Companies seeking to become fast and agile have tended to look upon the established email culture with contempt. They want their communications to be faster and more intuitive than anything email can offer. This perspective took hold at Lyft, for example, a major competitor of Uber, the ridesharing company. At one time, the company’s Lyft Business unit operated a conventional communications setup, with document exchange, email communication and messaging. That system worked well – as long as all of the unit’s employees were working in one place. And so, when the company opened two new locations, that limitation led it to introduce a new communications tool: Slack.
Slack is something of a rising star in the communications and collaboration firmament, with a purported ten million daily users. While most users use the service free of charge (which likely contributes significantly to the service’s success), a total of 85,000 companies pay for it. The company went public in June of this year, achieving a valuation of 16 billion dollars in its initial public offering. Deepest sympathy if you purchased any shares, by the way. If you did, you’ve lost about eighteen dollars per share as of today (November 2019). The stock market doesn’t seem to be too bullish on today’s new communications and collaboration culture. But that might change in the future.
While Slack is often described as a sort of “WhatsApp for business,” that description doesn’t really do the service justice. What Slack does have in common with WhatsApp – and with Twitter – is its instant-messaging speed, its simplicity of use and its support for public-channel communication. Significantly, that last feature tends to break down organizational silos, and it forces employees to adopt new perspectives on their communications.