Entrepreneurship & Innovation

The Email Killer

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One of the highly anticipated panels at DLD Berlin was the talk of Stewart Butterfield and Stefan Winners. The Co-Founder and CEO of Slack and the Member of the Executive Board of Hubert Burda Media discussed how the nature of work is changing. Butterfield has already built his second successful company. The serial entrepreneur and digital visionary made his DLD debut in 2005, as co-founder of the photo portal Flickr. Flickr revolutionized the world of photography on the internet and how users share their pictures with others. Slack has the potential to revolutionize the use of team collaboration tools and services and become the central work management tool. Slacks customer list already ranges from well-known startups like Buzzfeed, Pandora, Stripe and Airbnb to established giants like Adobe, Walmart, Comcast and PayPal. The messaging software is popular, but faces a growing number of competitive products from well-funded rivals including Microsoft with Microsoft Teams, Cisco with Spark, Google with Hangouts Chat, and Atlassian with Stride.

Butterfield admitted that this big competition can be daunting, especially considering the financial power behind their distribution. But nevertheless he believes Slack can compete: “I believe that in 10 years from now, Slack can be one of the top companies in the world.” No wonder he is self-assured: Just recently Slack confirmed that it has ranked in an additional $250 million Series G funding round led by SoftBank Vision Fund. That brings total funding to an impressive $841 million and valuation to $5.1 billion. Furthermore, they added support for French, German, and Spanish languages to what had been an English-only product. The new funding means Slack should be able to keep adding features—and marketing them—to customers worldwide. Germany is the second biggest market for Slack in Europe, worldwide the fifth. Butterfield explained how that was especially astonishing, considering that Slack has only been available in English, payed in US Dollar and with a credit card.

One of the big questions everyone was interested in: Is Butterfield planning to sell Slack? Only a few weeks after his first DLD talk in 2005, his then company Flickr was sold to Yahoo – reportedly for $35 million. This year, Butterfield shared, that only 10 months after the release of Flicker, the conversation with Yahoo already started. Stefan Winners asked if the big corporates had knocked on their door now: A direct answer remained open, but wasn’t denied either. Very persistently Winners wanted to know if there is a price tag for Slack. Butterfields respond: “I love making software. We are a clever team and work hard. I don’t have anything better to do the next 25 years and I really like doing this.”

Mentioned in this article

Stewart butterfield bw
Stewart Butterfield
Co-Founder & CEO
San Francisco