Kiss my ASCII, Microsoft – we've got one million fewer daily active users than you, boasts Slack

Redmond's bundled group chat app draws fire from Slackville

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Several months after Microsoft crowed about how its Teams group chat app has reached 13 million daily active users, rival Slack has fired back with figures of its own.

The company, which went public in June and has seen its share price slide from its IPO debut at $38.50 per share to around $24 currently, has been sniping at Microsoft since the two became direct competitors three years ago. Back in November, 2016, when Microsoft announced Teams, Slack took out an ad in the New York Times to dismiss the effort.

On Thursday, Slack was back at it with a statistical counterpunch, timed to land just before its Spec developer conference later this month.

"In September 2019, we exceeded 12 million people actively using Slack every day – up approximately 37 per cent year over year," said Brian Elliott, VP and general manager of platform, in a blog post, adding that the company has over 6 million paid seats.

Elliot made no mention of Microsoft but Slack clearly has cause for concern about its rival in Redmond, and not just because Microsoft is said to have banned employees from using Slack's software. Elliot's post, "Not all Daily Active Users are created equal," is titled to imply that Microsoft's DAU count for Teams is somehow misleading.

Elliot offered up various other figures for consideration – 600,000 daily active registered developers, 1,800 apps in its app directory, and 500,000 custom apps active weekly in September – as a way of asserting Slack's continued relevance.

In a message from corporate comms personnel, however, the pushback against Microsoft was more overt. We're told 70 per cent of Slack's top 50 customers use Microsoft Office 365 with Slack's Office 365 integrations and Slack can support an unlimited number of users and channels in a workspace while Microsoft Teams maxes out at 5,000 users and 200 channels per workspace.

To understand Slack's concern, consider punditry like NYU Stern School of Business marketing professor Scott Galloway's recent video, "Could Microsoft Teams be the end of Slack?" To save you 8:41 in viewing time, let it suffice to say that Microsoft is aiming at Slack but isn't a sure shot.

Certainly, Teams misses the mark for some. You can find people who decry "The Horror of Microsoft Teams," people who hate it, and people who really hate it. But you can also find people who call it "an incredible product." And the fact that Microsoft bundles Teams with Office 365 ensures widespread distribution at least.

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"Teams is doing quite well," said Larry Cannell, a research director at IT consultancy Gartner, in an email to The Register. "Office 365 bundling helps Teams enormously. The biggest advantage is that Teams uses O365's infrastructure services (SSO, AD, security, retention, MDM etc.). Plus, it uses SharePoint for document collaboration (which, interestingly, unlocks co-editing capabilities in Word, Excel, etc.)."

Cannell said most of the Office 365 customers he has spoken with say that they're impressed with Teams. "For them, this isn't a wait-until-V3 Microsoft product of the past," he said. "Teams impressed from the start."

As for whether Teams will bury Slack, he said it's too soon to tell and there's still plenty of room for product improvements on both sides.

"Many want to talk about this like it's a horse race, but this competition is just starting," Cannell concluded. ®

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