Autodesk Acquires Social Collaboration Company Qontext

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Today Autodesk, best known for its AutoCAD product, announced that it has acquired enterprise social networking company Qontext from the India-based incubator Pramati. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Autodesk plans to roll Qontext’s functionality into its Autodesk 360 cloud collaboration product. No word yet as to whether Qontext will still be available as a standalone service. Update: Pramati Technologies will continue to support existing Qontext customers, but Autodesk is just integrating Qontext’s technology into 360 and will not offer a Qontext service.

Qontext was one of the most interesting but least-discussed players in the Enterprise 2.0 business. Its killer features are the ability to integrate other applications into its activity stream and embed an activity stream into any other web application. For example you could set it up so that any time a salesperson enters a new lead into a CRM system, an update appears in the Qontext stream, which is embedded into a manager’s e-mail and BI dashboard systems.

It’s not hard to imagine how Qontext could be used by Autodesk’s user base of engineers, architects and other designers to collaborate on projects from directly within their tools — in fact, AutoCAD WS recently added an activity stream feature. But I do hope that it remains available for other enterprise users.

Autodesk has been branching into social media of late. In July it acquired mobile video-sharing application Socialcam, and last year it acquired Instructables, a community site for sharing designs and instructions for building stuff. The Qontext acquisition fits more clearly into Autodesk’s existing software.

Microsoft’s $1.2 billion dollar acquisition of Yammer was the most visible deal in the social collaboration market thus far, but there’s been a lot of activity in the past 18 months. VMware acquired Socialcast, SAP acquired SuccessFactors, Salesforce.com acquired Rypple, Citrix acquired Podio, Socialtext was acquired by Bedford Funding and Jive went public.

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