who-owns-slack

Who Owns Slack?

In a $27.7 billion deal in 2021, Salesforce’s finalized the acquisition of Slack, which was integrated into Salesforce. Today Slack is still a product mostly independently managed by Salesforce, which incorporated some of its features within its platform. Salesforce is primarily owned by entrepreneur Marc Benioff.

AspectDescriptionAnalysisExamples
Products and ServicesSlack Technologies, Inc. offers a messaging and collaboration platform known as Slack. The core offering is the Slack app, available on desktop and mobile devices, which enables teams and organizations to communicate, collaborate, and share information in real-time through channels and direct messages. Slack also provides various integrations and third-party apps through the Slack App Directory to extend functionality. Additionally, the company offers premium plans, including Slack Plus and Slack Enterprise Grid, with advanced features and security options.Slack’s primary product, the Slack app, serves as a central hub for team communication and collaboration. Integrations and third-party apps enhance functionality and customization. Premium plans cater to organizations with specific needs, offering advanced features and security.Slack app (desktop and mobile), channels and direct messages, integrations and third-party apps (Slack App Directory), premium plans (Slack Plus, Slack Enterprise Grid), advanced features, security options.
Revenue StreamsSlack generates revenue primarily through subscription fees for its premium plans, including Slack Plus and Slack Enterprise Grid. These plans offer advanced features, increased storage, and enhanced security options. Additionally, the company earns income from the Slack App Directory through partnerships and integration fees.Subscription fees from premium plans provide a significant source of income, especially from businesses and organizations. The Slack App Directory generates revenue through integration fees and partnership arrangements.Revenue from subscription fees (e.g., Slack Plus, Slack Enterprise Grid), income from the Slack App Directory (e.g., integration fees, partnership arrangements).
Customer SegmentsSlack serves a diverse customer base, primarily consisting of businesses, organizations, teams, and professionals seeking improved communication and collaboration tools. The platform appeals to a wide range of industries and sectors, from tech companies to healthcare and education.Slack’s target demographic encompasses businesses, organizations, teams, and professionals seeking efficient communication and collaboration solutions. The platform’s flexibility caters to diverse industries, including tech, healthcare, education, and more.Businesses, organizations, teams, professionals, users seeking improved communication and collaboration tools, diverse industries and sectors.
Distribution ChannelsSlack distributes its products and services primarily through its website, where customers can sign up for subscriptions and access resources. The company also utilizes mobile app stores for app distribution. Additionally, Slack may partner with third-party platforms for integrations and cross-promotions.The website is the central distribution channel, where customers can sign up for subscriptions and access resources. Mobile app stores enable easy access to the Slack app. Partnerships with third-party platforms extend market reach and integration options.Distribution through the Slack website (slack.com) for subscription sign-ups and resources, app distribution through mobile app stores (e.g., Apple App Store, Google Play Store), partnerships with third-party platforms for integrations and cross-promotions.
Key PartnershipsSlack collaborates with various technology companies and software providers to offer integrations through the Slack App Directory. The company may also partner with third-party platforms and developers to create and promote customized solutions. Additionally, Slack forms strategic alliances with businesses and organizations for enterprise-wide adoption.Collaborations with technology companies enrich the Slack ecosystem with integrations. Partnerships with third-party platforms and developers offer customization options. Strategic alliances with businesses and organizations drive enterprise-wide adoption.Collaborations with technology companies (e.g., Google, Microsoft) for integrations, partnerships with third-party platforms (e.g., Salesforce, Atlassian), developers for customized solutions, strategic alliances with businesses and organizations for enterprise-wide adoption.
Key ResourcesSlack’s key resources include its messaging and collaboration platform, the Slack app, a vast user base of businesses and teams, a network of third-party integrations and apps in the Slack App Directory, a global user community, brand recognition, a commitment to user-friendly design, and a focus on security and data privacy.The messaging and collaboration platform is the core resource, facilitating efficient team communication. The Slack app provides user access and convenience. A vast user base ensures platform activity. Third-party integrations and apps enhance functionality. A global user community fosters engagement. Brand recognition builds trust. User-friendly design promotes usability. A focus on security and data privacy is essential.Messaging and collaboration platform, Slack app, vast user base of businesses and teams, third-party integrations and apps in the Slack App Directory, global user community, brand recognition, user-friendly design, focus on security and data privacy.
Cost StructureSlack incurs costs in platform maintenance and development, research and development efforts for new features, marketing and advertising campaigns, employee salaries (including engineers and developers), customer support operations, and investments in security and data privacy measures.Platform maintenance and development costs ensure functionality and improvements. Research and development expenses drive innovation and feature development. Marketing and advertising campaigns promote user engagement. Employee salaries, especially for engineers and developers, are a significant expense. Customer support operations are essential for user assistance. Investments in security and data privacy measures require resources.Costs related to platform maintenance and development, research and development of new features, marketing and advertising campaigns (e.g., Slack marketing efforts), employee salaries (e.g., engineers, developers), customer support operations, investments in security and data privacy measures.
Competitive AdvantageSlack’s competitive advantage lies in its user-friendly messaging and collaboration platform, a vast network of third-party integrations, customization options, a global user community, a commitment to security and data privacy, and a focus on user experience. The platform’s ease of use and flexibility make it a popular choice for teams and organizations.A user-friendly platform simplifies communication and collaboration. A vast network of third-party integrations enhances functionality. Customization options cater to unique needs. A global user community fosters engagement. A commitment to security and data privacy builds trust. A focus on user experience promotes usability.Slack’s user-friendly messaging and collaboration platform, a vast network of third-party integrations, customization options, a global user community, a commitment to security and data privacy, focus on user experience.
Value PropositionSlack offers businesses, organizations, teams, and professionals a streamlined and user-friendly platform for real-time communication and collaboration. The platform provides efficient messaging, channels for team discussions, integration with third-party apps, customization, and a focus on security and data privacy.Slack’s value proposition centers on simplifying team communication and collaboration. The platform offers efficient messaging, organized channels, extensive integrations, customization options, and a commitment to security. Users benefit from streamlined communication and enhanced productivity.A streamlined and user-friendly platform for real-time communication and collaboration, efficient messaging, organized channels, integration with third-party apps, customization, a focus on security and data privacy.

