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Slack founder Stewart Butterfield shares some thoughts on the reasons for Slack's tremendous growth. At the time of this article, Slack reaches “30,000+ active teams using Slack” and 268,000 daily active users. It also said its active user base is growing by 3 to 5 percent a week.

  • PL

    Peep Laja

    over 4 years ago #

    A year or so ago I talked to a founder who ended up selling his B2B SaaS (marketplace) company for $100 million. I asked him what kind of marketing and optimization did they do before the company took off. His reply: "None. It was all pure luck. I guess the timing was right."

    No dedicated growth effort. Well executed product at the right time.

  • LM

    Lincoln Murphy

    over 4 years ago #

    It was a refreshingly honest answer... and this is why some of the greatest "growth hacks" are only discovered in hindsight.

    • IK

      Igor Kryltsov

      over 4 years ago #

      Do you really think it can be discovered "in hindsight"? If you measured it before, did something and it worked - you have graphs with one or two metrics that matter you can show and explain what was done. Did you see it ever published? I guess this knowledge is either hidden because it represents a competitive advantage or simply is in hindsight - because no one measured, then everyone points to Slack and you suppose to know how but you don't. It just worked.

  • LM

    Lincoln Murphy

    over 4 years ago #

    OR... that answer was itself a Growth Hack to endear Slack to developers even more.

    If he said "oh, this whole thing is orchestrated, we heavily-engineered viral loops, etc. etc". they would completely alienate their core user base.

    OR... he really doesn't know, but his "growth hacking" team does. Plausible Deniability.

  • DM

    Dan Medcraft

    over 4 years ago #

    I'd be interested to know what others thought about this - I mean, let's be honest, Slack wasn't really reinventing the wheel. There's plenty of other services that do the same thing (most of them a lot cheaper too), like HipChat.

    So what made this so special?

    • JG

      James Greig

      over 4 years ago #

      Because Slack does it better than anyone else, no?

      • JG

        James Greig

        over 4 years ago #

        Oh and also... integrations... lots of them :)

        • DM

          Dan Medcraft

          over 4 years ago #

          plenty of other chat programs have integrations

          • CM

            chaz mee

            over 4 years ago #

            Glip has a lot of integrations now. I started using it in 2013 before I found out about Slack. Glip also has built in video conferencing as well.

      • JS

        Jared Smith

        over 4 years ago #

        I wouldn't say better, because you could argue for days about what is better. It just feels different than using hipchat.

      • DM

        Dan Medcraft

        over 4 years ago #

        no, they really don't! I mean, it's a good product, but I certainly don't understand the hype

    • JS

      Jared Smith

      over 4 years ago #

      Very true! Arguably for technical teams hipchat is better! It has code highlighting etc, but slack is beating the pants off of them.

      • VV

        Visakan Veerasamy

        over 4 years ago #

        Our team uses Hipchat, works great for us!

        • DM

          Dan Medcraft

          over 4 years ago #

          but that's why I'm asking - WHY is working great for you? Is it because your team hasn't had a central chat program like this, or did you road-test a bunch of similar products first?

          • VV

            Visakan Veerasamy

            over 4 years ago #

            I guess we transitioned to HipChat from Skype, and we've been enjoying it a lot- we have a very strong engineering team and founders who come up with all sorts of custom notifications that we find useful. So the cost of even trying Slack feels like it's not worth the time (since we're so invested in making HipChat work great for us)

      • LF

        Levi Figueira

        over 4 years ago #

        Wait: code highlighting is why you prefer HipChat? LOL You obviously haven't used Slack, which is fine, but it's kinda hilarious that you bring up that point, something that Slack does a lot better.

        Oh, and Markdown. And editing your messages. And previews for links. And… Really: I've used HipChat long before most people, but it wasn't hard to recognize Slack as a better app overall… :)

    • DS

      Derek Scruggs

      over 4 years ago #

      I don't know. I tried it out a few months ago but found the UI confusing. I much prefer Flowdock though our company uses Hipchat.

    • PT

      Paul Tunnicliffe

      over 4 years ago #

      Slack works best for most teams because of the way it seamlessly integrates with most other systems (hangouts, social, bitbucket, trello... anything you can setup a 'slackbot' to plugin to).

