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  1. Slack is rolling out a new scheduled send feature No more midnight messages Slack has announced a new Scheduled Send feature that the company is starting to roll out today, which — as the name implies — will let users schedule messages to send at a later time and date. The scheduled send feature adds a new drop-down arrow to the green “send message” button in Slack’s desktop app. Clicking it will reveal a new menu that allows for scheduling a message to send to a room, direct message, or group thread later on. Mobile users will be able to access a similar menu by long-pressing on the send button in the Slack app on Android and iOS. Slack will offer both pre-filled options (like “tomorrow morning at 9:00AM”) as well as the ability to set a custom date and time to send a message. Messages can be scheduled up to to 120 days in advance, and users will be able to reschedule, edit, or delete scheduled messages before they’re sent. “Today we launched Scheduled Send to empower users to communicate and collaborate in a way that works best for them,” the company announced in a statement, explaining that “teams shouldn’t be obligated to sync their schedules in order to communicate effectively.” The ability to schedule messages is a critical one given the various time zones and locations that offices — both remote, in-person, and hybrid — stretch across in today’s work world. And while email services like Gmail have offered the ability to schedule emails for later (so that users aren’t pinging teams at odd hours or getting messages lost overnight), the feature has been notably absent from Slack until now. Slack is rolling out a new scheduled send feature
  2. Slack Connect opens DMs to people outside of your company Slack is adding the ability to direct message users at other companies, with Slack Connect paring back some of the separation between different teams. It’s the latest attempt by the popular business messaging platform – which Salesforce is currently in the process of acquiring for $27.7 billion – to oust email from the office. Slack became a darling of workplaces well before the pandemic forced remote working to go widespread. Consisting of a different rooms for group discussions, smaller conversations for teams, and individual messaging between users, it aimed to cut down on unnecessary and unwieldy email chains as well as make conversations more real-time. Slack Connect looks to do that but more broadly. “Designed to replace email outside your company, Slack Connect allows you to work with external organizations with the same speed and security you’ve come to expect with Slack,” the company said today. It’s in part a response to the growing recognition that post-pandemic workplaces won’t look the same as they did before, and that distributed teams are going to need new tools not only to collaborate within companies, but with partner businesses too. Slack Connect will allow up to 20 organizations to work together in the same space. Each organization taking part will have control over its own data, and later this year there’ll be the ability to link those organizations into a “private business network.” That will include unified directories of contacts, tighter with channel discovery and other features. The most obvious feature addition will be the ability to send direct messages to someone not on your team. You’ll be able to send a Slack invite to a partner and – once they accept it – start messaging as though they’re in your own company. Slack Connect DM invitations will be expanded to all teams, the company says, including those using free plans, soon. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the new feature hasn’t been met with universal acclaim. Slack – among other workplace messaging features that put ubiquity at the top of their priorities – has been blamed for helping establish unrealistic work expectations, with employees often feeling they need to be checking their channels and messages outside of business hours. There have also been cases of harassment carried out over workplace messaging tools, and the fact that employers can access chat logs has also been criticized. According to Slack, there’ll be systems in place to prevent misuse. “Admins can already designate which users or which workspaces have access to Slack Connect,” the company says. “Soon, admins will also be able to restrict the behaviors of members from partner organizations, such as inviting others and installing apps.” In short, while cross-company DMs may be possible, your admin team will need to enable support for them first, and it’s not going to necessarily be a free-for-all of invitations. Source: Slack Connect opens DMs to people outside of your company
  3. How to Use Slack Without Driving Your Coworkers Crazy Many of us use it at work, but here are some tips on how to make Slack work for you. (Stop. Hitting. Enter. So. Often.) Whether you’ve been working from home for a decade or have been thrust into the remote office for the first time, navigating the minefield of text-only communication can be dense, difficult, and draining. Slack is the go-to communication program for many remote offices, but used improperly, you could end up unintentionally annoying all your coworkers. “Digital communication is much more challenging than physical communication, because it lacks the ability to really transfer tone well,” explains Elaine Swann, etiquette expert and founder of the Swann School of Protocol. “The inflections in our voice get lost, and we're not able to hear or emphasize body language that sometimes speaks louder than words.” Couple that with notification overload and water cooler talk spamming your work channels, and you’re bound to get a little frustrated with your colleague’s Slack usage—or vice versa. If you’re new to an organization, it helps to go through the Slack history to see what the style is—do people joke around a lot? Do casual conversations mix with work, or do people use a lot of emoji? That’ll get you a long way to feeling like part of the in crowd. But above all else, there are a few best practices you should follow to avoid driving people nuts. Reply in Threads When Possible, and Turn On Notifications If Necessary When the creative juices are flowing, you’ll likely have multiple conversations happening at once in a given channel. The Threads feature in Slack allows you to organize the chaos. “As someone who has a love/hate relationship with the red notification bubble, when colleagues properly use the Thread feature it reduces notifications for conversations that don't need my attention,” says Natalie Schoen, a senior media strategist at communications and marketing agency BAM. “Should my attention end up being needed in a specific thread, simply @ me in.” (This also cuts down on @here and @channel, one of the most oft-scorned tools in the Slack arsenal.) To start a thread, just hover over a message and click the Reply as Thread button. Threads allow the conversation to continue without intermingling with other ongoing discussions, especially if only a few people are involved—or if some are in different time zones. Plus, they’re more searchable, since you can find the entire conversation attached to a keyword instead of just a single message. I find, however, that I often forget a thread exists if I don’t get notifications when new messages were posted in it. So head to Preferences > Notifications and check Notify Me About Replies to Threads if you find yourself falling behind. One Long DM Is Better Than Many Short DMs Speaking of notification spam, consider your direct messages (DMs) more carefully. “We have a tendency, digitally, to speak in a more clipped manner,” says Swann. “Rather than sending five short messages back to back, take a moment, collect your thoughts, and say what you're going to say in one longer statement.” It’s easy to type as you think, but your recipient’s phone is going to start dinging off the hook, which is really distracting. Try to treat those initial DMs a bit more like you would an email—and be patient for your response, in case your coworker is busy. Let Everyone Know Your Status With an Icon On the surface, Slack seems like a synchronous communication tool, like the chat rooms and IM programs of old. But you can’t always expect a reply right away—if someone’s in a meeting or out of the office, you’ll end up distracting them with notifications and waiting for an answer that may not come. Kay-Kay Clapp, director of content at the repair site iFixit, is very in-demand in her department—I know, I used to work with her. She helped manage expectations by keeping her status updated in Slack regularly. You can change your Slack status by clicking your workspace in the upper left corner and clicking the Update Your Status box—it has a few default options like “Out Sick” and “In a Meeting,” but you can create a status for anything you want. “We use food emojis to call out our lunch breaks, cameras to let people know when we’re busy filming, and so on,” she tells me. “If you use the Google Calendar plug-in, your Slack status emoji can even change automatically when you’re in meetings.” Short Approvals Only Need an Emoji Reaction I always debate whether to clutter up a conversation with short approvals like “okay” or “sounds good” instead of tacitly implying agreement with silence. Not everyone agrees on the best way to handle this over email, but Slack has you covered with emoji reactions: Just hover over a message and click the Add Reaction button on the right-hand side. “As a manager, nothing’s worse than dropping a perfectly crafted message into Slack and getting back crickets,” Clapp says. “A ✅ makes it easy for me to see that the team has read my administrative updates. As a human, emoji reactions are a nice reminder that your coworkers are still listening and engaged.” (Plus, you can create custom emoji reactions to keep things fun.) There’s a fine line with emoji, though. While they can help replace some of that missing tone and body language, it’s also easy to go crazy. “A wink emoji or a simple smile can go a long way towards being clear, but I've known people who overdo it—sometimes with an emoji almost every other word in a long paragraph,” says Melanie Pinola, a staff writer at Wirecutter who used to manage a fully remote team at Zapier. “It makes understanding the message harder (and it's annoying too).” Fill Out Your Profile, Not Just Your Name Without random office bump-ins, it’s harder to get to know coworkers outside your department—which is rough when you need their help. “Fill out your profile as much as possible,” says Pinola, “with your department and title, local time, phone number, work hours, pronouns, etc. This helps other people know when you can best be reached and make you seem less like a stranger.” And for heaven’s sake, use your real name and a profile image—it’s a lot easier on your coworkers if they aren’t messaging a squiggly line named c00ldawg76. Filling out profiles was a key part of Zapier’s Slack best practices, Pinola tells me, which they posted publicly and sent to every new hire—a great bonus tip if your organization doesn’t have a resource like this already. Create, Join, and Mute Channels Liberally If you only have a couple of channels, they’re destined to get cluttered with conversations your coworkers don’t want to see. Schoen notes that while her company has used Slack for a while, they obviously started using it a lot more when everyone went remote in March, which caused some growing pains. “In the beginning, we shared a lot of COVID-19 related news in the company-wide #IndustryNews channel, but over time the flood of pandemic news became too much for everyone’s mental health,” she explains. “As a result, we created a #Coronavirus channel that teammates could opt into if they wanted to be more on top of the news throughout the day.” You can mute any channel with a right-click, and won’t see when it has new messages unless someone specifically calls you out with @. Your company may have its own rules when it comes to creating channels—who’s allowed to do so, under what