Two online reports from India suggest that Salesforce.com is interested in acquiring web conferencing company Dimdim (which is based in Massachusetts, but has a development center and investors in India). Neither company has confirmed or commented on the story.
SiliconIndia has an unattributed short write up which may simply be referencing a longer article by Shrija Agrawal on VCCircle. Agrawal says that Salesforce representatives were seen at Dimdim’s development center in Hyderabad to carry out due diligence.
If the rumors turn out to be accurate and the deal goes through, I have a hard time seeing the business value to Salesforce.com in continuing to prominently market Dimdim as a standalone web conferencing solution. It seems to me (and I stress that this is pure personal speculation) that the costs and overhead of running a pure-play web conferencing company competing against so many other large players in the space would be a distraction from Salesforce.com’s primary business of CRM, where they have primacy in their industry.
Having a collaboration component built in to the CRM platform obviously has value, and the acquisition would make perfect sense as a way to bolster that aspect of the Salesforce.com functionality layers. Indeed, Salesforce.com already offers a “Collaboration Platform” featuring Chatter as part of its Force.com suite of web-based hosted applications. But like that current “cloud platform for business apps,” it feels as though this is an afterthought to Salesforce.com’s main business and is available mainly because they already have the applications on hand to support the CRM products and because they didn’t want to abandon existing customers when Salesforce.com bought the other applications.
It’s hard for me to envision Salesforce.com truly going head-to-head with the likes of Cisco, IBM, Oracle, and Microsoft as a one-stop software shop for many different types of applications. I may be wrong… I have no particular connections or insights into the Salesforce business model. But I think we may see the same type of gradual fold-in that we saw after Microsoft acquired Placeware and relabeled it as Live Meeting. First a reduction in standalone product advertising and marketing, then technical developments targeted only at supporting internal integration into the main product suite, and finally, complete roll up into the parent suite, with single-application licensing of the collaboration product tolerated but not encouraged.
Opposing opinions and predictions are welcomed in the comments section.