Slack Connect opens up channel-based communication to outside companies

Dive Brief:

  • On Wednesday Slack announced Slack Connect, a function that allows up to 20 companies to talk securely in a single channel, according to CEO Stewart Butterfield. 
  • Slack Connect is “designed to replace email,” as it extends the platform’s primarily internal functionality outside of a business. The company’s enterprise security standards, including data loss prevention, retention, e-discovery and its Enterprise Key Management capability, are extended on Slack Connect. 
  • The company has been developing the extension of its channel-based platform for more than four years. Time, Airbnb, Box and Wayfair are among the existing Slack Connect customers. Calendar, video and other application integrations will continue to roll out, including direct messaging abilities.

Dive Insight:

Slack has been nipping at the heels of email since its inception. The communication company repeatedly referred to email as the “cockroach of the internet,” as it’s impossible to kill — there will always be employees who prefer emails over instant messaging platforms. 

However, COVID-19 has done platforms like Slack a tremendous favor in terms of marketing, adoption and widespread use. All generations of workers, forced to work from home, had to adapt to these tools in some capacity. 

In about two weeks in March, Slack’s “simultaneously connected users” increased by 2.5 million, reaching 12.5 million users. When the company began, it had 1 million simultaneously connected users. In its Q1 2021, the company added “a record” 90,000 net new, free and paid organizations, reaching 122,000 total paying customers. At the time of its latest earning call, the company announced a partnership with AWS. 

The deal is mutually beneficial; the cloud provider and Slack are working on deepening “interoperability to help developer teams manage their AWS resources” while AWS uses Slack for internal communications. 

The partnership was announced as Slack’s greatest rival, Microsoft Teams, announced an extension of its platform to consumers. Teams has allowed external communication with business partners within the Azure Active Directory since 2017. 

While Slack is praised as the pioneer of channel-based communication, the platform has to compete with the one-stop-shop software bundles Microsoft is known for. While Slack is favored by loyal users like developers, Microsoft’s footing is deeply entrenched in existing enterprise systems.