circumstances you should, and whether they should stick to certain naming conventions that keep fun separated from work. So check your organization’s policies before creating channels willy-nilly. And if your company doesn’t lay these out, ask them if it’s okay to split a busy channel, or delete ones that aren’t necessary anymore. Keep Yourself Sane With Do Not Disturb, and Encourage Others to Do the Same Sometimes, I remember something at 8 pm and want to send it before I forget in the morning—but don’t want to bother the other person after hours. One of my previous employers stressed that everyone should use Do Not Disturb during non-work, so that the rest of us can feel free to message at anytime—eliminating the need for email. You can set your Do Not Disturb settings from Preferences > Notifications > Notification Schedule—I allow notifications from 7 am to 7 pm, but you might opt to turn them off as soon as your workday is done. Slack still lets your coworkers push a notification through Do Not Disturb if it’s truly urgent. Know When to Use Something Other Than Slack While Slack bills itself as a one-stop-everything-shop for your company, some things are better left to other tools. While Swann notes that you can use text to convey tone when necessary—adding parentheticals like “(so and so is really on my back about this)” or “(I want to make sure we don't end up on the low end of the totem pole this time)”—sometimes, it’s better to just hop on a call. A five-minute phone conversation can often be a lot easier than a 15-minute Slack conversation. Finally, remember that some conversations shouldn’t be on a shared platform at all. “Be mindful of when you're sending messages, and who you're sending them to and who sees them,” says Swann. “It happens so often: someone's complaining about another person but it accidentally goes to every single person on the thread. Double-check yourself always.” Or better yet, she says, just stop talking about people behind their backs at work—especially in writing. Teamwork platforms have been hacked in the past, so treat your Slack as if all your messages might become public one day. It never hurts to be cautious. How to Use Slack Without Driving Your Coworkers Crazy
  4. The acquisition sets up a showdown with Microsoft and its Teams platform over the future of collaboration and digital work. The grand plan is to combine Slack Connect and Salesforce Customer 360. Salesforce said it will acquire Slack in an all-stock deal valued at $27.7 billion, as the company aims to expand its footprint more into collaboration and workflows. Slack will essentially become the front end to Salesforce's Customer 360 efforts. The acquisition, which leaked last week, sets up a showdown with Microsoft and its Teams platform. Salesforce and Microsoft also compete in CRM (Dynamics vs. Sales Cloud) and analytics (Tableau vs. PowerBI). Under the terms of the agreement, Slack shareholders will receive $26.79 in cash and 0.0776 shares of Salesforce common stock for each Slack share. In a statement, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said the plan is to combine Slack with Salesforce Customer 360. On a conference call, Benioff added: This is the next generation of the Customer 360. This is our ultimate vision of having this incredible user interface on top of all of these services with all these channels and all the collaboration running on all these devices and integration, interactions. We see in Slack a once-in-a-generation company platform. It's the central nervous system of so many companies on this call and our company and so many of our great customers, connecting everyone and everything, and now we could go even bigger, better, more exciting. And it brings all the companies, people, the data, the tools together. And you can see all the CRM information, the sales the customer interactions. You also saw Slack Connect, which extends the benefit of Slack so employees can securely work and collaborating with partners, suppliers, customers. For Salesforce, the Customer 360 link with Slack Connect, which enables enterprises and partners to collaborate, is compelling. The Slack purchase won't be Salesforce's first foray into collaboration. Salesforce launched Chatter in 2009, bought Quip in 2016, and just rolled out Salesforce Anywhere. Stewart Butterfield, Slack CEO, said the Salesforce acquisition is "the most strategic combination in the history of software." Benioff noted that he has been talking about the social enterprise for a long time, but thinks the Slack deal brings the original vision to life. I think these collaborative interfaces and video-based interface is sort of the next major moment in our industry. But underneath those services, you have so many rich services, application, integrations, artificial intelligence, and fundamentally, big fata lakes. How can you take all of that and bring it to the user to the power professional to the worker to the knowledge user or even to the CEO and turn it into a powerful experience? According to Slack's third quarter release, the company had more than 64,000 paid customers using Slack Connect in the third quarter, up from 52,000 in the second quarter. There are more than 520,000 connected endpoints on Slack Connect. Slack's ability to bridge companies and partners via its Slack Connect would be critical to Salesforce, which has Customer 360 but largely stays within the confines of the enterprise. Salesforce's purchase of Slack gives it more heft vs. Microsoft and plays in a broader theme of Salesforce as the connector on multiple fronts such as applications (MuleSoft), analytics (Tableau), and collaboration (Slack). The competitive landscape The Salesforce-Slack deal lands as the competitive landscape is shifting across multiple categories. Sales and service have gone virtual amid the COVID-19 pandemic and will largely remain that way. Yes, folks, travel budgets for sales teams aren't going to come all the way back amid remote work. In addition, Salesforce's biggest CRM rivals have collaboration platforms. Microsoft has Teams and its integration with Office 365 and a platform play. And Adobe just acquired Workfront and can integrate that project management platform with its clouds. Communication and customer experiences are merging: Note that Twilio's $3.2 billion purchase of Segment illustrates the trend. The competitive axis in CRM is Microsoft with partners like Adobe and C3.ai vs. Salesforce. For Slack, Salesforce will give it more heft to compete with Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, and a host of other players in video conferencing like Zoom that could add messaging. Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives said Salesforce's acquisition of Slack is about keeping pace with Microsoft and Teams, developing a broader cloud platform approach and acknowledging that collaboration software will be a key category even when employees return to the office in some form. But the biggest item that pushed the Salesforce-Slack deal was Microsoft, said Ives in a research note: The core reason for this deal in our opinion is to keep pace with the cloud behemoth in Redmond. Microsoft with its Azure/Office 365 cloud stack and Teams enterprise messaging solution set has dominated the cloud over the past few years and accelerated its growth during this COVID-19 backdrop. With Salesforce having a treadmill approach to collaboration software with its Chatter solution and its 2016 acquisition of Quip gaining minimal traction, it was "now or never" to do a deal for Benioff. Slack despite facing stiff competition from Microsoft has been a clearly successful solution set further penetrating enterprises and thus looks like the natural fit for Salesforce to beef up its collaboration and messaging footprint and keep pace with Nadella & Co. with its cloud dominance. Here's a look at Salesforce's core clouds and growth trends. The plan At a high level, the companies said the combination is about the future of work, revamping workflows, data and connecting customers, employees, and partners. On a more concrete level, Slack becomes the new interface for Customer 360. The companies said: Slack will be deeply integrated into every Salesforce Cloud. As the new interface for Salesforce Customer 360, Slack will transform how people communicate, collaborate and take action on customer information across Salesforce as well as information from all of their other business apps and systems to be more productive, make smarter, faster decisions and create connected customer experiences. Salesforce will also leverage Slack's open platform, which integrates more than 2,400 apps. Salesforce said the companies combined will have a strong developer ecosystem. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of Salesforce's fiscal second quarter. Bret Taylor, president and operating chief of Salesforce, said Slack will remain independent but there are areas where joint customers will benefit. The integration playbook for Slack will rhyme with what Salesforce accomplished with MuleSoft and Tableau. Taylor said: I think our philosophy is very similar to our philosophy with MuleSoft and Tableau, which is, number one, starting with our mutual customers and starting for how can we help every one of our customers benefit from the combination of these two technologies. If you look at the happiest customers who use Slack, it is really that central nervous system for their company. And that's really connecting every single application at their company, not just applications from Salesforce. So that really is balancing, making sure Slack has an independent brand and continues to serve every single company and integrates with every single system at your company while also making sure that it really achieved that vision that Marc talked about, which is it really becomes sort of the user interface for the Customer 360. Third quarter results for Salesforce and Slack Salesforce also reported fiscal third quarter results and initiated fiscal 2022 revenue, which will include about $600 million in revenue from Slack. The company reported third quarter revenue of $5.42 billion, up 20% from a year ago. Earnings for the quarter were $1.15 a share and $1.74 non-GAAP. Wall Street was expecting third quarter revenue of $5.25 billion and non-GAAP earnings of 75 cents a share. For the fourth quarter, Salesforce projected revenue of $5.66 billion to $5.67 billion, up about 17% from a year ago. Non-GAAP earnings will be between 73 cents a share to 74 cents a share. For fiscal 2021, Salesforce is projecting $21.10 billion to $21.1 billion in revenue. For fiscal 2022, Salesforce is projecting revenue between $25.45 billion and $25.5 billion. In some respects, Salesforce is buying growth. Slack, which reported its third quarter results, said it added 12,000 net new paid customers. The company ended the quarter with 142,000 paid customers, up 35% from a year ago. The company reported fiscal third quarter revenue of $234.5 million, up 39% from a year ago, with non-GAAP earnings of a penny a share. Slack reported a net loss of 12 cents a share. Slack also said it had 1,080 customers spending more than $100,000 annually. Source
