Slack wants to be more than a text-based messaging platform – TechCrunch

Last October, as Slack prepared for its virtual Frontiers conference, the company started thinking about different ways people could communicate on the platform. While it had built its name by integrating many services in one place to alleviate the dreaded phenomenon of job switching, until now it was largely text-based.

More recently, Slack has started to develop a few new features that can bring different ways of interaction to the platform. CEO Stewart Butterfield discussed them Thursday with former TechCrunch reporter Josh Constine, now a SignalFire investor, in a Clubhouse interview.

The conversation turned to the future of work, and Slack believes these new ways of communicating can help employees connect better online as we transition to a hybrid work world – a world accelerated by last year’s pandemic. There is a general consensus that many companies will continue to operate hybrid even after the pandemic is over.

For starters, Slack wants to add a way to communicate via video. But instead of trying to compete with Zoom or Microsoft Teams, Slack envisions an experience that’s more like Instagram Stories.

Think of the CEO sharing an important announcement with the company, or the type of information that could have been circulated in a company-wide email. Instead, you can skip the inbox and deliver the message directly by video. It takes a page from the consumer approach to social and tries to move it to the enterprise.

Writing in a corporate blog post earlier this week, Tamar Yehoshua, chief product officer at Slack, was clear that this was going to be an asynchronous approach, rather than some sort of encounter.

“To help with this, we’re testing ways to shift meetings to an asynchronous video experience that feels at home in Slack. It allows us to express nuance and enthusiasm without an encounter, ”she wrote.

While it was going, Slack decided to create a way to just chat with your voice. As Butterfield told Constine in his Clubhouse interview, this is essentially a Clubhouse (or Twitter Spaces) being built for Slack.

Yeah, I’ve always believed the thing is ‘copy good artists, steal great artists’, so essentially we’re just building Clubhouse in Slack. Like that idea that you can drop in, the conversation is going on, whether you’re there or not, you can come in and leave when you want, as opposed to a call that starts and stops, is a great model for that spontaneity and that serendipity. to encourage. and conversations that should last only three minutes, but the only option to schedule them is 30 minutes. So pay attention to the clubhouse built into Slack.

Again, it takes a consumer social idea and applies it to a business environment with the idea of ​​finding other ways to keep you in Slack, while you could use other tools to accomplish the same thing, be it Zoom meetings, email or your phone. .

Butterfield also hinted that there could be another feature coming in the future – asynchronous audio, which allows you to leave the equivalent of a voicemail. A Slack spokesperson confirmed it was in the works, but was not ready to share details just yet.

It’s impossible to look at these features without thinking about it in the context of Salesforce’s $ 27 billion acquisition of Slack late last year. If you put them all together, you have this set of tools that allow you to communicate in the way that makes the most sense to you.

When you combine that Slack Connect DM, a new feature to communicate outside of the organization released to some controversy this week, as people wanted assurance that they could control spam and harassment, the concept takes it a step further – outside of the organization itself .

As part of a larger entity such as Salesforce, these tools can be useful for sales, service, and even marketing as a way to communicate in a variety of ways within and outside the organization. And they are vastly expanding Slack’s value proposition as it joins Salesforce later this year.

While it started talking about the new audio and video features last fall, the company has been running them since the beginning of this year. So far, Slack doesn’t say when the new features will be generally available.