Peoplefluent Gains Social Platform as Private Equity Firm, Bedford Funding, Invests in Socialtext

In a press release today, Bedford Funding – the private equity firm that owns Talent Management solutions provider Peoplefluent – announced a strategic investment in privately held Socialtext, a provider of enterprise social software based in Palo Alto, California. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Bedford Funding FamilyFounded in 2002, Socialtext provides enterprise social networking tools – including microblogging, wikis, profiles, social profile matching and other tools to connect employees and information – to more than 6500 mid-sized and large enterprises across the globe. Their customers include such recognized brands such as Getty Images, Symantec, Walgreens, Weight Watchers, Warner Bros. Entertainment, McGraw Hill and Rutgers University.

Bedford Funding is a private equity firm that has been solely focused on investments in the Human Capital Management technology marketplace. Peoplefluent was formed in July 2011, when Bedford combined its three previous acquisitions (Authoria in 2008, PeopleClick in 2009, and Aquire in 2011) into a consolidated offering for integrated talent management under the new Peoplefluent brand.

Socialtext is joining the Bedford Funding family, but will remain an independent entity and remain under the leadership of current CEO Eugene Lee. The strategic investment will infuse Socialtext with funding to drive expanded development and accelerate strategy execution. Operating as an independent entity, Socialtext will be positioned into Peoplefluent’s more than 5000 customers, while continuing to support and sell into customers utilizing other enterprise systems including ERP and Talent Management suites, as well as Microsoft SharePoint and IBM Lotus Connections.

Bedford’s strategic investment in Socialtext places a strong provider of enterprise social networking in the same family as Peoplefluent, and as such, plans are emerging that will integrate the two platforms to enhance employee collaboration and knowledge sharing.

Peoplefluent today provides recruiting, onboarding, performance, compensation, succession planning, workforce communications and business intelligence to more than five million users across 5000 customers in 214 countries and territories across the globe. While Peoplefluent has emerged as an innovative leader in mobile talent management, it has lagged in the emerging market of social talent management processes. Earlier this year, Peoplefluent announced its move into social learning with the acquisition of Strategia Communications, a small provider of Learning Management Solutions based out of Canada. Now, with the incorporation of Socialtext into Bedford Funding, the remaining social gaps can be bridged with integrations between the two platforms.

We look forward to being the growth engine in Silicon Valley for Peoplefluent to extend and enhance its Talent Management offering with Socialtext as its social layer”   – Eugene Lee, Socialtext CEO.

Integrating the Socialtext and Peoplefluent platforms is expected to drive significant growth into Peoplefluent as it benefits from competitive social capabilities delivered through close collaboration between two entities of Bedford Funding. But will integration be enough?

As I have written before, the question remains whether or not next generation experiential systems (as opposed to transactional systems or systems of engagement) can be assembled through integrations, or if they require the incorporation of social technologies into the core technology platform for more advanced business support and analytics. Vendors are taking their stand on either side of this “debate” and for now, the path forward for Peoplefluent appears to be one of integrated social technology. Many of their customers today are already using 3rd party social collaboration tools such as Yammer, Jive and Microsoft SharePoint, and so integrations with Socialtext should be straightforward and rapid. The unique opportunity facing Peoplefluent is the ability to leverage Socialtext to transform people processes with social; the question is whether or not transformation can come through integration.

My POV:

Bedford Funding has been very specific in their positioning of this transaction, citing that the investment is to enable accelerated development and leadership of the Socialtext platform and bring social collaboration into its Peoplefluent platform. The deal is clearly a ‘win’ for all involved:

  • Peoplefluent customers interested in Socialtext capabilities, as there will be greater emphasis on sales, integration and support between Peoplefluent and Socialtext solutions;
  • Socialtext customers, as the investment infuses Socialtext with the funding necessary to grow development and innovation;
  • Bedford Funding, which now has a comprehensive portfolio spanning human capital technologies including the social networking technology necessary for comprehensive collaboration and workplace transformation;
  • Other TM/HCM vendors adding social to their portfolio benefit as well, as this transaction continues to raise the visibility of social technologies in people processes. Most Human Capital Management and Talent Management vendors are currently adding social capabilities into their suites, either through integrations to social technologies (such as Socialtext, Yammer, Jive, Chatter and others) or by incorporating these capabilities into their technology platforms (Saba, Oracle Fusion, and literally tens of startups and niche providers in social performance, social goals and others). As the social enterprise emerges, HR and business leaders will find increased technological support for harnessing the power of collaboration and connectivity to improve how work gets done, everyday, across the enterprise.

This transaction should light a fire under any HCM vendor sitting on the fence regarding whether or not to integrate or incorporate social with their offerings. For the enterprise buyer, it is further evidence that social networking is moving into the enterprise to create the social enterprise. If your organization has not yet established its strategies around use of social technologies, today’s news should serve as a rallying point for prioritizing those conversations.

For another important perspective on this acquisition, please review the post by my Constellation Research colleague, Alan Lepofsky.

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  1. [...] Human Capital Management solutions, but Socialtext will also remain an independent entity set to expand its position in Enterprise Social [...]

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