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If you're like our team at Drift (and over 2M other people) you spend most of your day on Slack (for better or worse). And you've probably just started seeing all of their new TV spots. But there's one thing you might not know about: how they built a four billion dollar business in four years without a sales team. This is our take on how it happened and what it means for the future of software businesses and your marketing. What do you think?

  • DC

    David Cancel

    about 4 years ago #

    We spent a lot of time diving deep for this article. Hope everyone enjoys it!

    • HQ

      Hila Qu

      about 4 years ago #

      Thanks for another great read, I've pretty much reached the conclusion that anything from Drift Blog is worth reading.

      Agree with the last part, Slack is trying to solve a very broad issue, in a very big addressable market, with sufficient funding, so it can use the freemium & PQL approach.

      I am very curious whether their are some notable companies who used a similar approach but failed?

  • ES

    Edward Stephens

    about 4 years ago #

    Great read - i agree with Jason their affiliation with Flickr couldn't have hurt.

    Slack also feels like it was spun out of something (makes sense it was a gaming engine). It has always felt light and engaging as it would need to be in an MMRPG.

    A head-on approach to 'solve' business woes at its inception may have made the approach feel more pretentious for want of a better word.

    The best thing is Slack blew air through the stuffy workplace closet and got a series of tired old organisations to wake up to the way people who are constantly 'on' really want to work.

    • DG

      Dave Gerhardt

      about 4 years ago #


      "The best thing is Slack blew air through the stuffy workplace closet and got a series of tired old organisations to wake up to the way people who are constantly 'on' really want to work."

  • PW

    Phil Wolff

    about 4 years ago #

    A good post but it misses the basic value architecture that drives Slack's growth.

    First, Slack is built as a social product. It's no use unless someone you want to talk with is also in the system. So the design incents users to evangelize. And the act of each person using Slack reinforces its value to their friends.

    Second, Slack was focused on your Dunbar network. Not forgotten high school alumni but the limited pools of people with whom you already have frequent, high-value, ongoing conversations. So when you use Slack, you're getting immediate value and are driven to complete enrolling and onboarding your whole team.

    Third, Metcalfe's law applies. Your Slack network gains value as the network grows. This is less true than in stranger-friendly social networks like Skype and Twitter.

    Fourth, Slack comes with a specific context: getting things done together. So it was much easier for the design team to build value for individuals, for teams as a whole, and for the managers who care about their teams' effectiveness.

    Last, Slack was really clear on the difference between users and customers. Users are so delighted by how the experience works for them that they bootlegged Slack into the workplace. So when those responsible for enterprise infosec took note, Slack just had to have the compliance features they need (backup, single signon, IT integration), with the business case already complete.

    Without this architecture, no branding would help Slack grow like wildfire.

  • WH

    Wilson Hung

    about 4 years ago #

    Great case study into Slack's strategy. Thanks for putting this together!

  • KG

    Kieran Goodacre

    about 4 years ago #

    What I love about slack is that essentially it makes the users the sales person.

    The other day I was working with a couple of people who hadn't used it and I essentially performed an off the cuff elevator pitch on behalf Slack, which = 3 new users.

    Classic virality.

  • DS

    Danavir Sarria

    about 4 years ago #

    Awesome read! I love these kind of posts!

  • JQ

    Jason Quey

    about 4 years ago #

    Great insight here. But I wonder how much of their early success was dependent on their initial success with Flickr.

    Mind you, the concept of making a killer product is important too. Thanks for the write up!

    • AA

      Anuj Adhiya

      about 4 years ago #

      This is the classic "unfair advantage" (from the Lean Canvas).
      Nothing wrong with having it (and in fact I'd argue you should do everything you can to get it) but its role in eventual success imo is never acknowledged to the extent that it should be.

    • DG

      Dave Gerhardt

      about 4 years ago #

      Flickr was for sure a huge part. If you go back and check all the headlines from their launch, it's all about "Flickr founder launches..."