Within 8 months of being launched, Slack, a cloud-based team collaboration tool, achieved a huge valuation of $1 billion dollars, and it wasn’t long before tech giants Microsoft got a whiff of the rich tasting pie and fancied a piece.
And now, the multi-billion-dollar corporation, owned by Bill Gates, has released their own workplace chat tool called ‘Teams’. With Skype integration, allowing online video calls between various members of the team, Microsoft is really going for number one spot in the industry.
However, Slack isn’t sweating about this. They aren’t getting uncomfortable about the thought of Microsoft pushing them out of the game. Anything but.
There is a striking resemblance between Slacks reaction to the news and Apple’s response to IBM joining the computer revolution back in 1981.
A full page, open letter in a major world newspaper is the way that both Apple and Slack have approached the news of a new major competitor.
“That feeling when you think “we should buy a full page in the Times and publish an open letter,” and then you do.” These are the words of Stewart Butterfield, co-founder of Slack. The letter, posted on a full page in the New York Times, has a strong scent of sarcasm about it, and you definitely get the feeling that Slack are not going to roll over and die, they are here for the long run.
Wow. Big news! Congratulations on today’s announcements. We’re genuinely excited to have some competition.”
Slack clearly aren’t phased, and they know they are big dogs that can stand their ground. They ‘genuinely’ believe that.
The rest of the letter, in which they go on to tell Microsoft how to be the best, further emphasizes this. Cocky? Arrogant? No, they just know exactly what they are talking about, and their current valuation and the amount of users they have backs this up.
“First, and most importantly, it’s not the features that matter.” Okay… please Slack, do tell me more.
“You’re not going to create something people really love by making a big list of Slack’s features and simply checking those boxes. The revolution that has led to millions of people flocking to Slack has been, and continues to be, driven by something much deeper.” Something much deeper than copying your biggest rivals? What on earth could that be?
Well, in the open letter, it says that the key element of creating such a popular, trendy tool was love. Slack said, “we love our work, and when we say our mission is to make people’s working lives simpler, more pleasant, and more productive, we’re not simply mouthing the words.”
They carried on by saying, “If you want customers to switch to your product, you’re going to have to match our commitment to their success and take the same amount of delight in their happiness.”
A final quote from Inc. Magazine’s 2015 company of the year – “Slack is here to stay, and we’re just getting started.”
So, does this mean there is more to come? Well, from Microsoft, yes. Slack? Many people are not sure, and are using former music app Rdio as an example.
Rdio did exactly what Slack have now done. A startup company with a great idea and a fantastic piece of software that was joined by a huge business in the industry and got cocky about it and showed off.
When IBM joined the computing world back in ’81, Apple released an open letter titled “Welcome, IBM. Seriously”, and ended the letter with “Welcome to the task.” So, when the Steve Jobs-founded company announced the arrival of Apple Music in June 2015, Rdio, one of the companies in the industry at the time, sent them this note on Twitter:
A similar arrogance to Slack, Rdio seemed to be getting too big for their boots. And, well, it backfired. Big time. After Apple released their own music app, The amount of users Rdio had rapidly decreased, especially with Spotify already flying high. In November 2015, after putting a lot of love into its product, just like Slack do, it died.
I’m not saying that Slack will go out of business with the arrival of Microsoft, but I just don’t think they should get too carried away. With the funds available to Microsoft, anything can happen.
To read Slacks open letter in full, head over to https://slackhq.com/dear-microsoft-8d20965d2849#.w05qu0hwz.