Zimbra sale a sign Yahoo finally understands itself

Yahoo may be putting Zimbra up for sale, but it's not because Zimbra isn't delivering its side of the bargain.

Has Yahoo's acquisition of Zimbra failed? All Things Digital reports that Zimbra, an open-source collaboration server company acquired by Yahoo in 2007 for $350 million, is being actively shopped aroundto potential buyers. If so, it's a failure of Yahoo to go enterprise, and not a failure of Zimbra's technology.

Zimbra was always a bit of a stretch for consumer-focused Yahoo. Zimbra, after all, has always been about the enterprise. While the company flirted with building out its enterprise focus, that distraction become unbearable with Microsoft's advances and its own crumbling fortunes.

Despite Yahoo's poor stewardship of the Zimbra business, it's impressive that Zimbra continues to grow. From my own conversations with various Zimbra executives, sales continue to be brisk and community enthusiasm goes from strength to strength.

Given these facts, Zimbra could be a jewel in the crown of a variety of companies, including Google and Comcast, as All Things Digital suggests, but also IBM, to invigorate its Lotus technology; Adobe, to provide additional SKUs to sell to its broad, SMB customer base; Oracle, to give it a compelling alternative to Microsoft Outlook/Exchange; or a variety of others.

Former Zimbra investor and board member Peter Fenton once told me that he regretted selling Zimbra, as he felt like it had tremendous potential that was only beginning to be realized. Yahoo, with its focus on consumers, was never the right home for Zimbra to realize that potential.

Selling Zimbra may give the open-source collaboration and messaging leader an even stronger position from which to expand.

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