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This is an email from Work Week, a newsletter by GigaOm.

Work Week | Virtual Water Cooler

| MO: Slack, Donut, Hallway, Sidekick | Email: Hey | Slacklash | Dialpad + Highfive | Project Oakdale |

Photo by visuals on Unsplash

Minimum Office

Slack shares plunge as growth stays steady with no coronavirus spike | Jordan Novet reports on the market response to Slack’s quarterly results, which are flat, despite the coronavirus surge for others, notably Zoom and Microsoft Teams:

Slack shares fell as much as 20% in extended trading on Tuesday after the team communications software company reported fiscal second-quarter results and full-year guidance that exceeded analysts’ expectations. Although it beat on full-year guidance, revenue growth in the quarter, which ended on July 31, came in below 50% on an annualized basis, in line with the two previous quarters. That’s a disappointment compared with video-calling software company Zoom, which showed 355% growth during the coronavirus pandemic.

[…]

Slack did not see a year-over-year change in its win rate against Microsoft Teams in the quarter, Allen Shim, Slack’s chief financial officer, said on the call with reporters. A majority of customers spending over $1 million in annual recurring revenue also use Office 365, Shim said.

Slack has sued Microsoft in the EU, saying the bundling of Teams with Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) is an unfair sales tactic, but it remains to be seen what will come of that.

Tech’s Next Big Task: Taking the Office Water Cooler Virtual | Katherine Bindley profiles companies trying to counter the lack of chance encounters in a minimum office world, like Donut, Hallway, and Sidekick. Donut and Hallway used Slack as a platform, but add features:

An app called Hallway also uses Slack to foster impromptu interactions, but it takes a different approach. In a Slack channel of the users’ choosing, it posts a video-chat link every couple of hours. The chat only lasts 10 minutes, and is meant to replace those break-room encounters that have dwindled in recent months. Users can launch their own quick video chats with a simple command.

I think Sidekick, an always-on auxiliary device that emulates working side by side with others, has some smart ideas, like having private conversations (‘direct chat’) in a shared room:

Sidekick

But even with the device being provided as part of the subscription, I wonder if people want yet-another-device on their desktop. Why can’t it be an app on an iPad?

This thread lines up with something I discussed in Weak Ties and Brainstorming, recently. We can keep up with those we are strongly connected to, like team members and close friends, but

the chance interactions with others in the company, professional colleagues we used to see at conferences or events, or even random people in coffee shops… those are all in short supply.

The article also mentions workboard company Miro, Microsoft Teams, and other more conventional tools. A good read.

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Email

Via the Becoming Superhuman newsletter from the folks at Stoa Partners (not published on the web, apparently), a short review of the new email client, Hey, from Basecamp. The bottom line?

Worth It?

Not For a While.

Hey definitely solves some salient email pain points. It provides a blank state and gives you complete control over who you receive emails from and how you go about processing them.

The product has flaws, but it’s an MVP. To justify the platform switch and $99 annual subscription, Basecamp will need to iterate and make upgrades quickly.

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Slacklash

The Great Slacklash Is Coming | Alex Kantrowitz has talked to CEOs and VCs who don’t like work chats side effects:

A reckoning for workplace chat apps like Slack and Microsoft Teams is coming; just ask the people who pay for them. As companies deploy these systems en masse — and rely on them to work from home — executives are starting to confront a set of issues that early adopters know well. Workplace chat can amplify corporate infighting, help divide companies like social media divides countries, and facilitate employee organizing. Top executives, not employees, sign the checks for these services. And though they’re unlikely to get rid of them, many will inevitably crack down on their freewheeling nature.

“A lot of my CEO and founder friends talk about this,” one venture capitalist, who asked to remain anonymous because being bearish on Slack would harm his brand, told me. “The problematic employee, the employee who would sit around at the lunchroom and tell people how bad this place is — that’s just happening on Slack, and it’s amplifying.”

I expect a continued transition to async coordination media, away from chat.

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Video Conferencing

Dialpad acquires video conferencing service Highfive| Frederic Lardinois reports on Dialpad’s move into conference room videoconferencing through Highfive buy:

VoIP provider Dialpad, the company behind the popular video conferencing service UberConference, today announced that it has acquired Highfive, a well-funded video conferencing startup that focuses on providing businesses with conference room solutions. The two companies did not disclose the purchase price, but Highfive raised $77.4 million from the likes of Lightspeed Venture Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, General Catalyst and Dimension Data ahead of today’s acquisition.

Dialpad has a video conferencing solution already, UberConference, but Highfive brings a deep commitment to hardware for conference rooms. I guess they are banking on people returning to the office after coronavirus, or maybe they have a plan for a new working-from-home hardware solution, one that is cheap enough to use anywhere, but improves the video call experience?

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Spreadbases

This ambitious low-code tool will change how you use data and share applications | Simon Bisson reports on Project Oakdale in Microsoft Teams.

Building on the Power Platform’s Common Data Service, Project Oakdale is perhaps best compared to tools like Claris Filemaker or Microsoft’s own Access, or even the table-driven data layer in Salesforce: a tool for giving basic access to forms-based content from your line-of-business applications. That’s why it builds on Microsoft’s Common Data Model and Common Data Service, a set of standard business objects and entities that underlie not only Project Oakdale, Power Apps, and Power Automate, but also the CRM and ERP tools in Dynamics 365.

[…]

While Microsoft refers to Project Oakdale as a relational data platform, in practice you’re unlikely to be building complex queries. Instead you approach it much as you would approach something like Access, designing your tables and views early and building applications around them. More complex query structures, like joins, can be used if necessary, but in the context of a low-code, task-specific application built into a team they shouldn’t be needed. If you get your application design right early on, you’re leaving your colleagues code that can be quickly modified and updated by adding new fields and entities to your database and quickly editing any views and queries you’re using.

Initially Project Oakdale will support basic data types, with additional support for files and for images. This way you can build quick applications that support catalogue-style applications, searching for and displaying formatted data based on the contents of a database. That might be a documentation store for a project-focused team, or a list of customer details for a sales team, or a way of sharing class data and files for an educational team. With only one Project Oakdale environment per team you’ll need to scope what you’re storing carefully, although you do get a lot more freedom in how you display that data.

Is this the underpinnings of Microsoft Lists and Outlook Spaces, and are they becoming spreadbases, like Airtable and Notion? More research to follow.

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Elsewhere

Three Meta Patterns in Work Technology | Across all flavors of work technology, we can discern very similar patterns behind the platforms

Work Futures Update | Questions, Not Answers | Minimum Office: Work That Matters, Hub-and-Spoke Model, Parent Backlash, Dress for Zoom | Amazon’s Real Breakthrough |

Key Criteria for Evaluating Collaborative Whiteboards | What I call ‘workboards’, now:

The initial use case for these tools was to implement a whiteboarding experience with a digital emulation, and particularly the collaborative experience of synchronous co-authoring among team members with the digital equivalents of sticky notes, pens, and erasers. Since then, asynchronous creation, management, and information sharing on virtual canvases have emerged as a primary use case. The result: These digital whiteboards (or workboards) increasingly must serve use cases that span work-from-home, work-in-office, synchronous, and asynchronous scenarios.

Workboards are an additional class of collaboration software with some degree of overlap with more well-known kinds of collaboration tools, like work chat (such as Slack and Microsoft Teams), video conferencing (like Zoom and Google Meet), file-sharing platforms (like Box, Dropbox, OneDrive, and Google Drive), and many other kinds of software. As a result, integration with other software platforms is a major aspect of the workboard value proposition and one of the key emerging trends in the marketplace.

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