With Workplace ending, it’s fair to wonder if Meta was ever serious about the company.

Meta, Facebook’s parent company, launched an enterprise version of the prominent social network in 2015. It always seemed like a stretch for a company based on a consumer product that made most of its money from ads that used it in the business. . Perhaps the biggest surprise is that it lasted so long.

Meta pulled the plug on the enterprise product on Tuesday, drawing the curtain on the enterprise experiment nine years after its launch. It’s worth noting that there was some skepticism from the beginning that a company like Facebook could pull this off. The company is a different animal from the world of consumption. Values ​​privacy and security and requires a set of back-end tools designed specifically for the enterprise.

As Brent Leary, founder and principal analyst at CRM Essentials, said at the launch, it would be difficult for Facebook to make that leap. “Facebook could do it, but it’s difficult to build a platform that meets the expectations of so many different types of human interactions in the business context, as well as the personal one,” he said at the time.

Nine years later, Leary says it’s not surprising the product stopped working. “This is just another example of a consumer technology platform failing to successfully advance into the enterprise technology space, but it makes you wonder why it took them so long to reach what was a foregone conclusion, competing with companies like Microsoft and Salesforce/Slack,” Leary told TechCrunch.

Ray Wang, founder and principal analyst at Constellation Research, says Workspace was ultimately a side project to the much larger consumer side of the house, and when Meta went into efficiency mode last year, the writing was on. the wall for Workspace.

“The reality was that for a company to receive support, the CIO’s job is on the line, the CEO’s job is on the line, the HR manager’s job is on the line, and you don’t just sell a company. messy way,” Wang told TechCrunch. It requires dedicated sales reps, a customer success team and a product roadmap that companies can develop, and Wang says Meta didn’t build that back-end business structure.

Still, the project wasn’t a total failure, says Alan Pelz-Sharpe, founder and principal analyst at Deep Analysis, with millions of users and a host of big brands, but he ultimately believes it will fail for reasons similar to Wang’s. .

“Enterprise (business) buyers and technology users want long-term support and predictability, and that is why, despite many shortcomings, most will stick with companies like Microsoft or Salesforce, because they know they will always be there to help.” them,” he said. saying.

In a 2019 interview, Meta CIO Atish Banerjea indicated that, at least from an engineering perspective, the company was taking the business very seriously and was talking to the CIOs of potential users like Delta Airlines about how Facebook was doing. using Workplace internally, including how it integrated with third-party tools like SAP and Salesforce, integrations that these companies would need (and that Slack and Teams are particularly good at today).

The idea behind the business version, at least in 2015, was for everyone to use Facebook for their personal life, and it seemed logical to carry that over to the workplace, giving users a similar look and feel to the tool they used at home. And at a time when there was a push to consumerize IT, bringing tools that people used in their private lives to work, having a work version of Facebook made a lot of sense.

It’s also important to remember that nine years ago there was no clear winner in the business communications space. Slack was in its infancy and Microsoft Teams was still a year away. Salesforce had tried to enter this space with the launch of Chatter years earlier, recognizing that there was a need for this type of product, but it never gained much traction and most related apps have been closed for years.

Salesforce would eventually buy Slack, of course, for $28 billion, so I knew there was something there in this space. Despite having millions of subscribers, Facebook lost its chance in the business.

“In retrospect, this has to be considered a huge missed opportunity for Facebook; When it launched in 2016, no one foresaw the pandemic years where Teams and Zoom, etc. They would flourish, but due to lack of investment and lack of interest from senior management, Facebook Workplace never really had a fighting chance,” Pelz-Sharpe said.

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