Says who? Anyone with an avid interest in chat-based workspaces, but especially Slack's investors, many of whom want to see the company – valued at $23 billion on the first day it went public – provide a solid return on investment.
How likely is this? Very likely. Microsoft mulled a Slack acquisition, then decided against it to focus on Skype in 2016. However, Slack continued to entrench itself as the de facto standard for a new collaborative workspace. Thanks to the one-two-three punch of web-based app/desktop app/mobile app, Slack users could maintain continuous communications and file sharing no matter what device they were on. Thus a collaboration tool became what the computer desktop used to be: The starting point for all work activity – with the bonus of not being tied to a specific device. Meanwhile, Skype continued to skid and Microsoft folded Skype for Business into Teams and is planning to phase it out for enterprises.
The competition has been good for enterprise customers. This year, both products incorporated a wide array of features that facilitate multiple types of communication among end users – like email prompts alerting one to a workspace-based conversation they should know about – and streamline workflow processes. People can now coordinate their calendars via Slack or Teams, for example. And both products are currently looping other workflow apps into their collaboration ecosystem, like Dropbox or Trello.
While Slack's been careful to emphasize its continued paying-customer growth and Microsoft's talked about Teams as being more big-customer focused than Slack is, the two companies are effectively making the same product for the same audience – office workers. And Microsoft has started pointing out that Slack's integration of Office products is not something that happened because of company collaboration – Slack used available APIs to build the products on its own.
Why? As of right now, Slack has the cultural mindshare and 105,000 paid customers as of December 2019. But it's up against Microsoft and Microsoft's hefty customer base – all of whom will have access to Teams as it's rolled into the Microsoft services they're already using. As of March 2019, Team's second birthday, Microsoft said more than 500,000 organizations were using Teams – that includes 91 of the Fortune 100 companies. It also recently said it's got 20 million active daily users. IT departments will have to answer the question, "Why should we pay extra for Slack when we already have Teams?" As Hunter Willis, product marketing manager at TK company Avepoint, said, "Microsoft has also been clear that Teams is its number one product focus within Office 365. Twenty million active daily users is impressive, but it represents only 10 percent of the more than 200 million Office 365 commercial users. From this perspective, it's hard to see how any enterprise productivity software has stronger growth potential in 2020." – Lisa Schmeiser