Background

Slack is a popular messaging and collaboration platform that is widely used by organizational teams around the world. The platform was developed by Slack Technologies, a software company that was founded in Vancouver, Canada, in 2009 by Stewart Butterfield. 

In this article, we’ll discuss Slack’s history and some of its key moments.

Flickr and Tiny Speck

Many years before Slack existed, in 2002, Butterfield co-founded the Vancouver-based company Ludicorp.

The impetus for the company’s establishment was a massively multiplayer online (MMO) game called Game Neverending, but the venture was later shelved for a more feasible project called Flickr.

When Flickr was acquired by Yahoo in 2005, Butterfield decided to make another attempt at developing a game.

He later founded Tiny Speck in 2009 with Flickr chief software architect Cal Henderson and fellow former Flickr employees Serguei Mourachov and Eric Costello.

No one knew what Tiny Speck did for a while, but after months of speculation, the social MMO game Glitch was launched on September 27, 2011.

By 2012, however, it became apparent that Glitch would join Game Neverending on the scrap heap. 

Slack emerges

According to Slack product architect Johnny Rodgers, Butterfield remarked that “If we keep going as we are, we’ll burn through the rest of our money in a few months and be left with nothing to show for it. But if we stop now, we can use that money to build something else.

That “something else” would be Slack, which was based on an internal communication tool Butterfield had already created for the team at Tiny Speck.

Slack, an acronym for “Searchable Log of All Communication and Knowledge”, underwent beta testing in 2013 and was made available to the public in February 2014.

Early success

Slack was an instant success because of Tiny Speck’s expertise in the gaming industry.

Butterfield and his compatriots already knew how to enhance the gameplay experience and make repetitive tasks more interesting, and this talent easily transferred to workplace communication.

Two factors made Slack irresistible to customers:

  1. Transparency – to see what others were working on, teams used to have to get up and walk over to a colleague in another department. Slack increased transparency across teams and departments and offered a concrete record of all communication. 
  2. Centralization – Slack managed to centralize communications while also insulating users from distraction. Rather than share a file on Dropbox or send an email in Outlook, for example, users were suddenly able to perform tasks in one interface and avoid switching between apps. 