  5. All the Ways Slack Tracks You—and How to Stop It From changing privacy settings to putting limits on those infuriating notifications, here’s how to take control of Slack. Illustration: Elena Lacey The global remote work experiment shows no sign of ending anytime soon. As Europe struggles to contain a deadly second wave of Covid-19, many forward-looking companies have confirmed that their employees will largely be working from home for at least the first quarter of 2021. That means that Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom will continue to dominate the lives of office workers. As you settle down for a long, cold winter of trying to ignore Slack, it’s important to get things in order. From changing privacy settings to putting some limits on those infuriating notifications, here’s how to get some control over Slack. Slack’s Data Collection Slack’s business model is very different from the tracking- and advertising-heavy setups of Google and Facebook. Slack makes money by selling premium-tier subscriptions, though there are also free accounts that have limits placed upon them. But that doesn’t mean Slack doesn’t collect a lot of your data; everything it does collect is listed in its privacy policy. The data Slack gathers will either be information that’s voluntarily given to it (names, emails, messages, and more) or information that’s automatically generated through just using Slack. Slack collects information about when and how you use its platform. This can be the device and operating system you’re logging in from, your IP address, the webpage you visited before opening Slack in your browser, the types of files you share, and more. Slack may also get some information about you based on what third-party services—for example, Google Drive or Calendar—you connect to it. However, what information is shared is based on each privacy policy What Your Boss Can and Can’t See Part of Slack’s success comes from it being a useful store of information—quick updates and messages, which can later be searched and revisited, don’t have to clog up an email inbox anymore. Key to this is Slack not deleting anything. Ever. “By default, Slack never deletes your messages or files, so they’re always accessible,” the company says. (This also applies to free accounts, but only a certain number of messages are searchable). Control of the messages you send is given to the workspace owner—in most cases this will be your employer. Slack says that it has strict measures, tools, and audits in place to stop employees from accessing messages and other company information. Workspace owners can decide how long messages are stored for and set limits on what information can and can’t be accessed by your employer in the future. There’s the option for a workspace admin to select messages and files to be automatically deleted after a set amount of time. This can be customized by each channel or direct messages. It’s possible to see your company’s Slack data-retention settings by heading to [Slack channel name].slack.com/account/workspace-settings#retention. There are also controls on who can access messages within a company. Slack says conversation data can be exported in some circumstances—such as conducting investigations into harassment, following court orders for disclosure, requests under GPDR’s subject access rights, or for audits. How data is extracted can depend on the type of Slack subscription a company has (if any). It’s possible to check what your company’s settings are for data exports at the bottom of the page on the URL above. Typically it’s possible for workspace owners to export messages and files that are shared in public channels. These are exported as text logs, not in the typical Slack user interface. It gets harder for someone to export your messages and files once they’re in private channels or DMs. In these instances a workspace owner must contact Slack and apply for permission to export the data. Slack can grant an owner permission to use a “self-serve data export tool.” “Each org owner must ensure that (a) appropriate employment agreements and corporate policies have been implemented, and (b) all use of business exports is permitted under applicable law,” the company says in its guidance on exports. It’s possible for anyone on Slack to see how much a person uses it. The analytics page [Slack channel name].slack.com/stats shows how many messages have been sent on a workspace and the most popular public channels. It is also possible to search for individual people and see how many messages they’ve sent in the last 30 days and for how many of those days they’ve been active. Boost Security Slack has a pretty good record when it comes to data breaches. In March 2015, when the company had just half a million daily users, it was hacked, and some user data was compromised. Since then, no other hacks have been reported. The biggest risk for many people using Slack is bad passwords and a lack of two-factor authentication. By using common, repeated passwords, accounts are vulnerable when passwords from previous data breaches are used. Failing to use a password manager could put an entire company at risk. Turning on Slack’s two-factor authentication will also help to protect accounts. While good password management and two-factor can help, it’s also worth considering what you’re sharing on Slack. Operational security is key—you should think about what you’re sharing and with whom. When you add a new person to a Slack channel, they can see past messages and files, including any gossip about them. You should also consider whether Slack is the appropriate platform for the messages you’re sending. If you wouldn’t say something out loud at a meeting with a colleague, you probably shouldn’t be sharing it on Slack. Even private channels and DMs could eventually have their messages revealed during a legal case or other similar types of investigation. If you really need to send that bitchy message during these times of remote working, it may be worth considering a different, encrypted platform. Or really, just not saying it at all. Fix Notifications Finally, if you’re spending time going over Slack’s privacy settings, you should really sort out your notifications. You’re probably already getting more Slack notifications than you need—especially if you’ve still, for some reason, got email notifications turned on. In the app’s settings and preferences menu, you can alter what you get notifications about: all new messages, direct messages, mentions, and keywords are the options. These can also be adapted for mobile, so you only get the notifications that matter when you’re on your phone. You can also set periods where notifications aren’t sent. In the settings menu you can set up the option to pause notifications between certain times of the day. This will stop messages coming through when you’re not working—allowing a little separation between sitting in your working chair and sitting in your non-working chair. This story originally appeared on WIRED UK. All the Ways Slack Tracks You—and How to Stop It
  6. Slack down: Office chat app goes down as people arrive back at work Slack has stopped working properly, just as many people head back into their real and virtual offices after the break. Users were unable to reliably send or receive messages, with chats appearing to work and then getting stuck. Text would appear to send but then show as grey within the chat, indicating that it had not actually been delivered. Tracking website Down Detector showed a spike in reports of problems with the messaging app. Some parts of Slack’s website also appeared to be inaccessible. But the company’s official Twitter account and server status page did not immediately register any issues. It was later updated to make clear the company was aware of the issue and working on a fix. “Customers may experience issues connecting to Slack to loading channels at this time. Our team is on the case and we will keep you posted,” Slack wrote on Twitter. "Apologies for any disruption." Slack – along with competitors such as Zoom and Microsoft’s Teams suite – have become a central part of working through lockdown, as workplaces look to allow their staff to communicate while being discouraged from going into offices. That means that any outage can have immediate and considerable effect, with employees unable to communicate as usual. Source: Slack down: Office chat app goes down as people arrive back at work
  7. While Microsoft and Slack continue to battle it out at the top of the collaboration software market, a variety of forces could re-shape that fight in the year ahead. The booming team collaboration market is likely to continue booming in 2019 as companies roll out chat apps more widely across their operations. With Microsoft leveraging the ubiquity of its Office suite to push Teams, and Slack doubling down on its still-evolving enterprise push, the two leaders in the market are likely to continue to try and one-up each other in the search for new customers. At the same time, a host of other firms, from Facebook to Google, Cisco and more, will continue to build out their own team chat platforms. IDC, by the way, expects the collaboration market to generate $3.5 billion in revenues in the year ahead, up from $2.9 billion in 2018. With that background in mind, here are some of the key trends analysts expect to see in 2019 when it comes to collaboration software. Slack to ramp up enterprise push as IPO looms 2019 is set to be a significant year for Slack, with expectations rising for a Goldman Sachs-backed IPO on top of what has already been a busy 12 months. Slack in the past year has undertaken a string of acquisitions that expand the reach of its platform and continued to build on its enterprise-readiness, adding various features such as enhanced analytics, enterprise key management and a speedier desktop app. But Slack has more to do, according to Raúl Castañón Martínez, senior analyst at 451 Research. “For Slack…, [the priority] is to continue expanding their customer base with Enterprise Grid,” he said. “Their customer base is still very much along the lines of how they started, which is [deployment by] teams within a larger organization, or with smaller organizations.” [ Become a Microsoft Office 365 administrator in record time with this quick start course from PluralSight. ] Given Slack’s interest in more wide-scale deployments across large enterprises, “I think they are still not where they would like to be.” Adding shared channels for Enterprise Grid customers is a priority, said Angela Ashenden, Principal Analyst at CCS Insight. Though the feature is currently available for Slack's core product, technical challenges have delayed a wider launch so far. “The challenge for Slack is to create a story that allows it to be supported at an enterprise level. A lot of that is going to be around security and scalability and how they handle cross-organization collaboration, as in organization-to-organization collaboration,” she said. Slack also still has limitations in terms of its cloud hosting locations. “That has to be one of the big things to sort out [in 2019] if they want to support enterprise. It is still U.S.-only for hosting for Slack, which is a big limitation for them,” said Ashenden. Microsoft Teams gains ground; will it be more than a Skype for Business replacement? Two years after its unveiling, Microsoft Teams has firmly established itself as a real rival to Slack. In the past 12 months, Teams has essentially replaced Skype for Business Online as Microsoft's central communications tool, and a free version is now available - a clear swipe at Slack, which has had sustained success with its freemium model. The app is now used by 329,000 organizations worldwide, Microsoft said during its 2018 Ignite conference, up from 125,000 a year earlier. (That’s still some way behind the 500,000 organizations touted by Slack.) Thanks to Teams’ inclusion within the Office 365 product suite, it is likely a matter of time before Teams is the most widely used team chat app – though just how often it is actually used remains a cause of debate. Unlike Slack, Microsoft doesn't break out daily active user figures. A recent Spiceworks' report claims that Teams is set for the fastest growth of all business chat apps over the next two years. The survey indicates that 41% of respondents expect to use Teams by 2020, compared to 18% for Slack. There is plenty of room for improvement for Teams, too. Ashenden stressed that Microsoft can do more to encourage users to coordinate team work within the app. “They have a massive penetration with Teams, but the problem is that a lot of that is Office 365 driven numbers. So it is being chosen by IT, but it is not necessarily being used by employees. Furthermore, Teams in many cases is being used as a replacement for Skype for Business rather than for its team chat capabilities. “I think that over time that will start to become a bit of a challenge,” Ashenden said. “So they have to look at what it was originally designed for, the 'teams' piece of it, and develop that