Work Week | 5G, 5G, 5G…
| Jam: In-The-Flow Collaboration | LoNo: Retool Raises $50M | People Operations: Workday releases new tools | Work Tech: Slack drops 6% |
Quote of the Week
Click the image above to hear ‘5G’ a hundred times in a 47 seconds superclip of the iPhone 12 event.
Jam raises $3.5 million to Figma-tize product collaboration | Lucas Matney does not do the best job of explaining what Jam is but sets the stage for its seed funding by an impressive group of investors.
Jam co-founders Dani Grant and Mohd Irtefa tell TechCrunch they’ve closed on $3.5 million in seed funding and are ready to launch a public beta of their collaboration platform which builds chat, comments and task management directly onto a website, allowing developers and designers to track issues and make suggestions quickly and simply.
The seed round was led by Union Square Ventures, where Grant previously worked as an analyst. Version One Ventures, BoxGroup and Village Global also participated, alongside some noteworthy angels, including GitHub CTO Jason Warner, Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince, Gumroad CEO Sahil Lavingia and former Robinhood VP Josh Elman.
So what is Jam? The company provides a better introduction and includes a positioning for the space: in-the-flow collaboration.
Jam is a new in-the-flow collaboration tool for product teams. It turns any product or website into a collaborative doc, letting teammates add comments and create tasks right from the product. Jam integrates with existing tools like Jira, GitHub, Figma, Loom and others so that teams can easily use all their tools without switching contexts to do work. We love this description from an early user —
By ‘product’ they mean a web-based application, not a package of Pampers. And by doc, it might better be compared to a design canvas, like Figma. It’s implemented by adding Jam code into the app or website under development, and then developers can annotate, chat, comment, and assign tasks linked to components of the site or app.
It reminds me of omnichannel products like Intercom, which instrument a website or web app with the capability of communicating with customers and internally to resolve customer questions and issues. But here, the interaction is all internal to the product team.
Very cool. And a new category of work technology!
Retool Nears $1 Billion Valuation With Funding From Sequoia | Isabelle Lee reports on a fundraise by Retool, which provides a platform to develop low code enterprise apps that can reside on a Git repository, and which integrates with dozens of enterprise applications.
Retool, Inc., a startup that’s less than four years old, is worth almost $1 billion after raising money from some of Silicon Valley’s top investors including Sequoia Capital and executives from GitHub Inc. and Stripe Inc.
The San Francisco-based company recently completed a $50 million financing that was led by Sequoia and values Retool at $925 million. That follows an earlier $25 million round. Other backers include GitHub Chief Executive Officer Nat Friedman, Stripe founders Patrick and John Collison, Brex Inc. founders Henrique Dubugras and Pedro Franceschi, and Y Combinator co-founder Paul Graham.
Retool is riding a wave of interest in products that make it easier for developers to build applications and other software. The value of this part of the tech industry was highlighted in 2018 when GitHub, which helps developers share code and collaborate, was bought by Microsoft Corp. for $7.5 billion.
While GitHub caters to mostly expert software developers, there’s huge demand for this type of support among less tech-savvy workers. That’s led to an explosion of low-code offerings that don’t require as much knowhow and no-code services, which need no prior coding knowledge.
Retool is taking a low-code approach and the startup focuses on companies that need to build their own internal software tools. Instead of writing software from scratch, these customers can drag and drop Retool’s pre-made building blocks into place, and then use their own code to tweak or customize the final product.
At a first look, Retool has all the security requirements checked off, and look at the investors.
Workday launches Workday Help, Journeys, People Analytics | Larry Dignan reports on new products from Workday.
The new Workday products — Workday Help, Workday Journeys and Workday People Analytics — land as enterprise technology vendors are launching services to manage a bevy of human resources functions amid hybrid work arrangements and new safety protocols during COVID-19. Workday also recently announced integration with Salesforce’s Work.com platform.