By November 2014, 30,000 teams were using Slack with 73,000 subscriptions to the platform’s premium tier.

This was soon followed by a $120 million Series B funding round which valued the company at $1.2 billion and involved Google Ventures and Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers. 

Growth and Salesforce acquisition

Salesforce experienced tremendous growth over the next few years.

The platform surpassed 500,000 daily active users in January 2015 before reaching 5 million daily active users in November of the following year

The number of daily active users reached 12 million at the start of the pandemic before the company was acquired by Salesforce on December 1, 2020, for $27.7 billion

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff was unequivocal in his support of the deal:

This is a match made in heaven. Together, Salesforce and Slack will shape the  future of enterprise software and transform the way everyone works in the all-digital, work-from-anywhere world.

Slack’s story up to these days

Stewart Butterfield is a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of the photo-sharing website Flickr.

He went through the founding of several companies, in particular, when he founded Glitch (an online game). 

When he was running Tiny Spek, which comprised a set of companies, Butterfield and his team needed a communication system to handle the teams within his organizations.

That tool was developed in-house, and it eventually became Slack.  

When Slack launched back in 2013, more and more companies signed up until its growth kept compounding. Where did this opportunity come from?

The timing was right!

Butterfield said in an interview for CNET:

“In the last 15 years, the Microsoft hegemony and Office and Windows worship has broken down, and as a result, we’ve gotten a lot of new and, in most cases, better tools…But that means information is scattered across a bunch of different tools and there’s no one search tool that you can go through to search across all of this.”

From that stage, Slack kept inviting larger and larger groups of companies.

By 2021, it was harder and harder for Slack to compete against Microsoft’s aggressive strategy of bundling Teams into its suite of productivity tools.

That prompted Slack to write a whole advert to prompt Microsoft about it.

Yet, by 2021, it became clear to Slack that to be able to compete with Microsoft’s aggressive bundling strategy, it needed to become part of a larger group.

From there, the acquisition from Salesforce for over $27 billion.

Thus, Slack is now part of Salesforce’s software empire.

salesforce-acquisitions
Salesforce was founded in 1999 by Marc Benioff, Frank Dominguez, Dave Moellenhoff, and Parker Harris. In a relatively short time, the corporate powerhouse of enterprise software has made numerous acquisitions as part of its broader growth strategy to become a SaaS giant!

While Slack had been managed primarily as an independent brand within Salesforce.

By the end of 2022, as Benioff went back to lead Salesforce and push more integrations of independent products, like Slack, within the company’s strategy, former Slack’s CEO and founder left the company!

In the meantime, Slack generated $1.5 billion in revenue by early 2023, signaling the incredible potential of the company.

And yet, the need for Salesforce to integrate more and more Slack into the company’s strategy.

slack-revenue
Slack is now part of Salesforce’s family, acquired in 2021 for $27.7 billion. When the company got acquired, it generated, by early 2022, a yearly net revenue of $1.1 billion. As Slack has been integrated into Salesforce, post-acquisition, the company generated $1.5 billion in revenue yearly as of January 2023.

Key takeaways:

  • Slack is a popular messaging and collaboration platform that is widely used by organizational teams around the world. The platform was developed by Slack Technologies, a software company that was founded in 2009 by Stewart Butterfield. 
  • Slack was a success because of Tiny Speck’s expertise in the gaming industry. Butterfield and his compatriots already knew how to enhance the gameplay experience and make repetitive tasks more interesting. Later, the platform came to be loved by customers for its transparency and centralization.
  • Salesforce experienced tremendous growth between 2015 and 2016 in particular. The number of daily active users reached 12 million at the start of the pandemic before the company was acquired by Salesforce on December 1, 2020.

