Why couldn’t Slack go it alone?
The maker of collaboration software went public just over a year ago and should have boomed amid the pandemic. But on Tuesday, Slack agreed to combine with cloud-based software maker Salesforce in a deal valued at about $27.7 billion, ending its short run as a standalone public company.
Here’s one part of the answer: The company has struggled with competition especially from Microsoft, even during the pandemic. Earlier this year, Slack filed a complaint with the European Commission accusing Microsoft of illegally quashing younger competition by bundling Slack competitor Microsoft Teams into the “market-dominant” Microsoft Office suite that includes Outlook and Excel. (And as one Term Sheet reader cheekily noted in a recent email, giants like Alphabet have increasingly emphasized their work-from-home tools, with “some jokes circling about how the Google Meets option appears bigger every time you see it.”)
In theory, by joining Salesforce, Slack too can also reach a broader audience. As Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield wrote in letter to employees, “Their scale will propel us forward.”
But if rollups of collaboration tools are the path forward in the space—then who will be the next acquiree? Here’s my colleague, Robert Hackett, on the topic:
“Analysts expect Salesforce’s move to spur competitors—from Microsoft and Google to Oracle and SAP—to make big moves of their own in the so-called cloud collaboration industry. Earlier this month Adobebought work management firm Workfront for $1.5 billion.
It’s a trend Index Ventures Partner Sarah Cannon alluded to me back in May. Workplace collaboration an incredibly competitive space, and while the rare companies will be able to go it alone—as Zoom has managed—others may do better as features rather than full-out companies. Here’s the relevant excerpt of our chat:
“I think there will be a consolidation of a few tools. I was like, I think it is going to be Zoom, and Slack, and Notion, and I think it may be Airtable. Talk about the Balkanization of productivity tools—you could spend days interviewing the founders of productivity companies, and they all sound the same. So at the end of this, there are going to be a few that we choose to use.
I think we’ll see more consolidation and we’ll see market leaders being revealed.”
THE NASDAQ CALLS FOR MORE BOARD DIVERSITY: The tech and biotech-heavy stock exchange proposed new rules Tuesday that could potentially delist companies that lack at least one director that is female and another that identifies either as an underrepresented minority or as a member of the LGBTQ community. It would be no small overhaul: About 75% of companies listed through the exchange fail to meet the criteria, per the New York Times. Granted, the rule still needs to be approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission, and, after said approval, companies have as much as five years to fulfill those rules. Companies that fear that they cannot meet those requirements can avoid delisting by explaining publically why they were unable to fulfill those goals.
The rule would also require all companies listed on exchange to publicly disclose what it calls “consistent, transparent” diversity statistics regarding their board of directors.