Slack's life as a Silicon Valley outsider ended on November 2, 2016. Then, the startup published an open letter to Microsoft, telling the company that the release of the Teams app (a clone of the Slack app) was dishonest.
In its letter, Slack warned Microsoft that "Slack is here to stay." But the 4 million users it had then grew to just 12 million four years later, while Microsoft - which added Teams to the 365 package without raising the price - saw the app have from scratch - 115 million users.
This story helps to explain why Slack was sold this week to Salesforce. The deal, which gives Slack $ 27,7 billion, has been widely welcomed.
But the same agreement marks the end of an era where employees had the power to bring their own tools to the office and decide for themselves how they wanted to complete their work.
Slack did it first with small teams that wanted to speed up their work and then it was adopted by organizations and companies. Today, consolidations do not leave us much choice.
The rise of smartphones in the early 2010s also brought with it an increase in productivity tools in the workplace. Box and Dropbox brought easy file storage and sharing. Evernote has come up with the idea for cloud synchronization notes. Sunrise has created a social diary, while Mailbox and Acompli have redefined email for mobile phones.
Slack came in the middle of the decade and almost immediately became the fastest growing software business tool of all time. In 2015, just 18 months after its launch, the company reported that it had more than 1 million daily users - a number never heard before in corporate software.
The company embodies the belief that the best product wins in the end.
"Building a product that allows for significant improvements in the way people communicate requires a degree of reflection and skill that is not uncommon in corporate software development," the company wrote in an open letter to Microsoft.
"How far you go to help companies really transform and benefit from this shift to work is even more important than the individual capabilities of the software you copied."
Slack's struggle for success as an independent company unfortunately reflects the struggle of many innovative companies in business productivity. Mailbox died and Acompli was sold to Microsoft and became the Outlook mobile app. Evernote is a pale shadow of her former self. As a result of this crisis, only Box and Dropbox remain public companies.
Why is this happening; Aaron Levie, CEO of Box he says that everything ends up in sales. The idea that employees will one day be able to choose their own tools has always been a fantasy, he says, and in part most employees do not even want to think about their tools. In such a world, the winning application will almost always have a huge, purchasing power behind it.
Microsoft had. Slack did not. And Salesforce came.
"The reality with business is that you can have the best product, but that's not enough," says Levie. “You need distribution. And what does Salesforce have? they have the procurement managers, they also have the financial ones. They have all the infrastructure you need to interact and sell software. ”
What seems to be coming is a unified market where the threads will be moved by a few. All over the Internet, from app stores, search engines and social networks.
The fact that there are government antitrust authorities does not seem to mean anything.