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Slack is now the fastest-growing workplace software ever

Slack is now the fastest-growing workplace software ever


And it has $120 million in new funding to push it forward

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Slack has become a big enough deal that it almost makes you care about enterprise software. The company, which integrates a kind of sophisticated group chat with dozens of other software services that your company may already use, has spread like wildfire in the corporate world. Before February, no one had ever heard of Slack; seemingly overnight, it was being used in every business in tech.

Investors have noticed. Today Slack, which launched less than nine months ago, is announcing that it has raised $120 million, valuing it at $1.12 billion. It had previously raised $60 million. Some of Silicon Valley’s most prominent investors, including Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, Google Ventures, and Andreessen Horowitz, participated in this round.

slack for desktop full

There are now more than 30,000 teams using Slack, a number that has doubled in just the past six weeks. While you can use Slack for free, 73,000 people are already paying customers, either individually or through their businesses. (The paid version lets you integrate the service with others, so you can be pinged whenever someone mentions your company on Twitter, for example, or opens a support ticket in ZenDesk.) Every month Slack's projected annual revenue is growing by $1 million.

Still, even if you've used Slack, it can make you scratch your head. The fastest-growing enterprise software in history is ... a fancy chat room? Even Slack employees haven't always been sure why their product, which rose from the ashes of a failed video game, is growing so fast. They've settled on two explanations. One, the proliferation of messaging services means that your work communications are getting fragmented across an ever-growing number of places: email, Skype, Google apps and Hangouts, iMessage, and SMS, to name only a few of the most popular. Slack is a bid to bring everything back together, in a single place, with powerful search.

Slack can reduce the time you spend on other productivity-related tasks

The second thing is that Slack aspires to host the entire history of your corporate communications. Give people that kind of view into their organization, founder Stewart Butterfield says, and you see them sending fewer emails, hosting fewer stand-up meetings, and organizing fewer conference calls. The pitch for Slack is that it makes you more productive by reducing the amount of time you spend on other productivity-related tasks.

The big fundraising round means Slack is likely to stay independent for longer, Butterfield says, as there are few companies who will be able to afford it. (Butterfield previously co-founded Flickr, which sold to Yahoo.) It sends a message to the market that Slack is a serious business, with designs on reaching into America's biggest corporations. And it will help them hire better people, because money.

Comment with a poop

But what I really wanted to know from Butterfield, as a daily user of the product, was what's next on Slack's road map. Happily, Butterflied obliged. Message replies are coming, so that when you respond to someone in a Slack room, your conversations will be organized by conversation. And after receiving many requests to be able to "favorite" a message, Slack will soon let you comment on a message using any emoji you want — heart, thumbs up, dancing lady, or even a poop.

The company also plans to increase the number of other software services it integrates with from around 65 to 250; to make Slack easier for new users to understand; and to make Slack useful for large corporations. (Slack's chat rooms tend to get very noisy after a certain number of people are using it.) "Slack is great for 30 people," Butterfield says. "But we want to make it work for companies that have 50,000 people." First, though, we'd really like to see those emoji.