One of the greatest technology battles of our generation is Slack vs Microsoft Teams. They are fighting over the communication channel business takes place. Business used to take place on email, but with better technology and better user experiences, email begun to lose its attractiveness and people are beginning to prefer chat applications. Last week, I ran a survey on Linkedin to see which service was more popular. I got about 270 votes and it was neck and neck.
I remember being an early adopter of Slack in 2014 my freshman year of college. I have never actually had to experience building a business using email as the primary communication method. Thank god! All I've ever known is Slack. I can't imagine life without it and many other people feel the same. Slack's early adopters were technology companies and startups. The developer community loved it and you started to see Slack move across entire companies and gain significant market share, but they had a challenger...
When Microsoft launched Teams, their lead and market share were threatened for a couple of reasons. For one, Microsoft basically gave Teams away for free as part of their Office Suite. They had immediate distribution to thousands of the biggest businesses across the world and could scale at breakneck speed. They also had the resources to innovate and market the service very quickly. They did a great job of that as well. Below is the result of their massive scale and distribution.
You can see how fast Microsoft caught up despite launching years after Slack. The battle got heated when Slack challenged Microsoft with anti-competitive tactics by giving it to customers for free and basically automatically putting it on people's computers. Unfortunately for Slack, it looks like they lost the battle and had to sell to Salesforce in order to get access to similar resources and distribution. I believe this acquisition will be a great move long term, but I will always wonder what Slack could have done on its own. I do know one thing for sure... Email or is dead or greatly reduced 5-10 years from now.
If there is one thing to learn from all of this, 8 or 9 times out of 10, great business models and innovations will be copied and greatly challenged by the big guys, and most of the time, they will win or get their share. That's the world we live in.