MARCH 9, 2020, was always going to be a big day for Slack. The Monday after the start of daylight saving time in the United States brings the U.S. and Europe an hour closer together, and the extra hour of workday overlap between the two continents has traditionally resulted in a jump in simultaneous users on the digital messaging platform.
But that Monday, something unexpected happened.
Concerns about the coronavirus had been taking hold the previous week across the United States. Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google began to tell employees to work from home. Stanford University canceled in-person classes. South by Southwest called off its Austin festival completely. MGM postponed the launch of the 25th James Bond movie from Easter to Thanksgiving. Its title: No Time to Die.
“We expected to see a spike on that Monday morning,” says Cal Henderson, Slack’s CTO. The company has “an internal channel that automatically posts when we set a new record,” and its automated chime went off more than once that day: Slack’s worldwide connected users hit an all-time high. The number of daily messages sent did, too. “We didn’t build Slack for a global pandemic,” says Henderson, just over a week after hitting this benchmark. “But it is hugely applicable to what’s happening in the world.”
Even if you ignored the news as the pandemic unfolded and were just watching Slack’s user stats, you would have known something epic was happening. Slack hit the milestone of 10 million simultaneous users for the first time ever on March 10. Six days later, on March 16, Slack notched 11 million. Seven days after that, on March 23, Slack reached 12 million simultaneous users. Slack had more new people using it at the same time in two weeks of concern about the social spreading of the novel coronavirus than it had added in the previous six months. And the pace accelerated: Slack added another 500,000 simultaneous users in just two days at the end of March.
In short order, as tens of millions of employees started working from their kitchen tables, kids’ playrooms, or propped up in their beds, Slack made it possible for many of them to have conversations, ask questions, share information, make decisions. The platform combines the superficial simplicity of smartphone text messaging with the ability to separate and chronicle streams of workplace communication in a way that reproduces the culture of the open-plan office. The strings of messages are democratic, energizing, and also sometimes distracting. In the pandemic, Slack let the people who could keep working, keep working.
As business swerved to avoid the coronavirus, it was turning to Slack for help.
Before the pandemic, Slack counted 65 of the 100 largest public companies in the U.S. as customers, along with The Washington Post and The New York Times, and a dozen agencies of the American government (including the State Department and, reportedly, the National Security Agency). Slack had defined this new form of workplace communication and had grown in less than seven years to more than 110,000 paying customers and $630 million in annual revenue. But investors had been wary of the company since it went public in June 2019, because of its slowing growth, lack of profitability, and competition from Microsoft, which has a competing product called Teams that is free. The company reported its fiscal 2020 earnings on March 12, the day after the news that Tom Hanks had contracted COVID-19. As its annual losses had grown, so too had skepticism about Slack’s prospects. Two trading days later, March 16, investors knocked the company’s stock down to its lowest -ever price, 56% below its June debut. They did not yet know that Slack had not only just hit its second simultaneous user milestone in a week but that it would also add almost as many customers in the first seven weeks of the quarter that began February 1 as it had in the previous six months.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Parks and Recreation
With its new Public Lands stores, Dick’s Sporting Goods is venturing further into the values driven terrain that has defined its past few years.
How Safdie Architects created a daring new skyscraper that reaches both up—and across—the skyline
Before & After
Productivity means something different now. Let's embrace that.
Giving new life to old roofing shingles
Gaf is blazing a path toward more environmentally responsible manufacturing and construction
Riz Ahmed – "You're literally flipping the script"
It takes some serious organizational skills to make a difference in Hollywood from the inside. Riz Ahmed shows how it’s done.
“I hate it, but it's over fast.”
In the morning, I take five Duolingo lessons. I do three French lessons, one Portuguese lesson, and, of late, a Japanese lesson.
Mind Over Matter
In an era of body positivity, some companies are selling mindfulness as a way to lose weight. The approach is not as healthy as it seems.
High-speed 5G drives new opportunities for small businesses
AS THE 5G ROLLOUT CONTINUES, IT OFFERS SMALL AND MIDSIZE BUSINESSES A FAST, SIMPLE, AFFORDABLE ALTERNATIVE TO CONVENTIONAL BROADBAND
NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps is training to fly into the unknown. She shares how she prepares mentally and physically while still managing to stay grounded.
Intelligently electrifying the planet
NUVVE TRANSFORMS ELECTRIC VEHICLES INTO ENERGY-EARNING ASSETS
5 Tips For Fostering A Successful Hybrid Workplace
Businesses figured out how to work remotely on the fly when COVID-19 rapidly disrupted our way of working.
Several People Are Typing
Slack made it easier to crack jokes and easier to stir up trouble. Employees love it. Bosses don’t.
SLACK KICKS OFF 2021 WITH A GLOBAL OUTAGE
Slack, the messaging service used by millions of people for work and school, suffered a global outage on Monday, the first day back for most people returning from the New Year’s holiday.
THE U.K. OUTFIT HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD WITH THE TITLE OF THEIR LATEST RELEASE — STRANGE DAYS, INDEED
SLACK FILES ANTICOMPETITIVE COMPLAINT VS. MICROSOFT IN EU
Workplace chatting service Slack has filed a complaint in the European Union against Microsoft, accusing the software company of anti-competitive behavior.
How Stewart Butterfield Monetized Messaging
How Slack’s CEO and cofounder Stewart Butterfield monetized messaging
Slack Hacks to Help You Say Goodbye to Email
Slack has become one of the most popular tools that groups use to communicate and collaborate, but it’s not necessarily any more efficient than email on its own. These tips will help you get the most out of this powerful new messaging application.
Before he couldn’t work with Arch, he couldn’t work with Slackware, which is why Mayank Sharma jumps at everything that mentions the venerable distro.
Salesforce acquires Slack for $27.7B. What lies ahead in the digital collaboration space?
Just when we thought the collaboration space was plateauing with multiple players who were reaching saturation points with features and tools, the industry woke up to news that Slack was being acquired by Salesforce for $27.7B.
Slackline en México
Como deporte, el objetivo básico es avanzar por la cinta de manera equilibrada, lo cual solo se puede lograr con un alto nivel de concentración mental y control corporal.