Key Highlights

  • Background and Early Ventures:
    • Stewart Butterfield’s involvement with Ludicorp and the creation of Flickr.
    • Transition to Tiny Speck and development of Glitch, a social MMO game.
  • Emergence of Slack:
    • Butterfield’s development of an internal communication tool within Tiny Speck.
    • Launch of Slack, an acronym for “Searchable Log of All Communication and Knowledge,” in February 2014.
  • Early Success and Features:
    • Success of Slack due to gaming industry expertise, enhancing communication features.
    • Transparency and centralization as key factors driving adoption.
  • Rapid Growth and Funding:
    • Rapid adoption with 30,000 teams and 73,000 premium subscriptions by November 2014.
    • $120 million Series B funding round valuing the company at $1.2 billion.
  • Salesforce Acquisition:
    • Salesforce’s acquisition of Slack for $27.7 billion on December 1, 2020.
    • Aim to reshape enterprise software and adapt to changing work trends.
  • Integration and Ongoing Strategy:
    • Slack operated mostly independently within Salesforce’s ecosystem.
    • Founder’s departure and focus on integrating Slack into Salesforce’s strategy.
  • Revenue Generation and Potential:
    • Slack generated $1.5 billion in revenue by early 2023.
    • Acknowledgment of Slack’s substantial revenue potential.
  • Significance and Integration:
    • Integration of Slack into Salesforce’s ecosystem to enhance collaboration and productivity.
    • Strategic move to adapt to remote and digital work environments.

Related Visual Stories

Who Owns Salesforce

who-owns-salesforce
Marc Benioff, Co-CEO of Salesforce is the main individual shareholder, with 3% of the company’s stock. Other major individual shareholders comprise Parker Harris, Co-Founder, and Chief Technology Officer, and Bret Taylor, who is the company’s CEO. Major institutional shareholders comprise The Vanguard Group, Fidelity, and BlackRock.

Salesforce Business Model

salesforce-business-model
Salesforce follows a SaaS business model, offering four main categories of cloud CRM (Customer Relationship Management) services spanning the sales cloud to the marketing cloud. Where subscriptions drive the primary revenue model. However, the company leverages professional assistance to push the adoption of the software and retention of paying subscribers. Indeed, in 2023 Salesforce generated $29 billion from subscriptions and $2.33 billion from professional services.

Salesforce Revenue

salesforce-revenue-breakdown
In 2023 Salesforce generated $29 billion from subscriptions and $2.33 in professional services, compared to $24.66 billion in subscriptions in 2022 and $1.83 in professional services.

Salesforce Employees

salesforce-employee
Salesforce had 73,000 employees in 2022, compared to 56,000 employees in 2021, and 49,000 employees in 2020.

Salesforce Marketing Expenses

salesforce-marketing-expense-as-percentage-of-revenue
In 2023, Salesforce spent 43% of its total revenue on marketing and sales expenses, compared to 45% in 2022, and 45% in 2021.

Salesforce Cost Structure

salesforce-cost-structure
Professional services are run at negative gross margins. In short, in 2022, on $2.33 billion in revenue from professional services, Salesforce reported a $208 million gross loss. In short, Salesforce runs professional services at a loss to boost its subscription revenue over time since professional services are used to enhance the use and retention of the software. The subscription revenue cost structure is quite effective. In 2022 on a $29 billion in subscription revenue, the company reported $5.82B in cost of revenue (expenses related to delivering the service and providing support, including the costs of data center capacity), thus generating a $23.2 billion in gross profits, in 2023.

Salesforce Revenue Per Employee

salesforce-profits
Salesforce generated $208 million in profits in 2023, compared to $1.44 billion in 2021, and over $4 billion in profits in 2020.

Salesforce Competitors

salesforce-competitors
Salesforce is a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) provider, allowing businesses to build meaningful and sustained relationships with their customers. With robust, customizable software that integrates with social media, Gmail, and Microsoft Outlook, the Salesforce CRM platform is rated highly among businesses of all shapes and sizes. Recent data has shown that the company has captured 19.5% of the global CRM market.

Salesforce Mission Statement

salesforce-mission-statement
Salesforce’s mission is to build bridges between companies and customers. Salesforce does that via a SaaS platform, which is enhanced via professional services offered on top of it.

Salesforce Acquisitions

salesforce-acquisitions
Salesforce was founded in 1999 by Marc Benioff, Frank Dominguez, Dave Moellenhoff, and Parker Harris. In a relatively short time, the corporate powerhouse of enterprise software has made numerous acquisitions as part of its broader growth strategy to become a SaaS giant!

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who-owns-slack
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