Slack is a team messaging app that launched in 2013 and took off, now boasting 2.3 million daily active users. We caught up with company founder Stewart Butterfield at South by Southwest in Austin.
Despite his company’s quick growth, Butterfield is humbly cautious about the success of the product. He describes one of the app’s features, a built-in helper called “Slackbot,” as a “fairly stupid, but earnest robot that helps you get onboard on Slack. And that your team can later customize to add your own sayings and responses.”
Slack and Slackbot want to be your at-work, friendly, quirky assistants. Butterfield’s personal favorite customization is programming Slackbot to be a pedantic grammar expert, making suggestions when it detects user errors.
He says the goal is not to force yet another messaging application on you, but to consolidate work communications into one service. In other words, Slack’s an email killer.
“You look at your phone, there’s one icon there, you tap it, and it’s all the people you work with, and only the people you work with,” Butterfield said.
And it’s working. In a recent survey of its users, Slack found that the service reduced email volume by nearly half.