Thoughts On The Lithium Acquisition And Community Space?

(Richard Millington) #1

Following news of Lithium’s acquisition yesterday (and Jive’s from earlier in the month), we should probably reflect quickly about the community space.

We’ve been hearing rumours for some time now about both companies high staff churn/layoffs, reducing costs, and facing pressure on prices from companies like Salesforce.

This follows a trend we’ve been seeing for a while which is the traditional brand community space has peaked and is now a mature market. From an English-speaking brand perspective, it’s probably not going to get much bigger than it is now and the majority of platform purchases will be upgrades/migrations rather than companies building a new community.

I expect both companies (acquired by private equity) to be run as mature cash cows with a focus on maximizing profit (probably by reducing costs). With a few exceptions (Skype), most platforms don’t get much better after an acquisition.

For you, it probably puts you in a very favourable negotiating position. We know with at least one prospective client Lithium made an incredible offer too.

The growth in the broader community space will be on lower budget communities such as those running groups for Facebook (who are pushing groups hard again), Slack and new platforms that will emerge.

Very keen to hear our community’s thoughts on this though. What do you think? What are you seeing? What are your experiences?

(chiprodgers) #2

I like both Jive and Lithium products. They have clear value propositions and differentiated offerings. But competition has heated up, many organizations have deployed community platforms (so there is less greenfield opportunity), and I suspect offerings are getting more commoditized at this point.

  • Salesforce is pushing hard. When companies of all sizes have already made huge investments in Salesforce as their CRM platform (contracts, training, Lightning and Ajax developers, staffing, integrations, etc), even with a weak product, Salesforce can make the case that Community Cloud will be more tightly connected to customer engagement, the sales force, customer support, etc. Add in the investment in Lightning developers and a massive partner/apps ecosystem and it’s a compelling argument against community “point solutions”.

  • Then when you have other collaboration platforms eating at the edges like Facebook Workplace, Slack, Yammer, SharePoint, Chatter, and even LinkedIn Groups, the decisions can get more confused and challenging for the Jives and Lithiums or even Igloo, Higher Logic, etc.

I’d like to see Lithium and Jive continue as viable market players. But there are rough waters ahead.


(Sarah Hawk) #3

I wonder what it will mean for open source products. Having control of your own platform feels like a more secure option.

(Richard Millington) #4

'I’ve spoken and attended CMX events in the past.

I’d recommend them, especially the west coast ones. They’re very motivating
and great for connecting with awesome people.

The speaker quality (like most events) tends to vary. Some are more
aspirational than motivational, but it’s a pretty good balance usually.

I think Workplace / Slack is probably the biggest threat to Jive where 70%
of their communities are internal and Salesforce probably the biggest
threat to Lithium (although Higher Logic is probably marginally edging into

  • Rich

(chiprodgers) #5

FYI that one of the most talked-about roadmap announcement at JiveWorld was unified authentication between internal and external communities and also between related sister communities (i.e., your login to a company’s community would also give you access to that company’s partner communities assuming you have relevant rights). They also dropped any references to Jive-N vs Jive-X and the clarification post-event was that they will be blurring the lines or dropping it altogether. All pointing toward Jive putting more focus on external communities again.

(Richard Millington) #6

Interesting if they’re moving back into that sector. It’s a very competitive one. And there’s nothing to stop a ‘slack’ or new ‘ning’ from external communities appearing.

Would be curious to see what happens in a year’s time. That will give a pretty good indication of where things are.