Workday’s new products include:
| Workday Help, an HR service delivery application, uses machine learning to drive case management for employees. Workday Help includes a personalized knowledge base and case management tools within Workday. Schlampp noted that all employee data remains within the Workday platform with contextual information.
| Workday Journeys guides employees through transitions such as a job change, promotion, onboarding and maternity leave. Schlampp said customers can create experiences that are tailored for events and topics ranging from health and wellbeing, diversity and inclusion and becoming a manager for the first time.
| Workday People Analytics is designed to use machine learning and analytics to surface trends in the workplace without enterprises having to devote an analyst to it. Schlampp said People Analytics is based on Workday’s acquisition of Stories. The product surfaces insights on organizational composition and trends; retention and attrition without groups; diversity and inclusion data by gender, generations, race and promotion rates within groups; and talent and performance.
I had missed the 2018 acquisition of Stories, but it lines up with Workday’s plans and momentum. Workday’s offerings look stronger now, and the battle with competitors Oracle, SAP, and Ultimate becomes even clearer.
Slack stock sinks after Morgan Stanley says losing to Microsoft, Zoom | Ari Levi reports bad news for Slack:
Whatever benefits Slack saw in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic appear to have dissipated because large companies are choosing rival collaboration products, according to Morgan Stanley.
“Massive work from home demand for collaboration tools may end up doing more harm than good for Slack,” wrote the analysts, who have a $27 price target on the stock. “We see higher risk at current levels.”
Slack’s independence is costing shareholders money, so the board may decide to go a different way. The market value is now near $16 billion. Slack’s stock price has fallen 28% since a June 3 peak, while Microsoft has gained 16%. (Of course, Microsoft has a broad range of products, and Slack is a pure-play work chat tool, but that is the point.
Back in 2019, I was interviewed by Dom Nicastro from CMSwire about Slack’s acquisition of Atlassian’s work chat products:
Nicastro: Do you expect Atlassian users to just make the move to Slack or is it an opportunity for Teams to swoop in and steal some of them?
Boyd: My bet is that users of the Atlassian tools who had not already defected to alternative solutions will use the time before the tools are shut down to evaluate all the options. Slack has the opportunity to build some export/import bridgework, or to offer Atlassian users some discounts. But ultimately I bet the users will move to Slack, Microsoft Teams, Facebook Workplace, and other alternatives in about the same proportions as others in the marketplace do, with perhaps a slight lean in the direction of Slack. But remember, they could have defected to Slack a month ago if they liked Slack so much.
Nicastro: What does this mean for practitioners as they entertain a central hub for collaboration in their enterprises? Is it a Slack vs. Teams world? Or is that something manufactured by people like me who like big headlines?
Boyd: Yes, Atlassian surrendering to Slack is the final battle of one war, but the bigger war is still going: Slack versus Microsoft Teams. And Microsoft has 150 million business users for Office 365, and it has the inside track on converting those to Teams users.
My prediction is that Slack needs to line up with an internet giant to out-market Microsoft, so an acquisition by Google or Amazon is predictable. However, Slack is an unusual case: it has grown very quickly, and is the market-defining product for work chat. So the company is likely to go it alone until its growth slows. Honestly, though, the fit with Google’s G-Suite is compelling, and would be a good use of $10 billion.
Google has launched their own ship in the work chat seas, with the roll-out of the new Google Workspace, with integration of Chat, Meet, and Rooms. So I no longer think the deal with Slack is going to happen. This is just what happened with Microsoft: they decided to build their own instead of an uphill battle to acquire Slack.
There is still an opportunity for Slack to sidle up to Amazon. Back in June, Slack integrated Amazon Chime — the video conferencing platform — replacing its own solution. Amazon has all the pieces to become a serious competitor to Microsoft and Google — email, video conferencing, document management — but the work chat in Chime has next to no market share. So, when Slack drops to, say, a $12 billion market cap, maybe they pair up all the way.
And companies need to give workers better support
How Many Apps Do People Use? | Stowe Boyd
It takes a lot of digging to find out.