In less than two months, Slack has already registered 9,000 new corporate clients. That’s twice as much as instant messaging for professionals usually convinces in a quarter. Forced to telecommute to slow down the Covid-19 pandemic, office workers and executives around the world have turned to this type of software to keep in touch with their colleagues. For Stewart Butterfield, the 46-year-old Canadian serial entrepreneur behind Slack and also Flick’R, the current crisis is most uncertain.
Your Slack software has never been used as much as in this period of global containment. Will it last?
We have actually seen more and more teams connect to our tool, first in Japan and South Korea, then in Europe and now in the United States. This followed the spread of the pandemic. Yesterday, there were a total of 12.5 million employees from all types of companies, while we had for the first time on March 10, exceeded 10 million simultaneous users.
For us, last week was the most productive in the history of Slack! We called back all the contacts from our sales teams and we had 72 hours to respond to customer requests instead of the usual three months.
The crisis will accelerate a trend already at work for several years. It is inevitable that more and more people will work from home rather than from the offices of their employers. There will be no turning back.
How does Slack make a difference compared to its competitors?
Slack is not intended as teleworking software. But it is a tool allowing a more agile organization in companies. This is exactly what our customers need in a situation like the one they are currently experiencing. The subject is just as much being able to work from home as it is to work in a time of stress and permanent change like a pandemic. In both cases, information sharing is critical. In a way, Slack is made for this type of period where you have to adapt overnight.
The recession is threatening the global economy. What will be the consequences for Slack?
It is very difficult to say when the epidemic could end dramatically for many people. As a business, the impact will likely be neutral for us. The question is whether our new users will convince their organizations to become customers of our paid offers. Many companies will cut their spending, for example SMEs or airlines. They thought they had a year of cash ahead of them, they now barely have a month … I understand them. But other customers will speed up because they will need agility to survive. I experienced the explosion of the Internet bubble and the 2008 crisis, this period is even more uncertain. But it’s energizing!