Yammer goes down, companies all over go silent

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Back in the heady, sunlit uplands of Summer 2007 we used to complain when Twitter went down, so useful had it become. Even Mahalo CEO Jason Calacanis once decided Twitter was so crucial to his business that he would pay $100 a year for a premium account. Well, as we all now know, a few people cottoned on to that idea, and so Yammer was born to bring the usefulness of Twitter to internal company communications. It even won the TechCrunch 50 top prize. But today Yammer (at least as of this moment) is down, and even TechCrunch staff, who use it internally, have now gone silent. But the rot has not just set in at this humble blog. The UK’s BBC, which employs 25,000 people, has been trying out Yammer too.Update: As of 6.30 a.m. PDT / 2.30 p.m. GMT, it was still down in Europe, but appeared to be back up in the US).

James Cridland, Head of Future Media & Technology for BBC Audio & Music Interactive at the BBC, posted on his personal blog back in September in a post titled “Yammer = quite good really” that:

“Today, someone at the BBC registered themselves on it, and started inviting others. There are already 79 people in the list. And it’s really rather good. Now, I can talk about stuff we’re doing without worrying whether I’m irritating anyone outside the BBC with my talk of HWH, W12, BC5 D2 M1, etc etc. It’s rather fine.”

Although there is no suggestion the whole of the BBC is now in disarray, the fact that a senior figure noted how Yammer had gained currency inside the Beeb shows that Yammer is probably being used by well over 100 people there now, probably closer to 200.

Today Yammer has two main competitors Status, and Present.ly. And then there is the open source project called Laconi.ca.

So if Twitter was annoying when it went down, imagine how annoying it is to have your whole company’s internal communications taken out?

Update: As Cridland now confirms, Erik Huggers, the BBC’s director of its future media and technology division, uses Yammer and “recommended it to staff recently as a way of getting feedback.” This would mean several hundred staff are probably now using Yammer.

Update 2: As of 6.30 a.m. PDT it was still down in Europe, but appeared to be back up in the US.

Update 3: Yammer CEO David Sacks emails:

Yammer did not suffer an outage this morning. Rather a small percentage of users experienced a bug causing them to see an error page for several hours. Admittedly this is just as bad for those affected; however, it’s much less likely to be repeated than a scalability problem. (In other words, it is not an indication that we will have trouble scaling.)

  • James

    We use it for internal communications, though we only have a headcount of 6 though!

    It has been going in and out of service frequently for us so we installed Palringo and use their group chat feature instead.

  • http://twitter.com/pavlozahozhenko Pavlo Zahozhenko

    I guess, Yammer is written in Ruby on Rails, just like Twitter. At least, the screenshot in the article shows standard RoR error message, only yammer-styled.

  • http://james.cridland.net/ James Cridland

    Erik Huggers uses Yammer, and recommended it to staff recently as a way of getting feedback. As a result, your figures of staff numbers using Yammer are rather pessimistic. It’s proving to be a very useful tool.

    Keen to reassure you that the BBC is not in disarray – at least, not because of Yammer going down, at any rate… (grin)

  • Dmitry

    Another success story of RoR?

    • Steve Roach

      Failure of Twitter and Yammer has/had nothing to do with Ruby on Rails.

      • Envy

        you are correct, but then again, everything that uses RoR has scaling issues, name one that does not.

  • http://www.rofl.name/roflcopter/ Brian

    “So if Twitter was annoying when it went down, imagine how annoying it is to have your whole company’s internal communications taken out?”

    I don’t think Yammer will ever be quite the only form of internal communications mike. People still have phones and emails, they just won’t be able to pretend to be working on that uber important project, or waste some time organising the xmas party.

  • wesley

    This should have been made as a script that runs internally on each company’s server.

  • http://besidethat.com besidethat

    its working good now, 6 am on dallas!

    • http://www.pot-limit-omaha.net/ Thomas

      What up? It works all right over there in Europe! But I think we’ll never use it.

  • http://human3rror.com John

    wow. that stinks.

  • http://www.sakri.net/blog sakri

    Well, in Dutch (phonetically speaking), “Yammer” translates to “too bad” or “what a pity”.

    • Ørv

      Nice one.

      I didn’t read like that, but now that you’ve pointed this out I can’t read it anyway else.

      ;)

      • http://www.trickyplay.com Thomas

        Same one here in German!
        Too bad that some companies never pay attention to that.

