Summaries

Slack's Founding Story | (Slack) Cal Henderson & (Coatue) Sarah Cannon | Slush 2023

Published
December 8, 2023
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3
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Updated
December 18, 2023
Jenna Pitkälä
Slack's Founding Story | (Slack) Cal Henderson & (Coatue) Sarah Cannon | Slush 2023
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Want to learn the best business insights from remarkable speakers at Slush 2023, but don’t have the time to watch the full speeches on YouTube?

You’ve come to the right place. Below is a summary of a speech by Sarah Cannon and Cal Henderson of Slack.

(psst: the notes were automatically generated with Wudpecker's AI notetaking tool. If you'd like to check these notes + transcript + audio recording without needing to log in, press here.)

<p class="h1-rich">🤏 TL;DR</p>

Slack was originally built to provide transparency in organizational decision-making and has fundamentally changed organizations. The founders pivoted from game development to a communication platform after realizing it was not viable as a business. Slack aims to use AI to unlock the value of the vast amount of data stored in its platform and provide insights to users. Action items include developing AI capabilities, improving alignment within teams, leveraging generative AI, and exploring new modes of interaction with technology.

<p class="h1-rich">✨ Summary</p>

Origin Story of Slack

  • Slack was originally built with the goal of providing transparency in organizational decision-making.
  • The founders realized that many employees lacked insight into the decisions made by managers and wanted to create a platform that would provide visibility into these decisions.
  • Slack's vision of transparency and insight into decision-making has fundamentally changed organizations.

Pivot from Game Development to Slack

  • The founders initially started out trying to create a massively multiplayer online game, but after four years, they realized it was not viable as a business.
  • The decision to pivot from game development to a communication platform like Slack was not an easy or quick one.
  • They were in a zone where the game was somewhat working, but they were unsure if it would ever reach the level of success they desired.

Challenges and Decisions in Building Slack

  • One of the biggest challenges was convincing investors to support the change in direction from game development to building a communication platform.
  • Existing investors were supportive and encouraged the founders to try something new.
  • The decision to focus on transparency and collaboration in the workplace was driven by the founders' own experience and the need for better communication tools.

The Role of AI in Slack

  • Slack aims to use AI to unlock the value of the vast amount of data stored in its platform.
  • The goal is to provide users with insights and information from past conversations and projects, making them more productive and informed.
  • AI capabilities, such as generative language models, can help automate tasks and allow users to focus on more high-value, collaborative, and creative activities.

Collaboration and Productivity Challenges in Today's Workplace

  • The increasing complexity and collaborative nature of work require effective alignment and communication within teams.
  • Getting people on the same page and pointed in the same direction remains a fundamental challenge in the workplace.
  • Automation and AI can free up time for more collaborative and creative work, but the challenge of alignment and communication persists.

Direct Listing and Going Public

  • Slack's decision to go public through a direct listing was influenced by factors such as existing capital and not needing to raise additional funds at the time.
  • Direct listings provided an alternative route to going public, but the economic landscape and options have evolved since then.
  • Each company should consider the specific circumstances and goals when deciding on the best approach to going public.
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Slack's Founding Story | (Slack) Cal Henderson & (Coatue) Sarah Cannon | Slush 2023
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Slack's Founding Story | (Slack) Cal Henderson & (Coatue) Sarah Cannon | Slush 2023
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Slack's Founding Story | (Slack) Cal Henderson & (Coatue) Sarah Cannon | Slush 2023
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