I’ve been using Slack since it became our official communication solutions at MediaFire on April 25th, 2014. I’ll skip repeating all the familiar Slack tropes and say it was a win for communication and collaboration.
Stewart Butterfield, the co-founder of Slack (and Flickr), talks about how hard it was getting his first customers, and how easy it was to keep them in his How I Built This interview.
I watched as Slack developed into a powerhouse, it seemed like they could do no wrong. Feature after the notable feature was added. They were the buzz of the bay area.
Slack video conferencing soon replaced Google Hangouts; then screen sharing became an essential tool. Then App integrations made Slack a platform instead of an app. Slack just kept hitting home runs, and that made it a very sticky product.
Once you’re in, how could you possibly leave? Even more so, why would you ever want to? It’s hard to say precisely. Hemingway wrote “Gradually and then suddenly” in The Sun Also Rises, Slack’s been recently making some small mistakes. These minor missteps open the door for someone to walk through, and walk through Zoom has.
Zoom is a startup founded in 2011 (Who knew?) by the founders of WebEx. They’ve focused mostly on the business and enterprise by integrating with other providers like Microsoft. Today they are in the mainstream being used by SMB’s, Individuals, and Enterprises alike.
What are these small missteps? For me, two big things: First, Video chat has gotten increasingly unreliable, and the quality has gone down, and Second, they removed screen sharing. I’ve heard plenty of other complaints too, such as their clients being bloated.
When a company removes a feature your dependant on, you try to work around it, but soon you realize you want it and you look for an alternative. This is when we installed Zoom. Superb video conferencing and screen sharing, and it has the added benefit of allowing remote control and partial screen sharing.
The writing is on the wall for Slack, and unless they make significant investments and improvements to Zoom’s killer features, the transition to Zoom will continue and accelerate.
Right now, we’re are using one client for chat, and one client for video, but that’s a situation that won’t last. Zoom and Slack are on a collision course. Zoom recently updated its client with chat and other collaboration features, and it looks noticeably like Slack. The effect is that I have two similar clients on my desktop, one that I use for my video and screen sharing, and one I use for chat and app integration. The writing is on the wall for Slack, and unless they make significant investments and improvements to Zoom’s killer features, the transition to Zoom will continue and accelerate.
So what’s going on with Slack? Slack’s Video conference was I from Citrix, a long-time leader in the space. Slack used that to leapfrog into the Video space, but that debt has now come due. It’s easy to see how Zoom can add in a great chat product to its clients; it’s harder to see how Slack is going to catch up to Zoom on video conferencing and screen sharing. Slack may have pioneered this market, but Zoom may ultimately dominate it.
I hope someone at Slack is paying attention to what’s happening because just as sticky as Slack is, once a customer leaves, I don’t see them returning, ever.
I’m not sure I could have foreseen this ever happening a year ago, it’s just such a sticky product. But here we are. As of today, we haven’t made the transition, yet, but it wouldn’t be surprising if we did by the end of 2019. I hope someone at Slack is paying attention to what’s happening because just as sticky as Slack is, once a customer leaves, I don’t see them returning, ever.
Have you found yourself in a similar situation with Slack? Let me know!