It’s the first major work day of the new year, and Slack is down. The workplace messaging app strapped up quickly in the early pandemic months as companies duked it out to capitalize on the shift towards remote work. And while 2020 was a red letter year for the company, which saw its stock nearly double at the end of the year after it was acquired by Salesforce for $27.7 billion, it was also a year marred by multiple outages just like today’s. 

Slack’s 2020 was defined as much by comparisons to rival Microsoft Teams as any of its own victories. Today’s outage is a symbolic and embarrassing show of weakness from a company that has failed to stand toe-to-toe with the success of Microsoft Teams and other workplace communications apps. In 2016, Slack penned an open letter to Microsoft after it launched teams, threatening that Slack was here to stay. But Slack is down, and Microsoft Teams is doing just fine — you can’t even read Slack’s old open letter because of the outage.

Slack’s landmark year is dwarfed by the growth of Microsoft Teams. Slack’s App Store rating count grew only 17.6% since March 25, 2020 (after the App Store purged old or bot reviews from several apps). Teams’ ratings grew a thunderous 257%, boasting over one million reviews to Slack’s 12,000. Users seem to prefer Teams, too — Slack’s rating sits at four stars while Teams has a full 5.

Microsoft Team’s wild success is largely driven by the service being bundled for free with Microsoft’s Office Suite, driving its user metrics through the roof. Slack filed a lawsuit against Microsoft last year claiming the bundling of Teams with the Office Suite was an antitrust violation.

Slack’s $27.7 billion acquisition at the hands of Salesforce was seen as a bet on CEO Marc Benioff’s part against Microsoft, which he’s long had a rivalry with. With a sudden cash infusion into a major competitor, Benioff perhaps hopes to be a thorn in Microsoft’s side and prevent Teams from getting a stranglehold on the workplace communication market. But our data — and today’s outage — shows that even with Salesforce resources and coffers, it may take years for Slack to grow to a comparable size.

Slack’s LinkedIn Headcount shows that the company’s workforce is growing at a much faster rate than Microsoft’s over the last four years — Slack’s workforce has increased by 1076% since 2016 as compared to Microsoft’s 38%. 

But a look at total numbers shows that Slack’s 2,800 employees are dwarfed by Microsoft’s massive workforce of 192,000. Not all of Microsoft’s employees are dedicated Teams, of course, but it goes to show the resources at Microsoft’s disposal. Even Salesforce only has 47,000 employees, by comparison.

Slack’s repeated outages, and on today of all days, may be a grim foreshadowing for the company’s fate in its battle against Microsoft Teams, even with its hands in Salesforce’s pockets. Slack will have to pull itself together and find a competitive edge, or hope for a miracle in court. At least the tweets have been funny.

About the Data:

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online, jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings, and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.

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