The not-so-subtle way to throw shade

Slack teases Microsoft but is Teams better?

Gabriela Motroc
Twin brothers fighting image via Shutterstock

It was just last year that a war between Slack and Atlassian’s HipChap was shyly starting to simmer. While Steve Goldsmith, general manager of HipChat at Atlassian, told Fast Company “It’s not a finite pie that Slack and HipChat are going to carve up” and emphasized that “there’s plenty of room for both to be huge providers,” Stewart Butterfield, co-founder and chief executive of Slack stayed silent. Until Microsoft came into play.

It all began when Microsoft unveiled Microsoft Teams, “the chat-based workspace in Office 365 that integrates all the people, content, and tools your team needs to be more engaged and effective.” Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, said at the conference that Microsoft does not want to “take away any success anyone else has” but the target was clear to everyone — Teams looks a lot like Slack, the chat service with roughly four million daily active users. As a result, Slack took out a full-page ad in the New York Times in which it welcomed the company founded by Bill Gates to the revolution.

“Slack is here to stay”

Slack explained in the open letter that “it’s not the features that matter.”

How far you go in helping companies truly transform to take advantage of this shift in working is even more important than the individual software features you are duplicating.

They also emphasized the importance of an open platform and revealed that “there are 750 apps in the Slack App Directory for everything from marketing automation, customer support, and analytics, to project management, CRM, and developer tools.” Therefore, if Microsoft is unable to offer an open platform and make people’s lives easier, “it’s just not going to work,”they said. 

Slack also offered Microsoft a lesson with regard to passion and love:

We love our work, and when we say our mission is to make people’s working lives simpler, more pleasant, and more productive, we’re not simply mouthing the words. If you want customers to switch to your product, you’re going to have to match our commitment to their success and take the same amount of delight in their happiness.

The conclusion was that “Slack is here to stay” — a soft threat that Microsoft Teams cannot take it down especially since they have gained the trust of countless companies and “you can see Slack at work in nearly every newsroom and every technology company across the country.” This idea is also emphasized by The New York Times, which suggested that people use Slack because they want to, not because they have to (remember that Microsoft Teams is an addition to the Office package).

The moral of the story is if you’re a large incumbent with many lines of business, it is incredibly difficult to take on a smaller, focused start-up that has traction in the market,” Butterfield told The New York Times

Is Microsoft Teams the Slack slayer?

One cannot argue that Microsoft Teams looks a lot like Slack.

However, there are some differences. Samir Diwan, CEO of Polly, a Seattle-based start-up which developed polling software that works with Slack and Microsoft Teams told The New York Times that Microsoft’s advantage over Slack is credibility. “That’s where Microsoft has an inherent advantage around security,” Diwan said. Teams also has a project planning tool which allows users to assign tasks and check statuses within the workspace.

But the list of differences is not that long — observe the bots, UX, multimedia customization and decide yourself if Slack is entitled to defend its position in people’s lives.

Gabriela Motroc
Gabriela Motroc was editor of and JAX Magazine. Before working at Software & Support Media Group, she studied International Communication Management at the Hague University of Applied Sciences.

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