so that it is more competitive.” She added that more can be done to integrate Teams into a user's workflow, which would require more third-party integrations and process automation “They have some of the piece in there with things like Flow, but at the moment it is a bit too challenging to do,” she said. “If they don't go down that route, Teams will just be a replacement for Skype and if you want do all of those processes then you look to Slack. That will be the big priority that I would expect them to be working on next year.” Ashenden sees a wider trend towards automation, as indicated by Slack’s acquisition of Missions and Trello’s recent purchase of Butler. “Automation of personal workflows is a trend that we're seeing escalate rapidly in the enterprise collaboration space, with a recognition that collaboration technology needs to better fit into our way of working, rather than the other way around,” she said. Team collaboration/unified communications overlap Microsoft Teams reached “feature parity” with Skype for Business Online this year, essentially bringing unified communications (UC) capabilities to its team chat product. It has also added AI capabilities such as background blur and cloud transcription aimed at making users more comfortable with video. “The popularity of video chat, whether you like it or not, is making its way into office norms,” said Wayne Kurtzman, a research director at IDC. “The video and audio is getting better, and easier to use,” he said. “Expect more announcements around AI integration with video calls such as transcription, smart playback and task assignment.” Castañón Martínez expects the team collaboration/UC overlap to continue and that could mean trouble for UC vendors, many of which have also developed their own team chat tools. “There is definitely a shift from unified communications into team collaboration,” Castañón Martínez said. “I don't think that the strategy of some of the UC players is necessarily working to counter that, so the question I think is how much more will team collaboration keep chipping away from UC.” He believes that some businesses could start to question whether they need unified communications for all their staff when they could simply rely instead on a tool such as Slack. “There are some companies that because of the nature of their business, could be well suited for that,” Castañón Martínez said, such as startups or digital native companies. “Not just because they tend to be more tech-savvy or tech-oriented than other companies, but mainly because of the type of workers. If they have a higher percentage of knowledge workers, and they are in a stage where they might have a strong employee base of engineers and developers, it just makes sense because that is how they communicate. So, I think that we might see some shift in that sense.” Market consolidation? Or opportunity for all? Atlassian’s Stride app was the first major chat app to fall away from a fast-growing market that has seen an array of offerings emerge from vendors – both large and small – in recent years. This could be a sign of changing dynamics. “The fact that even Atlassian, with all of its experience in the team chat space, decided that it is not somewhere it wanted to play is quite telling,” said Ashenden. “So we can expect to see more – consolidation is a big word – but more exits, let’s say.” Castañón Martínez was referring to the decision in July by Atlassian to dump Stride and urge users to move to Slack. The decision caught Stride users off-guard, and eventually prompted Atlassian co-CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes to apologize. One possible scenario: acquisitions. Ashenden noted that Slack acquiring task management app Asana is one such potential deal that would make sense, allowing Slack to play a greater in role in the management as well as communications around workplace productivity. Acquiring Asana could be a better fit than building out its own features, she said. “It would make more sense to partner with someone that already does it well and has a good audience,” she said. “And Asana, for me, that looks like the most likely option, because they already have strong integrations in place, they are one of the primary partners, they have a lot of common customers between the two companies. They have similar cultures as well …, which always makes a huge difference, so I think that would be logical.” That said, as the market continues to grow, it is not a winner-takes-all world; there is opportunity for a variety of vendors. “The team collaboration market still has a lot of room to grow. That means that there is an opportunity for other vendors, not just Slack,” said Castañón Martínez. He points to relatively untapped segments of the workforce, such as frontline workers, who often rely on consumer tools to communicate and collaborate. “Slack – and team collaboration in general – is mainly for knowledge workers and that is a specific segment. There are many, many other workers out there, and in terms of volume there are more service workers than knowledge workers,” he said. “So I think it is just getting started. I don't discount other competitors that Slack has, even if they are much smaller right now; they could grow and become real challengers.” And still, the future is bright for email Claims that team chat tools would replace email appear to premature – for now, at least. According to Spiceworks’ survey, only 16% of IT professionals believe chat apps will replace email within three to five years. That’s compared to 25% who made the same prediction back in 2016. So while Slack might be pinning its hopes on channels becoming the most common method of business communication, its acquisition of Astro is aimed at helping it build out its own email management capabilities, letting users reply to emails without switching between apps. It was not the only company to acquire email capabilities; Facebook Workplace snapped up RedKix. “It’s not quite dead yet,” said Kurtzman. “Expect new ways to leverage emails in a team environment.” source
  8. The big winner in Slack’s Microsoft fight could be Google Slack is about to face even greater competition SlackSlack surprised Microsoft with a competition complaint in Europe yesterday. After arguing for months that Microsoft Teams isn’t a true competitor to Slack and is more akin to Zoom, Slack finally admitted what was clear all along: Microsoft Teams is a competitor, and Slack is finding it hard to compete with Microsoft. It’s not a surprising admission, but if Slack is finding it hard to compete with Microsoft, then it’s going to face even greater headaches once Google finally gets its act together. After fumbling with communications apps for years, there are early signs that Google is now ready to take on Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom. Google’s enterprise play has huge implications for Slack’s EU antitrust bid — and the company’s future beyond it. Slack looks set to face two giant tech companies leveraging their dominant products to take a big slices of the workplace communications business. If Slack manages to convince the EU to take action against Microsoft’s bundling, it still faces the looming threat of Google bundling its own apps and services in a similar way. And for antitrust crusaders, G Suite shows that the bundling problem is much bigger than Microsoft. Slack’s competition complaint, published yesterday, is targeted solely at Microsoft and focused on the company’s bundling of Teams with its Office 365 subscription. “What we’re asking for is that Teams be separated from the Office suite and be sold separately with a fair commercial price tag associated with it so it competes on the merit with our product,” explained David Schellhase, Slack’s legal chief, in a call with reporters yesterday. “It really is as simple and straightforward as that.” Slack for IPhone. Microsoft has bundled a variety of productivity apps with its Office suite for decades, and it chose to bundle Teams free to Office 365 customers when it launched back in 2016. This bundling, alongside tight Office integration, has made it hard for Slack to convince businesses that are already paying for Office to pay extra to get Slack. But Google looks set to replicate that tactic. G Suite, which includes regular Gmail users, passed 2 billion active users earlier this year, and G Suite’s new boss, Javier Soltero, said at the time that “changing the way people work is something we are uniquely positioned to do.” Soltero arrived at Google recently after a four-year career at Microsoft, a company he joined originally when the software giant acquired Acompli, which later became Outlook for iOS. He’s already demonstrated his expertise for spotting trends and filling the gaps with apps and services that were good enough for Microsoft to acquire. If he can repeat this at Google, then Slack has another giant competitor ready to bundle and leverage its popular communications and productivity apps. Google has already shown signs it’s moving toward catching up with Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Slack. Google made Meet free earlier this year to try to compete with Zoom’s sudden popularity, and it has started integrating the videoconferencing app deeply into Gmail and Google Calendar. The next step toward true Slack and Teams competition is Google’s early work toward integrating Google Chat, Rooms, and Meet into Gmail. This won’t arrive until later this year, but it’s clearly a big priority at Google. Google Meet Gmail integration. If Google can truly execute here and provide a more coherent communications platform that merges email, chat, and video calls into a single experience, then that’s as big a threat to Slack as well as Microsoft Teams. Slack didn’t have a good answer to the looming threat of Google, and why Google’s bundling approach is less of a threat than Microsoft’s. “Google and Microsoft are different,” says Schellhase, responding to a question about why Microsoft’s work with Teams is different from Google’s recent approach. “Microsoft has a dominant position with the Office productivity suite and all of the ancillary software. There’s no law against having a dominant position, but there are laws about how companies that have dominant market share have to behave. One thing they cannot do is tie a new independent product to the dominant product that they’ve got.” If you look at the raw numbers between Google and Microsoft’s reach or dominance, Office is used by around 1.2 billion people, and Google says G Suite is used by 2 billion. The key difference between these numbers is that the vast majority of people who are using Office are using it as part of a work license or subscription, whereas the overwhelming majority of what Google calls G Suite users are the approximately 1.5 billion Gmail users who probably aren’t all using the service for work. So far, Google hasn’t focused on leveraging those free users into enterprise clients — but when it starts, it could become a major player overnight. Microsoft dominates the workplace with Office, but Google clearly dominates consumer usage of email, search, and with services like YouTube. Google’s free services are used for work, too. This is especially true in education, where G Suite and Chromebooks continue to take over classrooms across the US. Google’s ability to bundle and integrate Meet free with Gmail should still be a cause for concern for Slack, even if the company isn’t willing to admit that or fight that battle just yet. It’s still not clear whether the European Commission will even formally investigate Slack’s complaint. We likely have months of uncertainty until a decision is made, and these are keys months ahead for Microsoft, Google, Slack, Zoom, and many others fighting for how businesses and students communicate. “We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella back in April. Businesses have been flocking to services like Microsoft Teams and Zoom during the pandemic. While Microsoft Teams overtook Slack usage with 13 million daily users a year ago, that wasn’t enough to prompt an EU complaint. It’s clear that the