Social Enterprise Player Jive to Acquire Start-up Proximal Labs

Published on April 13, 2011
by Arik Hesseldahl

Jive Software, probably the fastest-moving of the social enterprise software players, is at it again. Today it announced it has made an acquisition: Proximal Labs.

Proximal just barely got its public start in January, and specializes in combining expertise around “big data” to enterprise social networks. Its CEO is David Gutelius, who was chief scientist at an outfit called Social Kinetics which was acquired by RedBrick Health. He’s joining Jive as its new chief social scientist.

Financial terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed, and its hard to make a guess at its valuation because it hasn’t disclosed any of its funding. Proximal specializes in building software that anticipates your needs. It builds what it calls “smart apps” that plug into a social media platform and learn about the user over time so that it can make recommendations based on the context of the situation at hand. Proximal has also done some fundamental work in applying machine learning, information retrieval and social analytics with an eye toward making social networks–in this case the ones that you’ll use in the office–more useful.

Gutelius told me that the company started working with Proximal in the fall–back when Proximal was still in stealth mode. “The idea was that we would hook our engine up to the Jive platform and create this brand new capability, to bridge the gap between internal collaborative communities and the social Web,” he said. The relationship grew, and earlier this year it was clear to all concerned that they fit together.

The plan at Jive is to use Proximal’s technology to extract useful intelligence out of social information into how employees, customers and partners interact, and to boost the analytics capability of the Jive platform to provide rich data on who’s an expert on what, and what they do. “We believe that the future of work is personalized,” Brian Roddy, Jive’s senior VP for engineering told me. “There’s a lot of noise in the discussion, so the point is to filter it down to a point where it’s not only manageable, but targeted at the work that people are doing.”

Jive has about 3,000 corporate customers including Cisco Systems, Nike, VMWare, Intel and Yum Brands, totaling about 15 million end users. Last year it landed a big $30 million investment from Kleiner Perkins who joined its other investor Sequoia Capital, which invested $15 million in 2007. And last year it brought on Tony Zingale, a veteran of Mercury Interactive, as its CEO.

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