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Slack’s problem just got a lot worse. Not only did the full-page New York Times ad fail to stop the upcoming launch of Microsoft Teams next week on March 14, but now Google is entering the fray with Hangouts Chat in private beta. For the millions of G Suite and Office 365 users, Slack will soon be superfluous.
Slack is the revival of IRC for the workplace, with some boring bots and excellent extensions thrown in. If you develop for Slack, there’s no reason not to bring your project over to Google’s and Microsoft’s platforms as well.
In other words, Slack doesn’t offer anything that Google and Microsoft can’t replicate.
I’m not saying Google and Microsoft have everything figured out. They really don’t.
Google now has even more messaging apps. It’s absolutely ridiculous to offer Android Messages, Allo, Duo, Google Voice, Hangouts Chat, and Hangouts Meet, and expect your users not to get confused by the overlap.
Microsoft does not have “any plans for a free or consumer offering of Teams.” Right, because that will help adoption.
And yet, Google and Microsoft will inevitably hit Slack exactly where it hurts: paying users. The two tech giants are going after the enterprise.
Almost every business either has G Suite or Office 365, whether it’s just to handle email (who nowadays doesn’t have a Gmail/Outlook account for work?), shared calendars, or the whole array of enterprise apps. As a company, why the hell would you shell out for one of them and Slack? If Google and Microsoft offer an alternative as part of the subscription you’re already paying for, it’s a no-brainer to either switch from Slack or never bother getting Slack in the first place.
It doesn’t matter if Slack offers something that Hangouts Chat or Microsoft Teams don’t. Google and Microsoft will iterate like crazy. And as they go, Slack simply will stop seeing the growth it has been enjoying up until now.
Unless Slack comes up with some genius business proposition, Google and Microsoft are going to slowly but surely tear the startup apart.
ProBeat is a column in which Emil rants about whatever crosses him that week.
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