The acquisition arena for cloud-based employee-management software is heating up, as Salesforce.com snaps up Rypple for an undisclosed sum. The talent-management software market is estimated to be valued at $6 billion.
The oddly named Rypple aims to take the dreaded annual performance review and improve it by making the process more social. The software, used by Facebook, Spotify, Gilt Groupe and others, allows users to create objectives and goals then post them for others to comment upon. As TechCrunch describes it:
The software has been compared to a “Zynga for the enterprise,” and allows managers to track projects, guide their team and give kudos to deserving staff for others to see within its online application.
Salesforce said it plans to rename it Successforce [small ‘f’] and integrate it with its Sales Cloud and Chatter applications. But that name’s awfully close to SuccessFactors [capital ‘F’], which SAP recently bought for $3.4 billion, and already giving copy editors everywhere fits. Add in that former SAP exec John Wookey will head Successforce, and Dennis Howlett at ZDNet sees this as a poke in the eye for SAP. He wonders whether enterprises are really ready for social talent management. He says:
[Salesforce CEO Mark] Benioff is making a habit of this and it is a dangerous path to tread: hire a well-known personality in the tech game and then figure out what they will do. In this case make a modest acquisition our rock star can call his own. Effectively, Salesforce.com becomes an überincubator for enterprise ‘stuff’ that may (or may not) pay off. This one might backfire.
In an interview with TechCrunch, Daniel Debow, co-CEO and co-founder of Rypple, says that though the world of work has changed, the process to manage people hasn’t—and it needs to. He explains:
Rypple amplifies behaviors that drive real performance. When it comes to coaching, goal setting, evaluations, and more, we are helping drive performance by actually replicating many of the social actions people take in their lives.
And though this acquisition has been called “a bold step” by financial group Susquehanna, one of the commenters on this Wall Street Journal post disagrees. He says:
The system is little more than a tool that allows managers to provide feedback without any kind of human contact. It’s the anti-social human capital tool.