Future of Work


Jochen Wegner, editor-in-chief of Zeit online, gets together with Stewart Butterfield, co-founder of flickr and last year's launched Slack.

Slack is a communication tool for teams, used primarily in the tech industry but spreading out to media and the creative industries. It brings together messages not only from human beings but also from external systems for example when someone tweets at your company or files a bug report. The advantage is that all communication is at one place and it becomes searchable.

A lot of people in the audience already uses Slack. The company was developed as a kind of spin-off of a massive multiplayer game company Butterfield has founded. The team had developed a message software for their team communication. While the game company didn't get much traction, the byproduct did. VC Marc Andreessen was quite impressed with Slack's active users' growth and tweeted "I have never seen viral enterprise app takeoff like this before -- all word of mouth."

What is the secret behind the success? Stewart says he will probably get in trouble with his PR team, but he has no clue. However, a lot depends on timing. And it's working nicely, the team is very capable and the design is good. Jochen adds a love for details and thinking differently, maybe ahead. He lists some of the features flickr introduced, for example they were the first to use Open API, they made tagging popular etc.

Slack has raised a lot of money. Will Slack try to provide a whole ecosystem like Microsoft in the 90s? Stewart says that's the goal. Today software is easier to use, it's cheaper, it's easier to deploy - everything is better than it was - with the exception that nothing works well together because the information of the customer is caught up in silos of different services.

Will there be a slack version for private use, too? It is possible, but unlikely in the short term. There's a huge advantage to have your private life neatly separated from your business communications unlike in your email box which usually collects very eclectic content.

Closing the talk, Jochen advises Stewart to please never sell Slack.

Mentioned in this live blog

Stewart butterfield bw
Stewart Butterfield
Co-Founder & CEO
San Francisco
Jochen wegner 70k
Jochen Wegner

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