There’s an argument raging among digerati right now whether Slack is a bona fide platform. One can’t argue, however, that Slack hasn’t become the central online workplace for more and more people, as its mission to make work more productive and more fun takes hold with more than two million people using it every day (roughly 25 percent of them on paid accounts).
The company’s announcement this week that it is launching a platform and funding it with both tools and money will make it that much easier for the company to lock in customers, since they will be able to interact with more and more apps from inside Slack, often via the rudimentary AI features of the service’s “bot.”
Founder and CEO Stewart Butterfield hinted at this strategy during a recent interview with NewCo’s John Battelle, when he said Slack isn’t inclined to develop more and more apps. More likely is that the company will focus on connecting Slack to more and more outside apps. “If we can do that across the many apps that you use,” he said, “then we’re in a great position to be part of your work experience forever.”
Most of the coverage of the platform launch has focused on the app store, but just as important is the sort-of venture fund that Slack is directing to nurture it. Half of the $80 million fund comes from Slack; the other half is being contributed by Slack’s existing investors: Accel, Andreessen Horowitz, Index Ventures, Kleiner Perkins, Spark Capital, and Social Capital. Microsoft achieved platform domination in the 1980s and 1990s by making it ridiculously easy to work in and alongside its flagship software; Slack is using the tools at its disposal to accelerate something similar.
Regardless of whether Slack really is a platform, it’s creating and expanding a place where more and more people actually want to get their work done.
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