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Slack hits 8 million daily active users with 3 million paid users

As Slack looks to woo larger and larger companies with the prospect of a simpler workplace collaboration tool, the company said it has now hit 8 million daily active users. The company said it also has 3 million paid users. A darling in Silicon Valley, Slack was initially able to capitalize on pent-up demand for workplace communications tools that were much simpler and easy to use. Companies like Yammer, Microsoft, and others looked to remake internal communications in ways that looked more like consumer tools in the Web 2.0 era, but Slack came out with an approach that was initially just a slick chat and team communications tool. That helped it rocket to a $5.1 billion valuation and drive its initial adoption among smaller companies and startups. Slack in September said it had around 6 million daily active users, 50,000 teams and 2 million paid users, and around $200 million in annual recurring revenue. So it’s a pretty significant jump over the past nine months or so, though the company still has to break from the perception that it’s a tool that’s just good for startups and smaller companies. The larger enterprise deals are the ones that tend to drive larger contracts — and additional revenue — as it looks to build a robust business. More than half of Slack’s users are outside the U.S., a signal that it looks to continue to expand into new regions that may demand tools like Slack beyond just domestic markets. Slack has been trying to roll out additional tools to support those larger companies, rather than just operate as a chat tool that can get out of control when companies have thousands of employees. The company has invested heavily in machine learning tools to make it easier to search for answers that may already exist in some Slack channel or direct message. Slack also rolled out threads , a long-awaited feature that users often demanded though it wasn’t clear how that would exist in Slack’s simpler interface.

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The formula behind San Francisco’s startup success

Why has San Francisco’s startup scene generated so many hugely valuable companies over the past decade? That’s the question we asked over the past few weeks while analyzing San Francisco startup funding, exit, and unicorn creation data. After all, it’s not as if founders of Uber, Airbnb, Lyft, Dropbox and Twitter had to get office space within a couple of miles of each other. We hadn’t thought our data-centric approach would yield a clear recipe for success. San Francisco private and newly public unicorns are a diverse bunch,  numbering more than 30 , in areas ranging from ridesharing to online lending. Surely the path to billion-plus valuations would be equally varied. But surprisingly, many of their secrets to success seem formulaic. The most valuable San Francisco companies to arise in the era of the smartphone have a number of shared traits, including a willingness and ability to post massive, sustained losses; high-powered investors; and a preponderance of easy-to-explain business models. No, it’s not a recipe that’s likely replicable without talent, drive, connections and timing. But if you’ve got those ingredients, following the principles below might provide a good shot at unicorn status.

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Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield details approach to sustaining an inclusive workforce

In light of the tech industry’s last year of one sexual harassment scandal after another, Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield says the company has had active conversations about the issues. However, Slack has not made any specific policy changes at the company. While no overt cultural issues at Slack have hit the mainstream, Butterfield says he recognizes that Slack is not immune from them. “As we get bigger and we exist for longer, the greater the likelihood that the actual problems of the world will be present in Slack too,” Butterfield told TechCrunch. He added that he’s proud of what Slack has accomplished but that he also wants to be careful not to have Slack put up on a pedestal. “We exist in the actual world — if we all agree that this world has some systemic issues, and it’s sexist and it’s racist — that’s not going to stop when people walk into our office,” Butterfield told me. “I don’t mean there’s nothing we can do about it. There are things we can do about it, but people are coming in here with their own life experiences.” Part of that action is around continuing to release diversity reports, which Slack is doing for the third time today. Slack is still a predominantly white workplace, but the company has made some progress in the areas of global employment of women, women in technical and leadership roles and representation of black and Latinx people. gallery ids="1623321,1623323,1623318,1623319,1623322,1623320" Slack’s workforce is now: 44.7 percent female, up from 43.5 percent last year 12.5 percent underrepresented minorities, up from 11.5 percent last year 6 percent underrepresented employees in leadership positions 8.3 percent LGBTQ 1.4 percent identify as having a disability .85 percent identify as veterans. While Slack doesn’t break out intersectionality itself, a closer look at the EEO-1 report makes that possible. Slack says it didn’t break this out on its own due to the lack of statistically significant results

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April Underwood is now Slack’s chief product officer

Former Twitter product lead April Underwood is getting another promotion this morning, now rising to the role of chief product officer of what aims to be the dead-simple employee communications platform Slack, according to Fortune . Underwood previously served as director of product at Twitter, where she worked for five years before joining Slack as its head of platform. Shortly after that Underwood was promoted to the company’s VP of product, and will now serve as the company’s first chief product officer. These kinds of promotions imply some additional responsibility — especially as Slack looks to diversify and pitch itself as a more robust product than just a messenger — but also another point of maturation for Slack. The company hired its first chief financial officer, Allen Shim, in February this year . Slack is one of those companies that faces a tense push-and-pull as it looks to get into larger and larger enterprises, which all have niche needs. The company is a darling in Silicon Valley thanks to its very simple interface, but with companies with thousands (or, eventually, tens of thousands of employees) just a tool with groups and direct messages could easily become unwieldy. That’s why Slack has invested in a variety of tools, including rolling out threaded messaging a little more than a year ago . Slack is likely one of those companies that gets hundreds of feature requests a year for larger businesses that have niche use cases, but it still has to demonstrate that it’s a simple product without hitting feature creep status. Underwood getting more authority over that evolution (of which she was already a huge part, including the development of threaded messages) is another signal that the company is looking to tap her consumer background at Twitter to create some kind of middle ground between feeling like a satisfying consumer product while still operating as an enterprise tool. Slack is increasingly looking to apply machine learning to help employees get to answers right away, and it still has to take the same kind of care in rolling out new features that satisfy the needs of larger organizations without sacrificing that simplicity that made it a darling in the first place. Slack most recently hit a $5.1 billion valuation in a recent investment round, and said it had around 6 million daily active users in September last year. That might be small-ish compared to the size and scale of Twitter, but as something geared toward internal communications at companies, that level of engagement in the workplace is going to increasingly be a selling point for the company as it looks to grow into that valuation

