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Salesforce, Slack, the future of work, and a $28billion bargain?

Last week it was announced that Salesforce will be acquiring Slack for almost $28billion! I for one believe that when we look back at this moment, it will be seen as a true moment in time, as a catalyst to changing the way we work forever, and also a bargain!


Firstly, enterprise software driving forward the future of work is not new, however, it is still early days in this market. Salesforce have been one of the key players in this change. In its’ early days, Salesforce founder and CEO Marc Benioff staged now infamous publicity stunts about the end of Software, describing the Cloud as the future. At the time this looked somewhat crazy, but cloud software is now the norm, and continuing to feature at the centre of the future of work. If we look back over the last 10 years, this can be seen really as the building time for Enterprise Cloud Software, with the next decade being about mass adoption and innovation. The market is reflecting this with Slack, Zoom, and Asana to name a few all having IPOs over the last 18 months.

Secondly, the global pandemic has easily accelerated adoption by 5-10 years with more traditional large corporates, that are normally slow to adopt innovative solutions if at all, having their hand forced to introduce tools like Zoom, Box, Slack, and Microsoft Teams.

It is those last two companies that make the next phase of the future of work extremely interesting. Slack and Teams have been in competition for some time, however, despite Slack’s much more user friendly UI/UX and slick design, they cannot match the market share of Microsoft Teams, which as part of Office 365 has over 115 million users worldwide, compared to Slack’s 12 million. However, the acquisition of Slack by Salesforce could well alter that. The team at Slack really know how to build a great product, combine this with Salesforce’s customer base and distribution channels, and suddenly those numbers could become much more balanced.

Described as a match made in heaven by Salesforce Founder, Chair and CEO Marc Benioff, and you can see why. Combining Slack with Salesforce Customer 360 will be transformative for customers and the industry. The combination will potentially create the operating system for the new way to work, enabling companies to grow and succeed in the all-digital world. With it still being the early days of this market, and a recession, it is a good time to acquire a company. When Facebook acquired Instagram for $1billion in 2012, they were a team of only 13, and many could not quite believe the price tag. However, in its own right Instagram is now arguably worth 200-300 times that. If Salesforce do achieve their ambitions then $28billion will look like they got a very good deal!

Finally, as with all crises, the pandemic has been a catalyst for innovation, and it is likely that the result will be that we never return to the way we used to work. Whatever the future of work looks like, we can guarantee that enterprise software will be at its core.