      This is why its succeeding: it's a fuss free 'back door' programme that acts as a central hub with almost zero stress.

    • IK

      Igor Kryltsov

      over 4 years ago #

      HipChat was acquired by Atlassian 3 years ago. Atlassian positions itself as a company which helps software development and engineering teams to collaborate. This is actually their mission. Until you ask why HipChat did not become what Slack is now 3 years ago?

      • DM

        Dan Medcraft

        over 4 years ago #

        maybe because saying that your tool "helps software development and engineering teams to collaborate" that would scare off a lot of non-tech people?

        I work for a software developer, and I work very closely with a range of Dev teams, and most of them if given the chance would probably just use IRC as a communication tool. They don't give a shit about all the fancy bells and whistles and how the chat tool looks.

        Also, the guy that co-created Slack was a form co-founder of Flickr. I bet if you went and asked people in the street if they've heard of Flickr and/or Atlassian, I'd be willing to bet that the majority of them would know Flickr way more than Atlassian. So when the guy who runs Flickr is starting a new project, then that's going to be something worth reporting

  • SV

    Sascha Pascal van Opzeeland

    over 4 years ago #

    Timing, yes, and luck with a hype around them as well. But their product also simply works very smoothly of course. And (correct me if I'm wrong because I am not so familiar with e.g. HipChat) I believe that they are more open than other solutions for integrations, like with their #channel feature. Couldn't this explain what gave them the original push, after which a hype developed?

  • LS

    Logan Stoneman

    over 4 years ago #

    Product Market fit?

    And at least he's honest & humble instead of making up some elaborate answer.

  • JP

    Jonathan Placa

    over 4 years ago #

    I was recently comparing Slack vs. Hipchat and actually started with Hipchat first. Slack trumps Hipchat in integrations and we ultimately moved platforms (and haven't looked back since).

    Also, the experience of Slack is much more light-hearted (e.g slackbot) which compliments many startups' cultures (hipchat feels more "corporate")

    • PW

      Philip Wilkinson

      over 4 years ago #

      I think that's a big part of it - it's fun to use and comes across as well designed and "not another boring enterprise app"

  • AL

    Angus Lynch

    over 4 years ago #

    We like it because it's there when you need it, and doesn't bother you when you don't. You don't get bombarded with useless updates or triggered emails you don't want.

  • CM

    chaz mee

    over 4 years ago #

    If anyone wants to read a good informative article about how they grew, what they paid attention to and how their product achieved fit with customers, here's a good article http://firstround.com/article/From-0-to-1B-Slacks-Founder-Shares-Their-Epic-Launch-Strategy

  • SP

    Sai Prasad

    over 4 years ago #

    We use slack at our startup. I guess the secret to their growth is its awesome fun and easy to use!

  • ET

    Everette Taylor

    over 4 years ago #

    Loved it as soon as I used it, this is coming from someone who used HipChat previously. Timing is everything, but add a great product and a little luck - this what happens.

  • HW

    Hashim Warren

    over 4 years ago #

    Slack is a "Black Swan". And its founder is warning you not to get "fooled by randomness."

  • KS

    Kiki Schirr

    over 4 years ago #

    I actually wrote an article about this--I think Slack is (somehow) unaware that they're no longer an enterprise app.

  • AM

    Anton Mironov

    over 4 years ago #

    I think the point here is its pricing strategy: slack is free for basic chat and bill for integrations.
    Hipchat pivoted that way only 8 months ago, when slack had already conquered the world: https://blog.hipchat.com/2014/05/27/hipchat-is-now-free-for-unlimited-users/

    When hipchat was started, there were such tools like https://campfirenow.com, https://jaconda.im (disclaimer: i'm the founder of it), and few now dead ones on the market. All of them bill accounts for users (free up to 5 users in a room).

    So hipchat launched with the same pricing strategy, and quickly dominated the market with good product and smart advertising.
    Slack just made a step forward with right pricing strategy imho.

  • DM

    Daniel Mirolli

    over 4 years ago #

    Also can't overstate @stewart and @SlackHQ strategic move to get @sandwich to do a launch video. Video = shareable jet fuel

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