digital transformation that businesses are being forced to accelerate during this pandemic has pushed many more to Microsoft Teams instead of Slack. Microsoft Teams usage skyrocketed nearly 40 percent in a single week at the beginning of the pandemic, moving from 32 million to 44 million. That shift hasn’t slowed down either, with Microsoft revealing back in April that Teams is now at 75 million daily active users. Slack has said it has broken user records due to increased demand for remote working, but the company has only said 12.5 million concurrent Slack users so far. That number is also different from the 12 million daily active users Slack previously disclosed back in October. Microsoft has responded to Slack’s EU complaint, and the company used the opportunity to highlight an area it feels Slack missed out on: videoconferencing. While Slack does actually support videoconferencing, Microsoft says, “With COVID-19, the market has embraced Teams in record numbers while Slack suffered from its absence of video-conferencing.” Slack’s videoconferencing is far inferior to Teams, and it’s the big reason behind Slack partnering up with Amazon to transition to Chime for voice and video calling. Slack’s miss on reliable video calling and videoconferencing highlights one of the main differences between Microsoft Teams and Slack. Microsoft has leveraged its investments in Lync and Skype and rolled them into Teams and chat, while Slack has brilliantly adapted IRC for the workplace and has ambitions to truly eliminate business email. The differences between Slack and Teams have allowed both to compete for different customers, especially as Microsoft caters to the Office crowd and Slack for a combination of G Suite, Zoom, and other tools. Google is looming large, though. The tighter integration of Google Meet into Gmail hits at a Slack weakness, and if Google is able to produce a compelling Slack competitor, then Slack will face far bigger problems than Microsoft alone. The big winner in Slack’s Microsoft fight could be Google
  9. Slack says Microsoft is back up to old bad tricks, “browser war” style Remember when Netscape said Internet Explorer was a problem? Enlarge Aurich Lawson / Getty Images 113 with 89 posters participating Slack—the now-nearly ubiquitous, purple work-chatting platform—has filed a formal complaint alleging that tech titan Microsoft is unlawfully abusing its power to squeeze newer rivals out of the market—almost the exact same accusations Microsoft infamously faced 20 years ago. San Francisco-based Slack filed a complaint with the European Commission detailing "Microsoft's illegal and anti-competitive practice of abusing its market dominance to extinguish competition in breach of European Union competition law," the company said today. The complaint centers on Microsoft Teams, the company's chat and video-conference platform. Teams is a competitor product not only to Slack but also to popular conference service Zoom, Google's Meet and chat services, and other video services. Slack alleges that the way Microsoft bundles Teams into its distribution of Office—widely used enterprise software such as Outlook, Word, PowerPoint, and Excel—gives Microsoft an unfair advantage against the competition. "What we are asking for is Teams be separated from the Office Suite and sold separately with a fair commercial price tag, so it competes on the merits with our products," Slack's general counsel, David Schellhase, explained. "Competition and antitrust laws are designed to ensure that dominant companies are not allowed to foreclose competition illegally." "Microsoft is reverting to past behavior," Schellhase added, referring to a landmark US antitrust case against the company from the late 1990s. "They created a weak, copycat product and tied it to their dominant Office product, force installing it and blocking its removal, a carbon copy of their illegal behavior during the ‘browser wars.’ Slack is asking the European Commission to take swift action to ensure Microsoft cannot continue to illegally leverage its power from one market to another by bundling or tying products." The European Commission does not necessarily have to investigate Microsoft just because Slack has filed a complaint. Based on the EC's current strong interest in probing alleged anticompetitive behavior from tech companies such as Apple, Google, and Facebook, however, the commission seems primed to take the accusations seriously. All of this has happened before... When most people think about antitrust law, they think about monopolies being broken up. The last time a company in the United States was forced to break up, though, was January 1, 1984, when AT&T split into the seven regional "Baby Bell" phone carriers. (By the time 30 years had passed, all of those smaller firms had once again merged back into either AT&T or Verizon.) But antitrust is about way more than just monopolies. It covers a whole range of anticompetitive behaviors. At the highest level, competition law basically says that it's fine to be dominant in your market—but that it's illegal to use that position to cheat or to bully other firms out of competing against you. The last time the Department of Justice tried to break up a company, however, the conglomerate in the hot seat was... Microsoft. In 1998, the DOJ took Microsoft to court, alleging the company was behaving as an illegal monopoly and also that it was harming companies such as Netscape by unlawfully bundling its Internet Explorer browser with the Windows operating system. In May 2000, the court ruled that Microsoft had indeed broken the law, and the next month, it ordered Microsoft to be broken up: one company to produce Windows, and another to produce all other Microsoft software, such as Office and IE. Microsoft all but immediately appealed and eventually won out, reaching a settlement with the DOJ in 2001. That settlement avoided any breakups, instead requiring Microsoft to share its APIs with third-party companies. Internet Explorer remained the Internet's most commonly used browser until Google's Chrome finally surpassed it in popularity about five years ago. (Chrome itself now faces some of the same allegations of stagnation and anticompetitive behavior.) “They want to kill us” Just last month, The Wall Street Journal ran a deep dive into Microsoft's Teams strategy, writing, "Microsoft's Teams software gives it a hook to lure and keep customers for its broader portfolio of services based in the cloud, where companies increasingly store their data and run applications." The paper went on to describe the relationship between Microsoft and Slack as "an especially intense feud." "They want to kill us, as opposed to have a great product and make customers happy," Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield told the WSJ. Slack says Microsoft is back up to old bad tricks, “browser war” style
  10. Slack launches Enterprise Key Management, a tool that gives admins control over encryption keys With EKM, businesses gain control over the encryption keys used to encrypt the files and messages within their Slack workspace. Workplace collaboration platform Slack said on Monday that it's launching Enterprise Key Management (EKM) for its security-conscious customers on Enterprise Grid. As a refresher, Enterprise Grid provides centralized administrative controls and security integrations to make the Slack platform suitable for businesses operating in heavily-regulated industries such as finance and health. With EKM, businesses gain control over the encryption keys used to encrypt the files and messages within their Slack workspace. Today, all of the data in a Slack instance is encrypted in transit and at rest. EKM lets businesses encrypt that traffic with their own keys and add additional layer of control. In effect, Slack is providing enterprises with the security controls of an on-premise tool with the benefits of a cloud tool. The service primarily targets large enterprises in regulated industries that have to keep up with shifting governance and compliance mandates, but Slack's chief security officer Geoff Belknap said EKM is available to any Enterprise Grid users that just want more visibility and more control when using Slack. "From an assurance perspective, EKM gives businesses full control based on what their compliance requirements are in their vertical, or if they are just extra security conscious," Belknap said. "I expect there to be a subset of customers that are not in the traditional vertical that will excited to add this on to their Enterprise Grid." In terms of implementation, Slack said EKM is relatively lightweight and can be set-up in a matter of hours. Enterprise Grid customers interested in the product need to apply directly to Slack to discuss rollout and pricing for their specific organization. Once enrolled and configured, organization owners and admins have the ability to view details specific to EKM, and the toolset is controlled via the security section of the Admin Dashboard. On the backend, EKM is managed in Amazon's AWS KMS. Slack customers CrowdStrike and Take-Two have been using EKM in beta. Colin Black, COO of CrowdStrike, said the toolset has bolstered the company's internal security and how it controls access to data and relationships within the Slack ecosystem. "With the introduction of Slack Enterprise Key Management as an added security feature, we immediately saw its value in giving us total control of our data and the assurance that we're protected in the event of a security threat in our supply chain," Black said. Slack -- which says it now has 10 million daily active users and 85,000 paying customers -- said more than 150 enterprises including Target, Capital One, and IBM are using Enterprise Grid. Earlier this year Slack confidentially submitted a registration statement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission related to its much anticipated debut on the public market. Since April 2014 Slack has raised more than $1 billion in total funding. Its last round secured $427 million in venture financing and gave the company a post-money valuation of $7.1 billion. Source
  11. Matrix Within this segment, the strongest sound is Matrix, an interesting open and decentralized standard for communication designed for interoperability in a similar way to the interoperability existing in the e-mail segment, Enabling real-time communication between users regardless of the customers or servers they use. Currently, the standard and all its development is maintained by Matrix.org Foundation, a non-profit organization based in the United Kingdom. Matrix has been developed with privacy and security in mind, taking into account the federation between servers, so that a user can communicate in any existing room securely, with end-to-end encryption, regardless of the server Where you have registered your account, and using any client of your choice. There are also gateways to participate through messaging programs such as Telegram, discord or Slack, among others. Matrix allows communication between users basically via text chat, audio calls and video calls, along with other possibilities. In addition, it aims to surpass the relative success achieved by the standards SIP, XMPP and RCS trying to circumvent the obstacles that have prevented that the standards now mentioned have not been able to go to more. Among the customers, the best known is Riot, also open-source. Those who do not want to create their own self-hosted Matrix servers, have the possibility to hire some of Modular.im’s plans to create their servers with a few clicks away, depending on their needs. All information is available on your official website Rocket Chat It is a robust open source solution that allows organizations to both install on their own servers and use the different payment plans, with different features, through the platform servers, avoiding the need of having technical knowledge, being able to take advantage of the test period that is also offered. In either case, the users of the organizations can connect to the servers through the clients available for the desktop systems: Windows, Linux and