Less than three months after Jive was acquired by Aurea, the company has now sold the external communities piece of the Jive portfolio, Jive-x, to Lithium Technologies. In an announcement released by Lithium yesterday, Lithium stated its plans to continue offering the solution, and supporting Jive’s existing Jive-x customers through this transition.
A great new home for Jive-x
For Lithium, this is a great result: Jive has been a major competitor in the space for many years, even as it has backed off its investment in Jive-x over the last 12 months or so. By acquiring the Jive-x technology and customer base (I am told that Jive’s personnel are not immediately affected by the sale), Lithium is acquiring a significant boost to its market share, extending its dominance of the space while limiting other competitors’ opportunity to take advantage of Aurea/Jive’s exit from the external communities business. There’s no obvious immediate gain for Lithium from a technology capability standpoint; the two companies’ communities products are largely comparable, and so it’s likely that Lithium will be looking to migrate customers off Jive-x onto Lithium in the long term. While this presents some new decision points for existing Jive-x customers going forward, Lithium is a logical new home for the Jive-x business, and customers should be reassured that external communities are an area that Lithium understands well, and will continue to invest in going forward.
But what about Aurea’s strategy?
While it’s clear to see why Lithium would jump at the chance to acquire the Jive-x business, I’ll admit I’m still scratching my head as to the Aurea/Jive side of the decision. When Aurea announced its plans to acquire Jive in May, my assumption was that the Jive-x angle was a key factor in that decision – that it would become a logical extension of the company’s customer engagement solution set, building on its CRM offering, for example. While Aurea has been extremely quiet when it comes to sharing its strategy now that it has absorbed Jive, the company’s website suggests that this assumption was correct, and in fact both Jive products are now listed under Customer Engagement Solutions. With Jive-x now out of the picture, this leaves just Jive-n, which – quite frankly – is not a customer engagement solution, whichever way you look at it.
I’m told that more information is coming soon, but so far I’m not at all convinced that Aurea knows what it’s doing here. I can understand that the Jive-n business is the larger opportunity of the two, and therefore is where Aurea wants to focus, but at the same time, there’s a reason Jive needed to be bought in the first place – the market is shrinking/shifting and there are too many competitors. Aurea needs to find a way to combine Jive with a broader offering that makes its social collaboration offering either more compelling or, frankly, cheaper in the face of competition like Slack and Office 365/Microsoft Teams. There’s nothing currently in the Aurea portfolio that fits that description as far as I can see – but perhaps there are more acquisitions on the way.
I hope that there are some really good answers to all my concerns, because Jive has been a great company with a great product and a great relationship with its customers, and it would be a shame to see it all fade away. So come on Aurea, show your hand. Prove me wrong please.