Microsoft Introduces Slack Killer, and Slack Should be Crapping Themselves

Microsoft Teams launched this week. It’s Microsoft’s new office chat platform, which is a bit odd, because Yammer, a business they bought a few years ago, is also an office chat platform. Anyway, it looks like Microsoft created Teams to bring together users of Office365, which includes Microsoft properties like Skype, Word, Excel, Outlook and, at some point, I’m guessing, LinkedIn.

Microsoft Teams Screenshot

Microsoft Teams

Teams is currently available as a customer preview. It will be included in all Office365 subscriptions in early 2017. According to Microsoft, Office 365 boasts 85 million monthly active users.

That news, however, falls flat when looking at the response from spunky competitor Slack. Believe it or not, the startup purchased a full page ad in the New York Times. Check it out.

Slack's Full Page Ad in New York Times

Slack’s Full Page Ad in The New York Times

You can also read the ad’s content via Slack’s blog here, but it boils down the following response:

  • What Slack does is hard. “We’ve spent tens of thousands of hours talking to customers and adapting Slack to find the grooves that match all those human quirks. The internal transparency and sense of shared purpose that Slack-using teams discover is not an accident. Tiny details make big differences.”
  • Open is better than closed. Slack has an app store, saying to Microsoft, “if you can’t offer people an open platform that brings everything together into one place and makes their lives dramatically simpler, it’s just not going to work.”
  • Slack loves what they do. “If you want customers to switch to your product, you’re going to have to match our commitment to their success and take the same amount of delight in their happiness,” Slack said.

They ended the letter saying they weren’t going anywhere, and in many ways they were already entrenched. So noble.

Now what?

SlackI don’t buy it. Put a fork in ’em. Slack is cooked.

As I recently opined after the debut of Facebook at Work, the startup needs to sell itself as soon as possible. In fact, the Times ad may a strategic move to make the company more appealing to a potential buyer that might be having second thoughts seeing all these big boy competitors popping up everywhere.

Don’t get me wrong. Slack is a nice business. The people I know who use it, like it. But this is business. Slack is a feature and won’t last as a standalone product for long with platforms like Microsoft and Facebook launching serious businesses. Salesforce also has Chatter, remember. Could revenue-starved Twitter be far behind? Microsoft-owned LinkedIn integration is probably a foregone conclusion.

Then there’s commoditization. The pricetag for messaging services is racing to zero. It’ll either be part of a bigger platform subscription like Office365, or become super cheap like Facebook’s offering. Slack won’t have the pricing power they currently enjoy for long.

Lastly, think about security. If you’re a corporation, are you going to feel better about communications behind a firewall developed by Microsoft, Facebook and Salesforce, or an itty-bitty mobile app? Sure, the workers might prefer Slack, but the suits are going to opt for what they already know and trust.

“Just like Outlook brought email, contacts, and calendars under strong user scaffolding, Microsoft Teams will bring together chat, meetings, notes, and a host of other extensions to help teams get work done,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

Nadella’s right. My letter to Slack? “Dear Slack, find a buyer before the party runs out of sugar daddies.”

About the Author

joel-cheesman-headshotJoel Cheesman has over 20 years experience in the online recruitment space. He worked for both international and local job boards in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. In 2005, Cheesman founded HRSEO, a search engine marketing company for HR, as well as launching an award-winning industry blog called Cheezhead.

He has been featured in Fast Company and US News and World Report. He sold his company in 2009 to Jobing.com. He was employed by EmployeeScreenIQ, a background check company. He is the founder of Ratedly, an iOS app that monitors anonymous employee reviews. He is the father of two children and lives in Indianapolis. Yes, he’s on Twitter and LinkedIn. You can hire him too.

Joel Cheesman



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