Mac, as for the mobile systems: Android and IOS. Once connected, you will find, according to the chosen plan, a multitude of possibilities, including real-time audio and video calls, file sharing, possibility of external guest collaboration, message translations, audio conversion to texts, etc., all of them safely. In addition, thanks to plugins, themes and applications, organizations will be able to adapt their spaces to their needs, preferences and identities. If organizations come from HipChat or Slack, they also have a message import tool. In this regard, Rocket Chat is sold as an alternative to these services. With more than 600 collaborating developers worldwide, and with its source code available on GitHub, this is a powerful solution to consider. Mattermost This solution is designed to be self-hosted in both the cloud and the local infrastructure of the companies themselves. It started as a chat tool under the proprietary code for SpinPunch, but later released its code, according to Wikipedia It is currently maintained by Mattermost Inc, whose revenue source comes from support and additional features not available in the open source Team Edition (MIT License). Users can interact with Mattermost servers through clients available for Windows, Linux, Mac, Android and IOS, all open source. Mattermost yes usually referred to as an alternative to Slack. Keybase And finally, could not Miss Keybase, a well-known communications platform end-to-end and open source that counts among its services with a chat service and another for the creation of groups in the style Slack or discord, launched just over a year ago. The best of all is that it is available free of charge and without publicity, with applications for desktop systems: Windows, Linux and Mac, as well as applications for mobile devices: Android and iOS. An interesting fact is that those who want it can also use it under the Tor network. Source
  12. Changes to configuration files don't change signature, can add malicious features. LAS VEGAS—The Electron development platform is a key part of many applications, thanks to its cross-platform capabilities. Based on JavaScript and Node.js, Electron has been used to create client applications for Internet communications tools (including Skype, WhatsApp, and Slack) and even Microsoft's Visual Studio Code development tool. But Electron can also pose a significant security risk because of how easily Electron-based applications can be modified without triggering warnings. At the BSides LV security conference on Tuesday, Pavel Tsakalidis demonstrated a tool he created called BEEMKA, a Python-based tool that allows someone to unpack Electron ASAR archive files and inject new code into Electron's JavaScript libraries and built-in Chrome browser extensions. The vulnerability is not part of the applications themselves but of the underlying Electron framework—and that vulnerability allows malicious activities to be hidden within processes that appear to be benign. Tsakalidis said that he had contacted Electron about the vulnerability but that he had gotten no response—and the vulnerability remains. While making these changes required administrator access on Linux and MacOS, it only requires local access on Windows. Those modifications can create new event-based "features" that can access the file system, activate a Web cam, and exfiltrate information from systems using the functionality of trusted applications—including user credentials and sensitive data. In his demonstration, Tsakalidis showed a backdoored version of Microsoft Visual Studio Code that sent the contents of every code tab opened to a remote website. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature The problem lies in the fact that Electron ASAR files themselves are not encrypted or signed, allowing them to be modified without changing the signature of the affected applications. A request from developers to be able to encrypt ASAR files was closed by the Electron team without action. Code inserted into the ASAR can run either within the application's context or within the context of the Electron framework itself. Application code is "plain old JavaScript," Tsakalidis explained, capable of calling Electron's operating-specific modules—including microphone and camera controls, as well as operating system interfaces. Code injected into Electron's internal Chrome extensions can allow attackers to bypass certificate checks, so that, while code may still force communications over HTTPS, an attacker can use a self-signed certificate on a remote system for exfiltration. And Web communications can be altered or completely blocked—including applications' updating features, which would prevent new versions from being automatically installed, displacing the backdoored application. Tsakalidis said that in order to make modifications to Electron apps, local access is needed, so remote attacks to modify Electron apps aren't (currently) a threat. But attackers could backdoor applications and then redistribute them, and the modified applications would be unlikely to trigger warnings—since their digital signature is not modified. Source
  13. Slack Technologies Inc. easily beat earnings expectations for its first quarter since going public, but its guidance for the next quarter and full year came in lighter than expected, causing its stock to plunge more than 13% in after-hours trading. The workplace collaboration software company reported a second-quarter loss before certain costs such as stock compensation of 14 cents per share on revenue of $145 million. Wall Street had forecast a wider loss of 18 cents per share on revenue of $140.7 million. That was a good start but investor’s enthusiasm for Slack waned quickly on lower-than-expected guidance. The company said it’s expecting a third quarter loss of between 8 and 9 cents per share on revenue of $154 million to $156 million. Analysts had forecast a loss of 7 cents on revenue of $153 million. Guidance for the full year also came up light. Slack said it’s expecting a loss of 40 to 42 cents on revenue of $603 million to $610 million. Analysts were expecting a full-year loss of 40 cents per share on $601 million in revenue. “A reduction in outlook is not something shareholders hope for in a recent IPO, especially when the company in question appears to be looking at future quarters in the red,” said Charles King of Pund-IT Inc. “As Slack, and many other businesses in the past have learned, the margin for error becomes much finer after a company becomes a public entity.” Slack made its debut on the New York Stock exchange in June via a direct listing. Its biggest competitor is Microsoft Corp., which offers the Teams work chat app through its Office 365 suite. In July Microsoft claimed it was winning the battle against Slack, releasing statistics that show Teams is the more popular service, with 13 million daily active users. Slack last claimed it had 10 million daily active users in January, but hasn’t updated that count since — and it didn’t do so today either. One thing Slack did say today, however, is that it ended the quarter just gone with more than 100,000 paid customers, up 37% from a year ago. It added that 720 of those customers had signed contracts worth more than $100,000 in annual revenue. “Slack helps enterprises to achieve what ultimately matters, namely enterprise acceleration and faster and more agile processes,” said Holger Mueller, an analyst with Constellation Research Inc. “Meeting people where they do work is a new enterprise software usage paradigm that appeals for many processes. As long as Slack can grow in the 50% range, it has the necessary escape velocity to stay ahead of the chasing pack off traditional enterprise productivity tool vendors.” Slack’s revenue also took an $8.2 million hit because of credits it doled out to customers following two service disruptions in the last quarter. The company offers credits for future use to its customers whenever its uptime falls below 99.9%. Slack Chief Executive Officer Stewart Butterfield promised investors during a conference call the company was working hard to eliminate such disruptions. “This is a big area of investment,” Butterfield said. “We’ve made some great hires on the infrastructure side.” Source
  14. Beleaguered corporate chat app, Slack, which has recently been overtaken by Microsoft Teams, has pushed out a series of new feature updates to improve their competitive position. This month’s update brings a number of new features, including people search, announcement channels and more. See the features in greater detail below. People Search When entering a keyword or phrase into the search bar and tapping the “People” tab, you’ll now find its easier to distinguish between contacts. Search already helps you find just about everything—from an important message to a file or a channel. Now, search can help you pinpoint the right colleagues, based on their name, profile information (such as department or role) and what they talk about in public channels. Looking for someone who knows about that new project you’re working on? Just type the keyword or phrase into the search bar, then tap the “People” tab. Longer Channel Names The maximum character limit of channel names has now been increased from 21 to 80. If Game of Thrones can have more than 21 characters, then so can our channels. We’re extending the maximum length of channel names—from 21 to a whopping 80 characters. That means acronym-packed channels can finally be written out. It helps channel names become a little more clear—and a lot more human. Announcement Channels Users of the Plus and Enterprise Grid plans can now apply posting permissions to their channels, with the choice of allowing: everyone, everyone except guests, admins only or admins plus specific people, to post. When channels grow to hundreds or even thousands of members, sometimes noise can drown out important announcements. To ensure that updates are seen and keep surrounding chatter to a minimum, users on our Plus or Enterprise Grid plans can now set posting permissions for any channel. Quick tip: Admins can limit who can change channel posting permissions from Everyone to Admins and Owners only. Slack Calls Slack now supports new calls features, including screen-share drawings and short messages. We’ve upped the utility of Slack Calls with a variety of enhancements. Now hosts can draw while sharing their screen with others—a perfect way to point out important details on a document or image. You can also now send a short message during Slack Calls. For instance, you could start a poll with emoji, send a quick FYI that you have to step away from the call or offer congratulations—all without interrupting the discussion. Status sync with the Google Calendar app The Google Calendar app now lets you sync your Slack status with your calendar. The Google Calendar App has a helpful new capability. You can now automatically sync your Slack status with your calendar, allowing teammates to see your availability. Other features of Google Calendar allow you to: Receive and respond to event invites Receive notifications when an event is starting soon or when details change Join Hangouts, Meet or Zoom calls with a single click Read the full changelog here. Source: Latest Slack update introduces a number of new features (MSPoweruser)
