News & Opinion | June 20, 2019 1:02 pm

Get to Know Slack, the Latest Billion-Dollar Tech IPO

Its IPO this morning just made its CEO, Stewart Butterfield, a billionaire

Slack is a publicly traded company as of Thursday. (Chesnot/ Getty)
Getty Images

Slack and its colorful, emoji-utilizing platform has more than 10 million daily users across 600,000 organizations — and its IPO this morning made its CEO, Stewart Butterfield, a billionaire.

The IPO was reported at $26 on Wednesday night, valuing the company at $15.7 billion, according to Forbes, and Butterfield’s 7 percent stake worth $1.2 billion. The Canadian entrepreneur and CEO, who started Slack in 2014, is also the cofounder of the photo sharing site Flickr.

Embraced by news industries and tech companies alike, Slack is the inter-office instant messaging service that allows coworkers to communicate, share documents, pictures, GIFs — basically anything you can imagine. More traditional fields like medicine, law and finance have been hesitant to jump on board, and “Congratulations” to those industries, as Seth Fiegerman, writing for CNN, quipped.

“You have probably made better life choices than I have,” he added, riffing on both his given field and its preoccupation with Slack. “Slack is many things: an engine for collaboration and a distraction machine; a community-builder for an office and a facsimile of high school cliques; a service to streamline work and to blur the lines of your work/life balance. It is the bane of my existence and also, at times, the only salve for a stressful day.”

Remember the America Online instant messenger? Slack is like that but for work and with the advantages of 20 years-worth of technology.

Slack can be divided by different channels for different teams of people who work towards different goals, all for the same company. It’s where gossip in private group chats can ensue without the threat of being overheard and, as Fiegerman noted, “where you welcome new employees.”

It’s used by companies ranging from CNN and Lyft to IBM and yes, friends, InsideHook, too.

“Our users, whether on a free or paid subscription plan, are highly engaged,” Slack wrote in its stock market filing. “During the week ended January 31, 2019, more than 1 billion messages were sent in Slack.”

The company added that users at organizations that pay for its service “averaged nine hours connected to Slack through at least one device and spent more than 90 minutes actively using Slack.”

While these numbers have seemingly impressed investors and traders alike, they unfortunately also paint a rather bleak picture of anyone on Slack who thinks they’ll actually be leaving their work at the office once they’re home for the day.

“Slack is… all-consuming because it’s fun and GIF-filled and deceptively non-threatening,” Fiegerman wrote. “[But] these numbers… highlight Slack’s potential to be an inferno for anyone who prizes their time, focus, privacy and some semblance of an anxiety-free life inside and outside the office.”

Editor’s Note: RealClearLife, a news and lifestyle publisher, is now a part of InsideHook. Together, we’ll be covering current events, pop culture, sports, travel, health and the world. Subscribe here for our free daily newsletter.