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Flickr cofounder’s new startup is called Slack, and it just raised $42M

Above: Slack founder Stewart Butterfield

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Slack founder and chief executive Stewart Butterfield is hell-bent on a mission to make email obsolete and businesses more productive.

With his new SaaS-based messaging and search platform Slack, which just raised $42 million in venture funding from some of the Valley’s biggest names Friday, Stewart and his 23 person staff may well be on their way.

“It’s a (business) collaboration platform that let’s users port in conversations, links, and apps like DropBox, Google Docs, MailChimp, and GitHub,” Butterfield told VentureBeat Friday.

“Fifteen years ago, everything was Microsoft and it wanted control. (With Slack), everything flows into one central channel,” he said.

“Slack is making information more accessible and making it easier to take action on.”

The fast-talking Butterfield’s beef is with the way companies currently communicate – that is, through multiple channels like email, document-sharing, and instant messaging. Its a mess. It means you’re less productive.

Slack is ultimately a multi-tasking, searchable platform where employees find themselves centralized and on the same page.

Butterfield has been around the Valley’s block in every sense of the word. He co-founded Flickr with Caterina Fake, who later became his wife. They have since divorced. Flickr launched in 2004 and the following year was sold to Yahoo for around $35 million. Some say Yahoo got a bargain.

Slack is truly cross platform and runs on Android, iOS, and yes, even desktop.

It officially launched in February and within a few weeks had more than 10,000 daily users and was processing more than two million messages a week. Those stats have grown quickly to 60,000 daily users and ten million messages coming and going. Slack’s customer base is scaling rapidly. AOL. PayPal. Quora. Adobe. And dozens of others.

Butterfield said its explosive growth is due to word of mouth. No marketing. No gimmicks. Call it viral socializing.

Incredibly, Slack started as a massive virtual Web-based game called TinySpeck, but the development team switched gears when they realized the software had potentially bigger uses. Initially, Butterfield said, there were plenty of skeptics. Now, he said, many of those have now become fans.

In it’s short life, Slack is already cash-flow positive. And it’s ramping up quickly. (Read: hiring.)

For the latest fundraising, Linkedin chief Jeff Weiner, Bradley Horowitz of Google, former Groupon operating officer Rob Solomon, and Twitter co-founder Biz Stone pitched in. The Social + Capital Partnership led this recent round, with existing investors Accel Partners and Andreessen Horowitz also in the mix.

“We actually didn’t even need the money,” Butterfield said.

“People said we were out to kill email completely. That’s not entirely true. Any bit of information that stops on the site is absorbed into the platform and becomes accessible to anybody.”


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