Slack Exec Says New Workflow Builder Helps Users 'Focus on the Job'

October 15, 2019

Slack, the popular workplace messaging platform, unveiled on Tuesday a new Workflow Builder feature that allows users to automate routine processes by themselves. The reveal came just days after the company announced it had exceeded 12 million daily active users.

"What we are seeing is increased usage, not just for communication, but also for integration of software tools and workflows that drive productivity," said Brian Elliott, Slack's vice president and general manager of platform. "[Workflow Builder] helps people focus on the job they need to do every day."

Since its founding in 2014, Slack ー officially Slack Technologies, Inc. ー has grown to be used in over 150 countries by leading companies such as Starbucks, Panasonic, and the BBC. The messaging platform, which has free and paid subscription plans, is now used by 65 Fortune 100 companies.

The 12 million daily active users milestone was in line with the platform's steady and steep growth but fell short of beating the user base of Microsoft Teams, one of the platform's key competitors.

Elliott added that Slack is proud to compete in the workplace communications sector, which has burgeoned in recent years as offices move away from traditional tools like email. Microsoft Teams, for instance, reported in July that its platform exceeded 13 million daily active users. Users of Teams, which is bundled in the Microsoft 365 package, include a wide range of organizations, from the Belgian Federal Police to General Electric to Emirates airline.

"At the center of Microsoft 365 is Microsoft Teams, the hub for teamwork that combines chat, video meetings, calling, and files into a single, integrated app," Jared Spataro, Microsoft's corporate vice president for Microsoft 365, said in a statement.

Elliott claimed, however, that 70 percent of Slack's top 50 paying customers have Microsoft 365 and also use Slack.

Slack's user milestone and software update also comes just months after the company went public on the New York Stock Exchange. Under the apt ticker WORK, the company took an alternative route to market in June, directly listing its shares as opposed to a traditional initial public offering. The approach meant that Slack did not issue new shares or raise additional capital, instead, it simply allowed existing shareholders to sell their stock to public investors. The last major company to complete a direct listing was Spotify ($SPOT), which went public on April 2018.

Slack's shares were up slightly last week on news of increased users, but have overall struggled to grow. The stock has been down roughly 28 percent over the last three months. Share prices plunged early last month after Slack reported a loss of $363.7 million in the second quarter this year. The loss was primarily from costs associated with Slack's direct listing but was a staggering jump from the $33 million loss the year prior. In the release, Slack also said it expects a higher than expected loss per share in the current quarter.

Yet, Elliott said that Slack is encouraged not only by the increasing daily user count but also the high levels of engagement. A company survey found that Slack users spend basically their entire workday connected to the platform and spend roughly 90 minutes actively using Slack.

"What we are most proud of is that fact that people actually use Slack," Elliott said. "They engage in it deeply."

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