.

Telligent’s Social Depth

As a company that focuses on social networking, Telligent was recently named as a Forrester strong performer in a brand new category called Social Depth. These are companies that straddle the line between customer focused and internally focused social approaches, as combining these groups adds, um depth, to each’s own functionalities.

Social depth is what Forrester is calling tools that give customers a toe hold in their climb along the customer journey. Companies like Telligent offer customers a way to build a so called public community site where people can post their own questions and ideas, and read product and service reviews. These social sites provide the reviews people like to read when evaluating a product or service, but the sites themselves also do well in search rankings, another useful marketing tool.

Telligent offers enterprise and community editions of its product, something Zimbra also does. This presents Zimbra’s email offerings at a much lower total cost of ownership, Patrick Brandt, Telligent CEO, noted in a blog post about the acquisition.

Zimbra also had its biggest quarter for growth in terms of revenue and new customers, Brandt noted, and the two companies will merge to form Zimbra, a combined company that offers all the functionality of both. Perhaps because so many companies are themselves a bit stymied by the transition from traditional, email based, collaboration to social business, this kind of move makes a bit of sense. At least for Telligent it makes a bit of sense. 

As for VMWare, a company based on the idea of virtualization, it becomes clear the company is still transitioning, but since we don’t know how much money was involved in the deal, we don’t know how it came out on its end. It’s likely VMWare sold Zimbra at a loss, but within its own realignment strategy, it probably simply didn't fit, and would have been a resource drain anyway.

A Zimbra and Telligent merger should mean customers of both will be able to connect internal and external communications, and use that content in various ways. The ability to slice and dice that data and reroute it through the appropriate channel could give Telligent the flexibility it needs in a time of such technological upheaval. The key will be in just how integrated the two become, as that is usually one of the tripping points many companies suffer.