I was first introduced to Slack during my internship this past summer at a very small startup that used Gmail as their email client of choice; an already significant step-up from my previous Outlook experiences. A few weeks into the summer, during our weekly team call, one of our founders mentioned that a number of his Remote Year colleagues have been using Slack to stay in touch with their coworkers based in far-flung places around the world. We decided to give it a try and make a concerted effort to use Slack for our interoffice communications for a week. With our headquarters in New York, a few team members in San Francisco, and our founder working in a new city every month, it seemed like we could benefit greatly.
After two days of playfully chiding each other that this email or that Google chat message should be redirected to Slack, we were all fully hooked and couldn’t imagine going back. It quickly became apparent why Slack has taken off as quickly as it has across a host of industries reaching (as of June, 2015) 1.1M active users with nearly 30% of those contributing to their $25M annual recurring revenue since its launch in 2013. Their latest $160M funding round in April brought their valuation to a soaring $2.8B. Of the many reasons why Slack is quickly gaining ground on traditional email and winning against other office communication tools, three stand out as key.
First, Slack is exceedingly company-friendly and easy to trial. In just a few minutes, you can set up a free account for yourself and an unlimited number of coworkers. If you like what you see, you can upgrade for $8/month per user to get robust search functionality and access to a panoply of integrations. For a total of $15/month per user, your support and uptime guarantees are increased. Additionally, unlike Salesforce and many other SaaS offerings, you only pay for active users, so you no longer have unused licenses burning cash while collecting dust.
Second, Slack is quickly establishing itself as a nexus for managing productivity tools across the organization. With over 80 established app connections available at the click of an “Add to Slack” button, users can funnel notifications and data from a host of tools across departments into the single, easy-to-use, Slack environment. Managing your storage, development, support, marketing, and numerous other functions from a single app makes Slack exceedingly useful and sticky.
Finally, and most importantly, Slack truly enhances the free and easy flow of communication across an organization of any size or type. It’s so easy to lose track of important information in the overwhelming flood of unnecessary and/or meandering threads that leave us desensitized to notifications and buried in unread emails. The powerful search capabilities in Slack allow you to quickly find the pertinent information you’re looking for. Additionally, the ability to easily create, subscribe to, and opt-out from channels or topics allows you to self-select what you spend your time on and stay informed where your attention is needed. Furthermore, having a free-flow of information within a company allows for greater communication across the organization and helps level the playing-field for employees working remotely.
The ability to pop in and out of office conversations gives you the benefits everyone looked for in an open office floor plan without the added joy of overhearing every phone call on your floor or smelling your cube-mate’s lunch. While Slack may not be the immediate end of email people have been forecasting for years, if we can get a few more walls and a few less decibels around the office, I’ll call it a big win.