  • http://chubbymommyrunningclub.blogspot.com juliejulie

    “they just won’t be able to pretend to be working on that uber important project, or waste some time organising the xmas party.”

    Waste time planning the xmas party? Are you kidding? I’m guessing the BBC has rather fabulous xmas parties and planning them is time well spend. I’ve seen “Bridget Jones” I know these things…

    • http://www.rofl.name/roflcopter/ Brian

      I suppose its one of the few times each year that ‘chubbymommies’ get any action from the drunken office juniors.

      • http://chubbymommyrunningclub.blogspot.com juliejulie

        Oh Brian, you tease! I sure hope you’re a janitor…

    • http://www.rofl.name/roflcopter/ Brian

      I’m actually the director general of the BBC and after suspending Jonathon Ross for 3 months i’m now about to cancel the xmas party for all, i hope you’re pleased with yourself julie.

      • http://chubbymommyrunningclub.blogspot.com juliejulie

        This is the saddest story I’ve ever heard…I’m crying in my cupcake as I type.

  • http://blog.yoavfarhi.com/ Yoav

    Works for us (including web and IM)

  • Samantha

    Don’t forget about QikCom (http://www.qikcom.com), we actually like it better than Yammer.

  • http://www.iknowthe.net Emma Kane

    Well, that’s the risk in using a third party startup for your corporate comms. Due dilligence anyone?

  • http://thespaceport.us Mark T. Clemente

    We have been using Yammer at my company for the last two months and have found it very useful as a collaborative tool. We have not experienced any outages since we started using it. We have maybe a dozen users using a combination of the desktop application and the mobile and web apps.

    No Complaints about Yammer here!

  • http://www.rhizalabs.com Josh Knauer

    It is amazing to me that so many companies are willing to jump to business-critical web services like this, controlled by third-parties without any real accountability.

  • http://www.techcrunch.com Erick Schonfeld

    It’s up again, at least for me.

  • http://myphillynetwork.com Anthony Farrior

    IT’s because I wore my yammer shirt under my work shirt today right? Man! It worked for the Phillies, what happened?

    Unfortunately Yammer is running off of Twitter whose running off of ruby on rails, so history should’ve taught somebody something…

  • anon

    OMG!!! THEY WILL HAVE TO USE EMAIL NOW!!! WORSE, THEY WILL HAVE TO TALK TO EACHOTHER ON THE PHONE USING FULL SENTENCES!!! NOOOOOOOOO!!!

  • Dann

    “Twitter went down, so useful had it become. Even Mahalo CEO Jason Calacanis once decided Twitter was so crucial to his business that he would pay $100 a year for a premium account. ”

    If Jason Calacanis uses it, it must be bad. If his business uses it, you know it’s bad.

  • http://startupmeme.com/yammer-takes-hammering-down-in-the-uk/ Yammer takes hammering; down in the UK | Startup Meme - Technology Startup and Latest Tech News

    […] [via TechCrunch] […]

  • Neel

    I was finding Yammer very useful for a while until it stopped letting me post via email – everything started getting blocked by their spam filters for some reason. asked them why on their forums but no response after a week. if anyone from Yammer is listening, what gives?

  • http://www.calacanis.com Jason

    Twitter will have a professional and corporate version, that includes groups, in the next six months. it will cost $10-20 a year and it will be amazing.

    Not sure it will be amazing enough for Mahalo to switch our Yammer group to Twitter, but who knows. Frankly, it’s great to have two separate systems: one for personal and one professional.

  • http://blog.esme.us Dennis Howlett

    At the risk of stating the obvious, the current trend of offering ‘in the cloud’ messaging for corporate entities is a doomed strategy. Enterprise has an entirely different model that reflects issues such as confidentiality and governance. That means behind the firewall solutions. However, those same solutions need other attributes such as federation to allow for the controlled rollout of departments and then potentially across the supply chain. But even that isn’t enough.

    Content with out purpose or context is meaningless. Therefore, to be truly successful and deliver demonstrable business value, such systems have to be integrated into the fabric of operations. That also has design implications.

    These are not trivial issues, as every provider has found.

  • http://www.techzemplary.com Mukul Joshi @ Techzemplary

    I second you Dennis. Well said!

  • http://bowblog.com Steve Bowbrick

    Over 600 users on the BBC’s Yammer account now…

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