  15. Google is working on an initiative to streamline its suite of mobile and browser-based apps for businesses into a singular experience, according to The Information. The app would combine Gmail, Drive, Hangouts Meet, and Hangouts Chat all in one interface, and would provide easier hooks into products like Google Calendar. Google is notorious for its confusing collection of communication apps, from Hangouts Classic to Hangouts Meet and Duo, as well as others that have been killed off (Wave: never forget), and has stumbled with integration before. Competition is good, obviously — The company’s unification is clearly designed to push back against Microsoft's growth of its Teams product with larger, more established companies. Additionally, Slack has become the de facto method of realtime collaboration and communication among startups. Slack has made integrations with Google products simple while pushing users away from traditional chat like Hangouts, while Microsoft has gone through a renaissance of sorts, releasing a bevy of redesigned communications apps, like Outlook, to positive reviews. The details — The app is expected to be exclusive to G Suite, meaning it would primarily be available to enterprise businesses using Google’s apps rather than the general public. It’s intended to help Google better compete against increasing competition from Microsoft, which through its Teams product has combined a suite of functions including workplace chat and VoIP calling into one app. Teams has been growing quickly in part because it's included with Office 365. Microsoft says it has 20 million monthly active users, more than its main rival Slack (although there’s some debate about whether Microsoft’s users are truly active). It’s unclear exactly how smashing a bunch of separate apps into one would be beneficial, but The Information posits the move would make it easier for IT managers to manage the apps used by their employees because they’d have fewer to monitor. Google already provides a dashboard for admins to manage teams through its G Suite apps console, but this new effort will apparently take a more holistic approach. Owning big business — Developing software that large companies embrace is crucial because businesses, of course, are willing to pay handsomely for a managed offering, and are often unwilling to switch platforms once settled in. It also offers an inroad to selling cloud server space, one of Google's fastest growing businesses. Besides the unified enterprise app, Google also recently announced it’s killing off App Maker, a drag-and-drop tool for G Suite businesses to create custom internal apps. These apps could do things like host internal forum discussions or provide employees with easy to use forms for submitting information to a database. The company recently acquired a company called App Sheet that does largely the same thing, however. Source
  16. How to use Slack channels Create new ones and invite people to join you Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge Slack, the instant messaging app of choice for many companies, has probably become an even bigger part of your life if you’re working from home. And while Slack is usually used for work, it’s also very useful for conversing with friends and family. Slack offers paid plans, but anyone can sign up for the free version and create a workspace, a virtual space where you can set up different conversations and projects. Each of those conversations and projects on Slack are called channels. These channels function like chat rooms or group chats. While there isn’t a limit to the number of channels you can make or private messages you can send in Slack, the free version will only let you see the last 10,000 messages sent in your workspace. Slack is rolling out a newer version, so these instructions will vary depending on what version you’re on and whether you’re on a paid or free plan, but we’ve included all of the steps below. Create a channel Depending on your version of Slack, you’ll either see a regular + next to “Channels” near the top of the left-hand column, or you’ll see a circle with a + sign in it. Click on that button. If you have the regular + sign, you’ll have to select “Create a channel” from the drop-down button. Otherwise, you’ll get the “Create a channel” pop-up box immediately. Type in a name for your channel and add a description if you like. You also have the option to make the channel private, which means others can only see or join it if you invite them. Users designated as owners or admins can make any channel they’re part of (other than the #general channel) private at any time, but once you make it private, you can’t make it public again. Click “Create.” A window will pop up allowing you to add members to your channel. You can add everyone in your workspace, a few select people, or you can skip adding people for now. You can also set up the channel so that anyone who joins your workspace is automatically added to the channel. Make your selections and click the “Done” button in the lower right corner of the window. You can also click the “X” in the top right corner of the window to skip this step. Join a channel You can join public channels in a couple of different ways: You can browse through a list of public channels on your workspace to find one to join. If you have that circular + button next to “Channels,” then clicking on “Channels” will take you straight to the channel browser. If you have the plain +, click on that and then select “Browse channels” from the drop-down menu next to the button. You can also open the channel browser by clicking Ctrl + Shift + L on a Windows computer or Command + Shift + L on a Mac. The channel browser will show you all of the public channels in your workspace. Filter the channels by typing in what you’re looking for in the search bar at the top. Click on a channel name to open the channel (you may also have to click the “Preview” button in the sidebar on the right-hand side), then click “Join Channel” at the bottom of the page to join it. If you already know the name of the channel you want to join, you can type that channel’s name in the search bar located either at the top of the screen or in the upper left-hand corner under your name. As you type, a list of channels will come up. Click on the channel you want to join and then click on the “Join Channel” button at the bottom of the page to join it. You can also type “/join [channel name]” (without the quotation marks) in the message box at the bottom of the screen to join a channel without previewing it first. Add someone to an existing channel While anyone can join a public channel in a workspace, they’ll have to be added by a current member in order to join a private channel. If you’re a member of a public or private channel, here’s how to add a new member: Open the channel and select (depending on your version of Slack) the cog settings icon or the “Details” button in the top right corner. Click “Add people to channel” or the “Add” button (again, depending on your version). If you’re adding them to a private channel, you can choose to either “Add to [channel name],” which gives the new members access to the channel’s history, or “Create a new channel,” which creates a new private channel with the members from that channel in it. Make your selection, then click “Continue.” You’ll then be taken to the “Add people” window. If you’re adding people to a public channel, you’ll be taken straight to the “Add people” pop-up window without seeing that previous window. In the “Add people” window, type the name of whomever you want to add into the bar. As you type, names of people in the workspace will appear below the bar. Click on the names you’d like to add and then click “Add” or “Done.” If you created a public channel and you’re adding people to it, the “Add people” pop-up window will look a little different. It will ask you whether you want to add everyone in your workspace to that channel or if you just want to add specific people. To add people individually, begin typing their names in the bar. As you type, names will appear in a drop-down menu; click on those you want to add. You can also choose to add everyone who joins the workspace to the channel. When you’re done, click “Add” or “Done.” Set a channel topic At the top of your screen, underneath the channel name, is the channel topic, which acts like a description for that channel. Channel topics can be useful for keeping people updated on the conversation or letting others know what the channel’s for. You can set or change the channel topic at any time. To set the topic: Open a channel. Click “Add a topic” below the channel name. Type the topic into the box in the window that appears. Click “Set topic.” To change the channel topic: Hover over the channel topic. Click on the blue “Edit” that appears. Write a new channel topic. Click “Set topic.” Mute notifications Being a part of several channels on Slack can be overwhelming at times — especially when you’re constantly getting notifications about unread messages from every channel you’re in. You can mute channels that you’re less interested in, which means the channel name on the left-hand side won’t become bold every time someone sends a message. Here’s how to do that: Open up the channel Click on the cog icon next to the channel name, toward the upper right-hand corner of the screen. If you can’t see a cog icon, click on “Details” in the top right corner and then “More.” Click “Mute [channel name].” Source: How to use Slack channels (The Verge)
  17. Slack unveils its biggest redesign yet It arrives today, and it’s more customizable and simplified Slack is unveiling a big redesign to its communications app that starts rolling out today to make things a lot simpler to use. If you’re a Slack user, you’re probably used to some of the quirky ways the chat app works and how parts of the user interface are hard to discover and customize. Slack is trying to address some of these flaws with far better sidebar customization, a new compose button, a top navigation bar, and many other tweaks and changes. “This is the largest redesign in Slack’s history,” explains Ethan Eismann, vice president of design at Slack, in an interview with The Verge. “We’ve taken a lot of the historical features and reorganized them in a way that makes them much more apparent in the right way and simple to use. That was very much the goal of this process.” Slack’s new redesign all starts with the sidebar. The biggest change is that messages, channels, and apps will all now support grouping into collapsible sections within the Slack sidebar. That means if you’re working on a project that has certain channels and group DM conversations, then you can nest them all under one handy section and drag and drop it to exactly where you want it in the sidebar. Unfortunately, the new sidebar sections feature will only be available on paid Slack plans, not free versions. There’s also a big new compose button in the sidebar that works as a universal way to start a message anywhere in Slack. You can start drafting a message as a DM or straight into a Slack channel, and Slack will load in the relevant message history within the draft view before you hit send. Searching for people or channels and reacting to threads and mentions has always been a little clunky in Slack, but that’s also greatly improved now. There’s a new section in the sidebar for People and Mentions & reactions. Both were buried away before, and you’ll now be able to quickly see mentions or channel pings, and find people you want to DM. You’ll even be able to customize the width of the sidebar and tweak its color with 11 new themes soon. A new top navigation bar also helps with search in Slack and lets you switch between channels and search. You can navigate back and forth within Slack using the new navigation bar, so you can quickly flick between channels and DMs. It even supports keyboard shortcuts or mouse buttons that you’d usually use for navigating back in a web browser. Elsewhere, Slack is also getting a lot of minor UI changes to clean up channel details panes, menus, preferences, and even an increase in spacing throughout. It should all add up to a Slack app that feels a little easier to use and is less cluttered. ”The design of Slack was more complicated than we really felt like it should be,” admits Eismann. “We want to make sure it’s easy for anyone to use Slack. It’s important that Slack is adaptable to the way people work.” Slack actually used the Slack service and its customers to redesign the communications app. Slack created a shared channel between its product managers, engineers, designers, and around 100 external “Slack champions” who are Slack administrators or help roll out the app at businesses. “They were in one workspace, and we were in another and we were able to deploy these prototypes to them,” reveals Eismann. “They gave us feedback in real time, and they also started giving each other feedback and having conversations with each other. It was this iterative back and forth co-creation process, with immediate feedback.” Around 30 different companies participated, and it allowed Slack to understand the impact of design changes almost immediately. While most of the changes will be on the desktop / web side of Slack today, the company is also planning a redesign for its mobile app in the coming weeks. “We’re thinking about the mobile use cases… and really optimizing for content on the go,” says Jaime DeLanghe, director of product management at Slack, in an interview with The Verge. That includes catching up quickly in between meetings and cleaning up DMs or mentions. I got to see an early glimpse of what the new Slack mobile will look like, and there’s now dedicated home, DMs, and mentions buttons at the bottom of the interface. The classic sidebar still exists, but it looks like navigation is also going to improve on mobile. All of the new desktop changes start rolling out today, just as many businesses increasingly turn to remote working to cope with the novel coronavirus pandemic. It’s certainly interesting (and bold) timing, given the increase in demand that online services are seeing right now. Slack’s main rival, Microsoft Teams, experienced an outage earlier this week as demand for the service increased, and Xbox Live and Discord have both had service issues recently, too. Slack is pushing ahead regardless, and new users can expect to see the new UI starting today. Slack is rolling this out to new users first, thanks to the increase in remote working and to avoid people new to the app having to learn different versions. Everyone else will start to see the new design showing up in the coming weeks. Source: Slack unveils its biggest redesign yet (The Verge)
