And the recent announcement of IBM’s deal with Slack, has caused us to wonder: have we underestimated Slack? And is Slack a company Microsoft can beat?
For those who are unaware about the war between these two US tech company, here’s the story:
Prior to 2013 when Slack was founded, workers of a company always had a hard time, when they needed to collaborate on something. In other words, for any collaboration to happen, people had to meet physically. However, physical meetings proved not so okay, and the need for an enterprise communication tool was conceived.
Stewart Butterfield, Eric Costello, Cal Henderson, and Serguei Mourachov are among the people who felt the need for such a technology. And not only did these guys feel the need, they’re also among the few who took actions to solve the problem.
The group of 4 started the development of the platform we now know as Slack, beating other similar products, to become a very popular tool.
Ever since this enterprise communication tool was released, it has positioned itself as one of the best tools available, in its category.
However, the war between the two tech giant (Slack and Microsoft) kind of started, when Microsoft showed interest in buying up Slack. The Windows OS owner, seemed to have been making plans to put forward an $8 billion deal for Slack. However, this deal didn’t take place, as there were news regarding Bill Gates being against the decision. Soon, news were no longer heard about the deal, and after Qi Lu left Microsoft, the company soon dropped the idea of buying up Slack.
But not only did Bill Gates oppose the buying of Slack, this billionaire also pushed the idea that some of its products which have quite similar usefulness as Slack, should be repositioned as technologies that would compete with Slack. And this is how Microsoft Teams was born, another enterprise communication tool. But this time, the tool is backed by a company having several billions of dollars to drive out competition.
It is quite clear that Microsoft thinks they are capable of claiming the no 1 spot from Slack. And the growth of Teams seemed to have even solidified that belief further. In July 2019, the company announced it had about 13 million active users. And only within 4 months after this announcement, it recorded a massive growth. The company claims its enterprise communication tool shot up from 13 million active users to about 20 million active users.
This sporadic growth of Microsoft not only drew more attention to the war between the two companies, it also showed how fierce the competition between the two is.
But despite Microsoft’s astonishing growth, it would be a very big mistake to assume Slack would be an easy company to battle. The company is still currently the no 1 enterprise communication tool, and it’s possible that wouldn’t even change.
There are three possible ways this competition could end. The first one is: Slack would maintain its dominance, and the Microsoft Teams project would struggle for the rest of its existence. And keep in mind that recently, IBM decided to officially choose Slack as its enterprise communication tool. A decision that would be bringing in an additional 350,000 users to the platform. In other words, with a very big company like IBM deciding to work with Slack, it is not impossible for Microsoft Teams to end up losing the war.
In short, the game might just play out the way Facebook and Google Plus played out. When Facebook became a thing, Google felt they could kick out Facebook, to become world’s no 1 social platform. But that assumption has now proven to be quite dumb, considering Google Plus is now dead. Facebook was underestimated, and Facebook proved its own goliath wrong. So it wouldn’t come as a surprise if Slack also ends up sending its own goliath to its grave as well.
Another possible scenario is that the two companies would remain big rivals. This is also a scenario we cannot ignore. Slack has been in this game for a very long time, they have an incredible team, nice user experience, and many other things that could make them remain in business. And also Microsoft is a company with several years of experience. In short, it is far from impossible to see this war last for the rest of the existence of the two companies.
The third scenario here is: having Microsoft beat Slack out of business. This scenario, just like the other two, cannot be ruled out. It would be a very big mistake for Slack to underestimate Microsoft’s deep pocket and power.
To conclude this article, IBM’s recent deal has proven Slack to be a company that should never be underestimated. But the future has the full answer, and we only have to sit down, then watch how it plays out.
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