Slack must be among the most successful side projects of startup history. It was an internal tool for the development of a game called Glitch, which glitched. They pivoted.
The name is playful and ironic. It also appears to be an acronym: “Searchable Log of All Conversation and Knowledge.” Google, but for your business.
Slack zoomed past hipchat and other internal collaboration tools. It was the toast of 2014-5. I spoke to one investor then about Slack’s valuation and he said Microsoft has to buy it, like they did Yammer, to defend the Sharepoint franchise. Slack appears to have zoomed past that to profitability on its own. Yammer at its essence was asynchronous Slack, a “business” Facebook. It is by far the easiest service to integrate other business data.
TriplePoint had an abortive run on Slack when it was first out, but we hoped to centralize on Asana the task management system. The two were at odds. People resisted Asana, they loved Slack. We’ve been back on it for three years now.
Slack used to brag they never marketed or advertised. That’s changed as they move down the technology adoption curve and try to cross the chasm.
Their first messages centered around replacing the easy whipping boy, email. Be more productive with Slack:
They had a charming, idealistic ad in 2016, a paean to diverse intellects coming together to work. They see a problem, and organically solve it together, eschewing the normal enterprise software lingo like “speed to market”:
They’ve stopped bothering. Here is an ad I saw in today’s Wall Street Journal:
It’s weird to see an ad show why you shouldn’t buy a product. Its speed and synchronicity encourages whimsy over work. No one request is a huge distraction, but its death by a thousand cuts. It is the handmaiden to a particular type of culture, where one frontline, ahem “Dev” distracts and bothers an in house administrative person who in turn sends back a pretty traditional document.
The only justice is if “Dev” gets besieged with equally stupid interruptions/requests he’s expected thanks to the synchronicity of Slack to respond to in one minute.
The real response usually isn’t one minute – and if it is, there’s a good question: didn’t HR have anything better to do? While he nervously awaits how the cutie from HR he’s flirting with (the only resumed real reason one would send such a stupid question, and a sign Slack contributes to a lack of judgement) writes back, and normally she carefully crafts a reply. He watches “Anna is typing” for three minutes before she replies, and meanwhile Anna is slacking someone else in the department “that dip Dev is flirting with me again” who also gets distracted. At least five or more people’s mornings are shot. (See the icon with “4” on it which is the number of people that found an icon with with to communicate visual approval.)
Then, since he couldn’t find a donut emoji, which is what all 4 people who liked Anna’s post, Dev sends a giphy of /donut, which culturally demands a giphy donut reply and…the afternoon is at risk too. They’ll be off uploading donut emojis.
Slack is the apogee of multitasking. Multitasking doesn’t work. It might be better than email, which is even more distracting. I wonder if we should get rid of it at TriplePoint. For Woovit, it is harder, with everyone being a “distributed team.” Does Slack increase the cost of information transference within the firm versus outside of it?
Or do most people just have bullshit jobs and Slack eases the pain, making them think they’re working?