  18. Slack adds calling integrations for Teams, Zoom, and more Slack and Microsoft Teams are two of the biggest enterprise communication tools out there, and the two services have developed a notable rivalry over the past few years. However, last week, Slack CEO announced that the company was working on an integration with Teams to allow users to make voice and video calls using Microsoft's service. Now, the company has revealed that the integration is available in beta form, as reported by ZDNet. In addition to Teams, Slack can integrate with Zoom, Cisco Jabber, RingCentral, and Dialpad, and these integrations are specifically aimed at making calls to phone numbers from within Slack. Despite the rivalry between the two companies' services, Slack offers a few integrations with other Microsoft products already, like OneDrive and Outlook. However, Teams is a direct competitor to Slack, and it's not like Slack doesn't have its own calling capabilities, so it's certainly interesting to see this integration happen. In the past, Slack's CEO has pointed out that the majority of Slack's customers also use Microsoft 365, which might help explain the decision. If you're interested, you can download the Teams Calls app for Slack here. Source: Slack adds calling integrations for Teams, Zoom, and more (Neowin)
  19. The Team is growing — Microsoft Teams is now officially bigger than Slack It's the first official milestone for Microsoft's group chat, and it's a big one. Enlarge / A Microsoft office (not to be confused with Microsoft Office). Julien GONG Min / Flickr Microsoft Teams may have only been around for two years, but the group-chat platform is already larger than one of its main competitors. Microsoft announced that Teams has more than 13 million daily active users. The amount rises to 19 million when looking at weekly active users. That means the service is now officially bigger than Slack, an independent platform for online chatting and collaboration. This is the most specific Microsoft has gotten yet with information about its group-chatting platform. The only other update the company gave was back in March, when it revealed that 500,000 organizations were using the service. In addition to the audience news, Microsoft shared some upcoming features for Teams. Today, it is rolling out what it's calling "announcements," which allows important news to be highlighted in a channel. Later this month, it plans to roll out channel moderation and priority notifications, which will ping a recipient every two minutes until a response is made. Finally, cross-channel posting will be coming "soon." Microsoft introduced Teams to users on Office 365 subscriptions in March 2017 and then added a free version in July 2018. The service has been pitched as a replacement for Slack ever since launch. Catching up so quickly in audience size over two years when Slack has been around since August 2013 is a feather in Microsoft’s cap and may be a reason why it has opted to wait so long to announce any numbers about Teams. Despite the obvious comparisons, Microsoft and Slack have plenty of instances where they aren't targeting the same audiences. Microsoft has an established reputation among enterprise businesses, and being a part of the Office 365 suite makes it a preferred choice for groups that are already working in that ecosystem. For smaller organizations, or even large ones that rely more on Google systems, Slack remains an alternative. Source: Microsoft Teams is now officially bigger than Slack (Ars Technica)
  20. In just five years, Slack has grown to have more than 10 million users and has become a verb in the process. "I'll Slack you" is shorthand for sending a message via the workplace chat platform. On Thursday, the company will take that popularity to the New York Stock Exchange, where its shares will be publicly listed for the first time. At a starting price of $26 per share set Wednesday, Slack Technologies would be worth about $16 billion. Instead of having a conventional initial public offering, Slack will enter into the market as a direct listing, which means the shares will simply be listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Most firms that pass on an IPO are widely known companies that are in good financial shape. As Fortune explains: Spotify, the music-streaming company, went public as a direct listing last year. In the fiscal year that ended Jan. 31, Slack nearly doubled its revenues, to about $400 million. But it had a net loss of nearly $139 million. As it continues to grow, Slack's biggest hurdle will be proving to its users that it's more than just a chat application. Forrester analyst Michael Facemire says it's hard for people to understand why the platform is more useful than other chat applications without trying it for themselves. With Microsoft Teams as a major competitor, Slack is facing pressure to distinguish itself in the market. "If the world were only composed of technologists and developers and Silicon Valley illuminati, then Slack would be far, far ahead," Facemire says. "There is a large percentage of the population that isn't that. This is where tools like Microsoft Teams do just as well." Slack is one of NPR's financial sponsors. Slack's decision to begin trading as a direct listing follows a wobbly start for Uber, which has had one of the most anticipated initial public offerings in the tech sector. Last month, the ride-hailing company reported a $1 billion loss in its first public financial report, just weeks after its IPO. Slack, which was publicly released in 2014, stemmed from an internal chat platform created by CEO Stewart Butterfield during a failed video game development. The software was created to avoid the confusion of email and, per its acronym, provide a "Searchable Log of All Conversation and Knowledge" for the team, which had people working all over North America. Butterfield co-founded Flickr, which he sold to Yahoo for around $25 million in 2005. But despite interest from Amazon, Google and Microsoft in 2017, he held on to Slack, which continued to compete with emerging chat platforms. Source
  21. Company said it received a batch of compromised credentials related to the 2015 hack via its bug bounty program. Slack published more details about a password reset operation that ZDNet reported earlier today. According to a statement the company published on its website, the password reset operation is related to the company's 2015 security breach. In March 2015, Slack said hackers gained access to some Slack infrastructure, including databases storing user credentials. Hackers stole hashed passwords, but they also planted code on the company's site to capture plaintext passwords that users entered when logging in. At the time, Slack reset passwords for users who it believed were impacted, and also added support for two-factor authentication for all accounts. But as ZDNet reported earlier today, the company recently received a batch of Slack users credentials, which prompted the company to start an investigation into its source and prepare a password reset procedure. "We immediately confirmed that a portion of the email addresses and password combinations were valid, reset those passwords, and explained our actions to the affected users," Slack said. In a message on its website, Slack said this batch of credentials came via its bug bounty program. The company said it initially believed the data came from users who had their PCs infected with malware, or users who reused passwords across different services. "However, as more information became available and our investigation continued, we determined that the majority of compromised credentials were from accounts that logged in to Slack during the 2015 security incident," Slack said. While the batch of compromised credentials included 65,000 passwords, today, Slack decided to reset passwords for all users who were active at the time of the 2015 breach -- except users who already changed their password since then, or those who use single-sign-on (SSO) solutions. In total, the company said it would end up resetting passwords for 1% of its 10 million userbase, or roughly 100,000. Slack said it had "no reason to believe that any of these accounts were compromised" and that it was taking this step as a precaution. Source
  22. Slack is warning some users to reset their passwords and wipe the app data Apparently Slack was logging some users' information in plain text. What you need to know Slack is emailing users and them to change their passwords. Apparently, the company was logging some users' login information in plain text. The company states that the problem has already been fixed and that no accounts should be compromised. Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central Slack, one of the best messaging apps, is emailing some of its users and asking them to change their passwords. According to Android Police, this is legit and not a scam or phishing attempt. They contacted the company about the email and it turns out Slack has logged some users' login information in plain text, making it visible on their smartphones. Because of this, Slack is asking some users to change their passwords. We are taking this step as a precaution due to an error that we discovered and there is no evidence of any unauthorized or third-party access to this account...On December 20th, 2020, Slack introduced a bug that caused some versions of our Android app to log clear text user credentials to their device. Slack identified the issue on January 20th, 2021, and fixed it on January 21st, 2021. In addition to changing your password, Slack is asking users to wipe their app data. To do this you can follow our guide on how to clear your app cache or data on Android. After this, you'll need to log back in. Slack maintains that your accounts should be safe and that the app update has fixed the issue, disabling any affected versions of the app. The issue should only affect users of the Android app, leaving iOS users safe. This isn't the first time Slack had some user-facing errors with its service. Several weeks ago, Slack faced an outage that rendered the service largely useless on the first workday of the year. Source: Slack is warning some users to reset their passwords and wipe the app data
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