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Spoke looks to create a simpler workplace requests management tool

When Jay Srinivasan’s last company got acquired by Google, he and his co-founders were ready to get going right away — but they couldn’t figure out how to get ramped up or where things were. That’s sometimes a refrain you’ll hear from employees of companies that are acquired, or any employees really, who suddenly have to get used to a new system of doing things. It can go all the way down to just getting a new laptop with the right software on it. And it’s a pain point that convinced Srinivasan and his co-founders Pratyus Patnaik and David Kaneda to start Spoke , a new tool for trying to solve those workplace management and request tickets — and finally getting your laptop ready so you can get to work. Spoke is launching for general availability to day, and the company says it has raised $28 million to date from investors like Accel, Greylock, and Felicis Ventures. “Some internal ticketing systems you can use are searchable — as you imagine it finds all the answers, the problem is when you have all that many people you get 10,000 results,” Srinivasan said. “There’s too much to look at. In a larger company, the breaking point tends to be that there are probably a bunch of relevant answers, but there’s no way to find the needle in the haystack. So I really wanted to figure stuff out from scratch.” With many companies switching to internal collaboration tools like Slack, the theory is that these kinds of requests should be made wherever the employee is. So part of Spoke is an actual bot that exists in Slack, looking to surface the right answers right away from a database of employee knowledge that’s built up over time. But Spoke’s aim, like many workplace tools that look to be simple, is to hide a lot of complex processes behind that chat window in terms of creating request tickets and other employee queries so they can pop in and pop out quickly enough

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Stride, Atlassian’s Slack competitor, hits general availability

Last September , Atlassian launched Stride , its take on a Slack-like real-time communications platform for text, audio and video chats, into beta. Six months later , Stride is now generally available to any and all teams that want to give it a try. While Atlassian is a bit cagey about providing exact user numbers, so the numbers it actually shared aren’t all the useful to gauge the service’s success. What the company was willing to say is that its users have now spent a quarter of a million hours in Stride’s Focus Mode, which is meant to allow worked to reclaim a bit of sanity in today’s notification-driven world by allowing you to turn off all incoming messages and notifications. As Atlassian’s head of communications products Steve Goldsmith told me, the company is happy with the state of Stride and that it’s growing quickly. Since the closed beta launch, Atlassian has added about 50 new features and improvements to the service that include better ways to organize chat lists, better search and a number of improvements to the service’s video meetings features. Indeed, it’s these video chat features that the team is maybe the most proud of. “Small impromptu meetings don’t just happen when you have to switch context,” Goldsmith told me but declined to give us any numbers for how much time users spend in these chats beyond that “it’s a lot.” Goldsmith also stressed that this is far from the final version of Stride. The team still has quite a roadmap of features that it wants to implement. But taking away the beta label, though, the company is signalling that it has worked out most of the kinks and that Stride is now ready for full enterprise deployments. About a month ago, the Stride team also opened up its API to outside developers. Goldsmith was pretty open about the fact that he’s very happy with the final result but that he would’ve liked to see that happen a bit earlier. Stride’s API is the first product that sites on top of Atlassian’s new API platform. That probably made building the API a bit harder, but Goldsmith noted that that now makes integrating with Stride easier for other Atlassian teams.

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To one-up Slack, Google invites workers to hangout, chat in “Hangouts Chat”

Enlarge / Google Hangouts Chat running on a laptop. (credit: Google) Slack, Stride, HipChat—workplace chat apps that integrate with various project management and collaboration services are all the rage. It's surprising, then, that Google hasn't jumped on board yet. Workers are using Google Hangouts in offices all over the world, but the company doesn't offer the kinds of features that Slack does. Now, Google has launched Hangouts Chat , its Slack competitor—sorry, "messaging platform built for teams." It's part of the G Suite at every pricing tier, though the features vary by plan. Announced last year , Hangouts Chat looks and behaves just like regular Hangouts, but it has several enterprise features. It integrates more deeply with various other productivity products in the G Suite-like Google Drive, but it also offers some features and integrations for popular third-party services like Salesforce and Trello, just like Slack does. Google says you can "schedule meetings, create tasks, or get updates from your team right within Chat." Google also promises that the service works without any plugins, and that includes the expanded Hangouts feature, Hangouts Meet, which went live a while ago. Hangouts Meet has a leg up over regular Hangouts in the form of tighter integration with Google Calendar and automatic inclusion of old-fashioned conference line call-in numbers. Below are images from the initial announcement of the service.

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Slack is the latest app to ditch the Apple Watch

Like Twitter, Amazon, and Google Maps before it, Slack is ditching its Apple Watch app. The team chat and collaboration platform for businesses quietly announced the news via an update to its iOS app. But, that doesn't mean Slack will disappear entir...

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