Given Workspace's Demise, One May Wonder if Meta Ever Took the Company Seriously | TechCrunch - Latest Global News

Given Workspace’s Demise, One May Wonder if Meta Ever Took the Company Seriously | TechCrunch

Meta, Facebook’s parent company, launched an enterprise version of the popular social network in 2015. For a company based on a consumer product that makes most of its money from advertising, trying to make it into the global business always seemed like a challenge. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that it lasted so long.

Meta pulled the plug on the company’s product on Tuesday, bringing down the curtain on the company’s experiment nine years after its launch. It’s worth noting that from the beginning there was some skepticism that a company like Facebook could pull this off. The company is a different animal than the consumer world. It emphasizes privacy and security and requires a set of backend tools designed specifically for the company.

As Brent Leary, founder and chief analyst of CRM Essentials, said at the launch, it would be difficult for Facebook to make that leap. “Facebook could do it, but it’s difficult to build a platform that meets the expectations of so many different types of human interactions in both business and personal contexts,” he said at the time.

Nine years later, Leary says it’s not surprising the product has been discontinued. “This is just another example of a consumer technology platform failing to successfully move into the enterprise technology space, but one wonders why it has taken so long to get to the inevitable conclusion and with companies like Microsoft and others to compete with Salesforce/Slack,” Leary told TechCrunch.

Ray Wang, founder and principal analyst at Constellation Research, says Workspace was ultimately a side project of the much larger consumer side of the house, and when Meta went into efficiency mode last year, the signs were clear for Workspace.

“The reality was that in order to support a company, the CIO’s job, the CEO’s job, the HR manager’s job is at stake, and a company sale is not done in a haphazard manner,” Wang told TechCrunch. It requires dedicated salespeople, a customer success team and a product roadmap for companies to build on, and Wang says Meta hasn’t built that back-end company structure.

Still, the project wasn’t a complete failure, says Alan Pelz-Sharpe, founder and principal analyst at Deep Analysis, which has millions of users and a number of major brands, but ultimately he sees the failure for similar reasons as Wang.

“Enterprise buyers and technology users want long-term support and predictability, and that is why, despite many shortcomings, most will stick with companies like Microsoft or Salesforce because they know they will always be there for them,” he said.

In an interview with Meta CIO Atish Banerjea in 2019, he indicated that the company was taking the company extremely seriously, at least from a technical perspective, and spoke to CIOs of potential users like Delta Airlines about how Facebook was using Workplace internally and how it worked integrating with third-party tools like SAP and Salesforce, integrations that these companies would need (and that Slack and Teams are particularly good at today).

The idea behind the enterprise version, at least in 2015, was that everyone used Facebook for their personal life, and it seemed logical to bring that to the workplace, giving users a similar look and feel to the tool they were using at home. And at a time that was pushing the consumerization of IT and bringing tools that people used in their personal lives into work, a working version of Facebook made a lot of sense.

It’s also important to remember that nine years ago there was no clear winner in the corporate communications space. Slack was still in its infancy and Microsoft Teams was still a year away. Salesforce had tried to get into this space years ago with the release of Chatter, recognizing that there was a need for this type of product, but it never really caught on and most of the related applications haven’t been available for years.

Of course, Salesforce would eventually buy Slack for a whopping $28 billion, so the company knew there was something in this space. Despite having millions of subscribers, Facebook has missed its opportunity in business.

“In hindsight, this must be viewed as a major missed opportunity for Facebook; When it launched in 2016, no one foresaw the pandemic years in which Teams, Zoom, etc. would flourish, but due to underinvestment and lack of interest from management, Facebook Workplace never really had a chance,” Pelz-Sharpe said.

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