Cloud

Here's Yammer cofounder David Sacks' goodbye memo to his team at Microsoft

David Sacks Robert Scoble Flickr
Image Credit: Robert Scoble/Flickr

Updated Friday with clarification that Sacks’ memo was a Yammer message, not an email.

Today Yammer cofounder and chief executive David Sacks gave his farewell to Microsoft, two years after the tech giant bought the business-focused social network for $1.2 billion. On his way out, Sacks sent out a long Microsoft-style memo.

In the Yammer message that went out to the Yammer team, Sacks talks about how Yammer started off tiny, with its first deal coming in at “just $25K,” and has grown so large that Tesco is about to roll out the software to 250,000 users. And he says the world has come to validate Yammer’s “original beliefs” about consumerization in enterprise software and other subjects.

Corporate culture apparently has gotten the better of Sacks, who seems to have spent some time in the Microsoft School of Long Memos. (Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella himself seems to have graduated from that school, having dashed off a memo of his own spanning more than 3,000 words earlier this month.)

Like Nadella, Sacks didn’t say all that much, but he did align with Microsoft’s latest strategic positioning. Sacks also dutifully pays tribute to Nadella.

“Yammer has also made a huge impact on Microsoft’s leadership in cloud, influencing how Microsoft builds software for the cloud-first, mobile-first, data-driven world, and this focus will only accelerate with the changes Satya is driving,” Sacks writes.

Read the entire memo below.

Dear team-
Almost six years after founding Yammer, and two since our acquisition by Microsoft, the time has come for me to move on and do new things. Building Yammer with all of you has been the best experience of my career, so first and foremost I would like to thank all of you for joining with me on this unique adventure. At every step, I’ve felt privileged to be working with the highest caliber teammates — from Adam and our exec team, to the original Team That Moved (from LA), to our teams at 410 Townsend, 1355 Market, and our field offices, to our VCs and board members, and finally to our champions and coworkers at Microsoft, with whom we joined forces.
Starting a company always tests the line between belief and delusion. One of our first VCs likes to ask entrepreneurs what they believe that the rest of the world doesn’t. In the case of Yammer, we believed that social networking would become a major tool for enterprise communication, at a time when it was generally (mis)perceived as a form of amateur media (or “user-generated content”). Furthermore, we believed that employees, thirsting for the openness brought by this software, would pull it into their companies from the bottom up. The idea that enterprise software could be made viral stood in sharp contrast to traditional top-down distribution models at the time.
Today, thousands of companies are using social to transform their organizations, and consumerization is a major trend in enterprise software. So our original beliefs are no longer controversial. This stands not in contravention of the work we did, but as the ultimate testament to it. We all know how hard it was to get here.
It’s amazing that in just a few years, Yammer could grow from a small band who set out to win TechCrunch40, to a fledgling enterprise startup virtually begging for our first deal (just $25k), to a 400-person organization closing multi-million dollar deals across the globe and signing up over 10 million corporate users.
Over the past two years at Microsoft, we’ve continued to see enormous growth as a result of both Yammer innovation and integration with Office 365, the largest paid commercial cloud service. We recently signed one of our largest deals ever, a 250,000 user sale at Tesco that will roll us out beyond traditional knowledge workers to every grocery store employee. Yammer has also made a huge impact on Microsoft’s leadership in cloud, influencing how Microsoft builds software for the cloud-first, mobile-first, data-driven world, and this focus will only accelerate with the changes Satya is driving.
More than any specific milestone or accomplishment, however, I’m most proud of the culture we have created. Yammer has always sought to embody the openness, agility, and esprit de corps that we wish to encourage at other companies. We’ve always tried to foster dissent because we know that diverse points of view keep a company strong and competitive in a world changing faster than any one person can keep track of. When Microsoft’s own Yammer network exploded in the wake of the acquisition, it was gratifying to see that there was no shortage of vigorous debate taking place within the larger company – but perhaps that shouldn’t be surprising at the company founded by Bill Gates, a man known for running the ultimate Socratic organization.
Moving on from a company one’s founded is always bittersweet, but I will always be proud of what we did together. I look back at those years we spent building as the most fulfilling time of my life. I am grateful that all of our hard work will continue to live on in the product long after I am gone. I hope future generations of employees will not only continue our mission but stay connected to the founding generation and the values and ideals it represents. I cannot thank you all enough for marching by my side, believing in our cause when no one else did, and giving Yammer 120%; for that I am forever grateful. I am excited to see all of you continue to experiment, evolve, integrate and grow Yammer to transform how every organization works including Microsoft.

David