In an interview at the Wall Street Journal's Tech Live conference in Laguna Beach, Slack CEO and founder, Stewart Butterfield addressed the company’s chief rival, Microsoft Teams. This comes as Slack experiences mounting pressure to show growth as their stock price slide.
However, Butterfield insisted that its daily active users had jumped 37% from a year earlier. While discussing their growth, he took direct aim at their competitor in the workplace chat app.
In July, Microsoft revealed a chart, stating the app had 13 million daily active users, compared to Slack’s 12 million users, and that it was growing faster. In October, Slack responded stating that while their user numbers were lower, they were highly engaged, which the company insisted was more important than user metrics.
When asked about this, Butterfield was taken aback. “The bigger point is that’s kind of crazy for Microsoft to do, especially during the quiet period. I had someone say it was unprecedented since the [Steve] Ballmer era. I think it’s more like unprecedented since the Gates’ 98-99 era. I think they feel like we’re an existential threat,” he explained. Butterfield doubled down by mentioning that several of the top Google search trends for Microsoft Teams are related to how to uninstall the app.
Butterfield said that Slack’s main focus on the business of workplace communication will prove to be their winning assets over the tech giant with “multiple lines of business units.” He also added that “often the small startup with real traction with customers has [an] advantage versus the large incumbent.”
"There's still a lot of people choosing Slack despite the fact that they have Teams bundled in for free," he said.
Before Slack, Butterfield ran online photo management and sharing application startup, Flickr which sold to Yahoo for over $20 million. As a philosophy major in a tech world full of software engineers, Butterfield is a novelty in Silicon Valley.
"He is your quintessential, product-oriented founder-leader," says Aaron Levie, the chief executive of cloud storage company, Box. “He has just the right level of quirkiness.”
In September, Slack's stock fell 33% from its original IPO listing price of $38.50. The company looks to Butterfield to lead it’s way back to the top.