'Slack' it to me!
Slack is a cloud-based team collaboration tool co-founded by Stewart Butterfield, Eric Costello, Cal Henderson, and Serguei Mourachov. It started as an internal tool used in the development of Glitch, a now defunct online game.
Slack’s annual run rate is about $100M – not that much for a 650 employee company. Slack was valued at $3.8B when it raised $200M back in april 2016.
This growth is nicely documented and explained primarily by its business model, its rigorous focus on user feedback and creating a sticky ecosystem with third party apps. However, it does not explain the popularity, its coolness. Honestly, it is a team messaging app. Inspired by IRC (see below). We don’t see a whole lot of excitement about HipChat, or Yammer, or Facebook’s chat experience. But Slack is offered as a ‘benefit’ at the Silicon Valley elite. So what makes it so cool? We all know: “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck …”.
Slack is exactly like that, but then the other way around: Slack looks different, sounds different and Slack is fun. Very different indeed! So, let’s investigate this!
Slack looks different – and looks are everything
Slack uses a color scheme that feels more at home in a rock star game than an enterprise software app. Compare that to the different hues of blue of Hipchat, Yammer or Skype.
The quick brown fox jumps o|
Slack sounds different
Slack really goes out of its way to have playful copy on every opportunity. Some examples:
- “… we’ve summed them up for you in a lovely little list on our blog …”
- “Sending and reading messages in Slack is dead simple.”
- “Always get plenty of sleep, if you can.”
- “Please consider the environment before printing this Slack.”
Slack always talks directly at you, never in a third person. “Hi, how can I help you?”.
Slack is more fun!
The apps and bots make Slack fun (and super useful). For example, each time “drink” occurs in a message, a bot can message back “Don’t forget to pay for your drinks – the piggy is up there somewhere!”. Or the giphy slack app: just type /giphy whatever and a nice gif is sent. I often lose a day or two playing around with it. Even the name is fun: a productivity app with a name that means ‘not busy, moving slowly, sluggish’. The many integrations make Slack sticky and useful – the fun make people want to use it. A killer combo.