Why do Businesses Focus on Community?

Figure 1: Blueprint of Acquisition Strategy

Since 2012, there are 3 acquisitions that attracts our attention: Adobe acquired Behance. And Microsoft acquired LinkedIn and GitHub. It is interesting to note that those three are like a community rather than a business. Why do businesses focus on community? To access more people or clients? We believe the answer is more than that.

In This Issue

We begin with the real community as near perfect model. What we mean by real is the member meet regularly and physically.

Harley-Davidson: Hug and Hog
If You Never Have Owned One, You Will Never Understand. Intimate

Harley – not Quinn – Davidson (HOG), is one of the classical and maybe the best examples of how community help business grow. Far before the tech enthusiast talked about “User Experience”, The Harley-Davidson Community has enjoyed it.

Once become a member, you enter the global brotherhood – and when you see a dark leather jacket, helmet, and of course the bike itself – you feel respect and chemistry – in any road, in any city around the world.

This community hangs out together, rides their lads (they call their bike “their love”). Nothing more intimate than getting together passing an unknown road, feeling the wind, eat together for days. This is how relationships bond. This is not about motorcycles. It is about the lifestyle, activities, and ethos of the brand. People buy Harley-Davidson not by seeing the bike. But by hearing the roar, in the heart. Community makes it happen.

To recap, here are how the community helped Harley-Davidson:

  1. The community attracts people with similar interests. When a group of (grown) men rides their bikes, touring around the country, another man with the same bike obsession is tempted to join. And as the new member joins, the community is growing. It means more sales for Harley-Davidson.
  2. A member within the community shares their experience and their problem. When a man from Kentucky faces an ignition issue in his Electra Glide, the community hear and answer. If done properly, Harley-Davidson could exploit this as free quality control and make a quicker response and maybe a better product in the future.
  3. Creating fan base. Fan base helps a product from critics and protects its reputation. No man allows others to bully his lads.

Harley-Davidson community is the purest (and most primitive) answer to the question of Why do Businesses Focus on Community? The group of people attracts new members and in the end, come to the dealer to buy the bike. How do the next three (Behance, LinkedIn, GitHub) replicate the Harley-Davidson community?

LinkedIn: Career Mode
Why do Businesses Focus on Community? The Network Effect

Moving away from the “hang out” community to the more serious one. LinkedIn is a group of professionals. It connects the company that seeks the most suited candidate for its vacant and the job seeker searches for the dream job. Through LinkedIn, companies have access to more professionals ready to work, and the jobseeker gets more opportunities to get found by the employers. All are free, and you just need a few bucks to get more premium benefits like contacting people which not within your network. This means a lot for marketers, sellers, and recruiters.

This model is similar to Facebook and of course, shares the same economic moat characteristics. It is a network effect, once a new member (whether company or individual) join, the whole system gets more advantage, making LinkedIn attractive to the rest.

A bunch of professionals is the perfect place to offer you products if you are the developer of office-related and productivity software. So LinkedIn is the perfect target for Microsoft with its 365 services. Let alone the fact that before Microsoft’s step, LinkedIn has acquired Lynda. A company that focuses on high-quality courses and training programs.

It makes us think that it should be not merely about getting more customers when you have more people in contact – especially when you pay an astronomic 26 Billion price tag. It should be much more of this in the hand of Microsoft, a company with the ambition to become a one-stop professional platform.

Microsoft – LinkedIn duo should be brilliant. A company could use Microsoft services like server, 365, Team, and periodically hire the employee through LinkedIn. The company also could integrate it with courses from Lynda. If Microsoft could bundle it into a single service, it would be great. For LinkedIn, with Microsoft standing behind, it could cut the cloud services cost, making the profit thicker.

Unfortunately, The execution itself is another story. For a company that has pride in its office software, cloud, and technology, it is embarrassing to see LinkedIn like that. The User Interface is poor, the integration is not happening, For Microsoft, it is simply a portal to access professional communities, so the Redmond based could offer its services. We expect more.

Figure 2. What Should Microsoft Do?

Behance: Cloud and Community
Why Do Businesses Focus on Community? The Better Workplace, the Better Experience

Things get more specific, if LinkedIn is Facebook for professionals, then Behance is LinkedIn for graphic and art designers. With regard to all Adobe resources, we believe that the Photoshop creator execute Behance acquisition better than Microsoft handled LinkedIn. For instance, Behance allows Patreon business model for its member (Read: More money for Adobe). Rollback, The acquisition of Behance is also part of its strategy of moving from a one-time purchase business model to a subscription model.

Behance itself is a place you put your creative work. It could be a photo, typography, vector, poster design, or any graphic design works. Adobe’s acquisition of Behance is the same logic with Microsoft – LinkedIn. But, with prestigious names like Rhode Island School of Design, and The Smithsonian National Design Awards, Behance is surely more attractive for designers than Microsoft LinkedIn for professionals.

Apart from immediate impact, the acquisition of Behance also strengthens the Adobe brand as a top designer platform. The cloud services for Graphic designers have their own community. It looks excellent.

This. Make us doubt about all Microsoft acquisitions. Why all of this company take over end with underperforming and underdeveloped.

Follow the Developer
Why Do Businesses Focus on Community? The Better Resources.

Still from Microsoft. In his beginning tenure, Satya Nadella’s instruction is clear. Go wherever the developer goes. Adopting mobile-first, cloud-first, The Indian American fulfills his words, In 2018, Microsoft acquired the largest community of developers – GitHub. The logic behind this is the same as the LinkedIn acquisition.

You’re the software developer, thus it is mandatory to acquire a developer community.

GitHub simply is Hub for Git.

Git itself is an account. Like your Facebook account, Twitter account, Instagram. GitHub is a platform you put and share your Git. Unlike Facebook or Instagram that share images or posts, in GitHub, you share your code.

And unlike Facebook or Instagram, it much more powerful resource.

GitHub allows the developer to share and make collaborative work with regard to their code. GitHub allows developers to make some projects.

Imagine this.

Tony Stark is in Tehran and needs some program to launch the missile. He can’t do it all alone, so he contacts Bruce Banner in New York. Both write some program with each specific task, Stark responsible for the detonator while Banner focuses on the destination of the missile. The y have their own simulation, so it will not be deployed if the code isn’t perfect yet. Stark could take Banner’s work, attach it to his simulation, launch it, if failed, Stark fixes his source code. Same with a banner. GitHub helps this process as a platform.

GitHub’s strength is selling the code to individual and small team markets. With GitHub and LinkedIn in its hand, Microsoft should be all the resources to build the most integrated professional solution.

Several Key Points
Why Do Businesses Focus on Community? Mapping The Difference.

Building The Platform is Reason Why Do Businesses Focus on Community
Figure 3. Reason Behind Community Acquisition: Building The Platform

Before making some conclusion, here are a recap of the difference and similarities.:

Real-World ExperienceYes
Fan base Yes Yes
Enhance Workplace Yes Yes
Integration score
(higher is better)

Now several key points:

  1. The community could be growing at a rapid pace due to its freemium business model. This means, a free member gets a core feature, but the premium user gets the more complete package. It is really important that the acquirer (Adobe and Microsoft) not change this model.
  2. Network effect plays a role as an attractor, once the community is big and bigger, the switching cost kicks in. It will be so big that members can switch to another service.
  3. Both Adobe and Microsoft could play with its card, for instance, monetize their network community through ads like Facebook. Or integrate much more with its core services, for instance, LinkedIn – Github – OneDrive.
  4. It is interesting to note that LinkedIn, Github, Behance need minimal treatment, unlike the Harley-Davidson community. No Hang Out, No touring, it is just efficient.