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Slack’s $2.8 Billion Dollar Secret Sauce

Andrew Wilkinson, of MetaLab, on how his team designed Slack:

In July 2013, I got an email from Stewart Butterfield. I recognized his name immediately. I was a big fan of Flickr, which he co-founded and sold to Yahoo, and we were both based in the Pacific Northwest. He had big news: he was shutting down Glitch, the game he’d started in 2009, and was working on something new. He wanted us to design his new team chat app.

I groaned to myself. We were avid users of Campfire, and had tested out the many copycat products that had come out over the years. I felt the problem had already been solved. It was a crowded market and knew it would be difficult to make his product stand out from the crowd. Regardless, I was excited to get a chance to work with Stewart, and thought it would be fun to solve some of the issues that we•d had with Campfire. We shook hands, kicked things off, and rolled up our sleeves.

When he pulled back the curtain and shared their early prototype on day one, it looked like a hacked together version of IRC in the browser. Barebones and stark. Just six weeks later, we had done some of the best work of our careers. So, how did we get from hacky browser IRC to the Slack we all know and love?

Slack is an amazing success story about a product that came into a fairly saturated market and took it all away by being smarter and better designed. I couldn’t imagine not using Slack every day as we grow our business.