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An interview with Slack founder Stewart Butterfield on the company’s strategy for a successful launch (First Round Capital)

The biggest challenge was learning how to sell a product to teams, not individuals. “For most companies, the hard thing is making the product work well enough to convince a single person at a time to switch to it,” Butterfield says. Take Dropbox , for example: A person tries it on a couple of devices, likes it, and commits to spending a few bucks a month for it. “We have to convince a team, and no two teams are alike.”  From job functions to group sizes to whole companies, Slack’s teams run the gamut. But there was one thing Butterfield ran into pretty consistently. When it comes to selecting a team-collaboration tool, every member has a veto — multiplying the product's risk of rejection. “If one engineer at a startup tries Slack and says, ‘I hate it. I am not going to use this,’ that’s it for us. We won’t get evaluated.” Given this pattern, much of Slack’s beta period was spent minimizing that risk. “We created materials to explain Slack to individuals — what it was for, how it worked, what you’re supposed to do — but we also built resources for team administrators. We wanted to give them ammunition to help convince the team,” Butterfield says. Slack is blazing trails in a relatively new arena, so that ammunition was equal parts product training and market education. “Somewhere between 20 to 30% of our users — and this is just an estimate — come from some other centralized group-messaging system like HipChat, Campfire, or IRC,” Butterfield says. “When we asked the other 70 to 80% what they were using for internal communication, they said, ‘Nothing.’ But obviously they were using something.

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Microsoft readies new free version of its Power BI business intelligence service (Mary Jo Foley/ZDNet)

Summary: Microsoft is planning to introduce a free version of its Power BI business-intelligence tools/service, and will cut prices on its new, fully featured Pro version. Microsoft is teeing up a new free version of its Power BI set of business-intelligence tools for managing, visualizing and interacting with data, company officials said on January 27. When Microsoft hits general availability of its updated Power BI version, which is currently available to test for free , it will introduce a new free version of the service, which it will call plain-old Power BI. It also will continue to offer a more feature-rich version it has christened "Power BI Pro" for $9.99 per user per month -- which is 75 percent cheaper than the cost of the existing version of Power BI. (Microsoft officials are declining to say when they expect the new Power BI versions to be commercially available.) The free Power BI version has a data capacity limit of 1 GB/user; Pro will have a 10 GB/user limit. There are also differences between the two versions in their data refresh and collaboration capabilities, as outlined in the chart below: (For a larger version of this chart, go here .) The free Power BI version won't require an Office 365 subscription (it's a standalone service, Microsoft officials said) or even Excel. To use, customerssign up with an e-mail address -- no Microsoft Account required -- and access from a browser or Power BI client app. Microsoft officials also reconfirmed today that it will be introducing in the coming months new client versions of Power BI for iPhone, Android and Universal Windows (for phones, tablets and PCs). Microsoft made available in December a preview version of its Power BI app for iPad . Microsoft officials also reiterated plans for a number of the coming Power BI features the company announced in December 2014 , including: Dashboards : Power BI customers can now see all their data through a single pane of glass. Live Power BI dashboards show visualizations and key performance indicators (KPIs) from data that reside both on-premises and in the cloud. New visualizations : Combo charts, fill maps, gauges, tree maps and funnel charts give customers more ways to view their data in Power BI. Out-of-the-box connectors for SaaS services : These connectors help customers get started with Power BI more quickly. Supported services include Dynamics CRM Online and Dynamics Marketing, GitHub, Marketo, Salesforce, SendGrid and Zendesk. Live connectivity to SQL Server Analysis Services : With the new Power BI connector for SQL Server Analysis Services, users can create a secure connection to Analysis Services on-premises from Power BI in the cloud.

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Toshiba’s Chromebook 2 has a screen that’s to die for – Mashable

Mashable Toshiba's Chromebook 2 has a screen that's to die for Mashable Color quality and contrast are also excellent, so much so that I've watched a number of full movies on the Chromebook 2 and really loved the experience almost as much as watching on the iPad Air or Nvidia Shield Tablet. That's not just because of its ... and more »

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Handle: To-Dos + Email + Calendar (Productivity)

Handle: To-Dos + Email + Calendar 1.2.11 Device: iOS Universal Category: Productivity Price: Free, Version: 1.2.11 ( iTunes ) Description: Handle is the antidote to your information overload and fear of not getting things done. By combining your INBOX, TO-DO list and CALENDAR in ONE APP, Handle gives you the power to focus on the important things and the peace of mind to know that you’re on top of your life. *** Why Do You Need Handle? *** Your most important decision today — and every day for the rest of your life — is where you focus your attention next. Not all emails are equal, not every to-do is top priority, and sometimes there are just more important things to do in life. That’s why we made Handle. Deeply integrated with Google email and calendar, Handle lets you stay on top of everything that matters to you in one place, whether its an important email requiring action, a project-related task, a team meeting, or personal to-do like stopping by the dry cleaners after work. /// Supports Gmail ONLY /// Currently, Handle only supports Gmail for connecting your inbox. We’re working hard to add support for Exchange and other email services. Coming soon!! /// Cloud Sync requires Dropbox /// Syncing your to-dos between devices or your desktop is done via Dropbox to protect your privacy. A Dropbox account is required for syncing. *** Key Features *** To-Do Timeline -- Organize and prioritize everything in one place with your To-Dos Timeline

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Sprint targeting T-Mobile customers w/ $200 min. trade-in offer for switchers (Zac Hall/9to5Google)

Just one day after T-Mobile unveiled its Smartphone Equality program letting loyal customers avoid credit checks, Sprint has  announced a new promotion specifically targeting T-Mobile customers with an offer to make switching carriers easier. Sprint’s latest buyback and trade-in offer joins the carrier’s existing ‘Cut Your Bill in Half’ promo which encourages AT&T and Verizon customers to switch; T-Mobile was notably missing from that offer. Here’s how Sprint details the new promotion for T-Mobile customers: Starting today, Sprint will guarantee any T-Mobile subscriber at least $200 credit for a currently activated and working T-Mobile smartphone when switching between carriers. The offer requires T-Mobile customers to move their phone number over to Sprint and trade-in a T-Mobile smartphone to a Sprint store to qualify. Sprint also says switchers can combine the trade-in value with a contract buyout offer of up to $350 per line to cover the cost of switching carriers. The contract buyout offer come sin the form of a prepaid or reward card. Finally, Sprint says the current promotion for T-Mobile subscribers will run starting today through April 9th. While the promotion doesn’t match the Sprint program targeting AT&T and Verizon subscribers, it does make moving from T-Mobile to Sprint easier. Sprint, you may recall, pursued plans to acquire T-Mobile during 2014 but ultimately dropped its bid over regulatory concerns and replaced its CEO.

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Windows 10 for mobile wants to be the full PC experience on tiny screens – Mashable

Mashable Windows 10 for mobile wants to be the full PC experience on tiny screens Mashable Windows 10 is being touted as a cross-platform OS for PC, tablet and, of course, mobile . The latest developments for Windows Phone and small tablets are simply being called "Windows 10" to highlight that unity, and Microsoft demoed the rough build for ... Project Spartan will be Windows 10 official web browser FanSided all 2,307 news articles »

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