Jive Software Drops Below Post-IPO Low As Enterprise Takes A Second Look At Private Social Networks

Jive Software is hovering below its post-IPO low after an investment bank lowered its rating on the company, citing research that shows enterprise companies are taking a cautious view of private social networks that we see from Salesforce.com, Yammer and a host of other competitors.

BMO Capital Markets said the market potential for social business software is large and they believe Jive has the best product, but there is a cold reality that market enthusiasm is waning to some degree. Here’s what they said in a statement today:

…However, our checks this week suggest that the market has moved past the initial hype and early adopter phase, that the next round of corporate buyers are taking a more sober look at the ROI from social platforms, and that the likelihood of upside to the Street’s billings growth estimates for Jive in 2H12 is lower. If we’re right that the tipping point is at least a few more quarters out, we conclude that Jive shares are more likely to tread water at the mid- teens level than to rally sharply back into the $20-$25 range.”

Jive’s stock price is hovering around $13 per share, its lowest prices since its IPO last year. Leena Rao wrote at the time that on the eve of its initial trading, the company priced its IPO at $12 per share, giving the company a $600 million-plus valuation. Jive originally set the range between $8 and $10 per share. On that December day, it opened at $15.12 per share, up 27 percent from its pricing.

This makes for some interesting market dynamics as vendors compete for attention from a more fickle customer base. It raises questions about what customers really want and need.  Vendors now offer a choice of lightweight, cloud-based services, on-premise solutions or a combination of both. But it’s questionable if the market offerings we see today really serves customers’s needs.  The market’s reaction today proves that in many respects.

Customers want proof that social technologies have value across the organization. They want social technologies that become part of their work.  Too often,  enterprise social networks act as a separate silo where people interact for the sake of using a social media solution. That needs to change. We’ll see that change happen over the next year as more vendors recognize it’s more about making the job easier to do than a “like” button or the novelty of s Twitter like activity stream.