How developer’s first failure became Flickr ($25m, kerching!) and second, Slack (future TBC)

Slack’s Vancouver office

A good piece on Slack from The New York Times

Slack is the product of Mr. Butterfield’s second failed attempt to make a video game. His first, called Game Neverending, had a photo-sharing feature that became more popular than the game. It became Flickr, which was sold to Yahoo for $25 million in 2005. In 2011, he introduced another game, Glitch, in which people cooperated to build a shared world. (Misbehaving players got a timeout.) At its height, the game was costing the company $500,000 a month and bringing in $30,000, so Mr. Butterfield shuttered it in late 2012. A few employees stayed on to build out the messaging platform that Glitch engineers had used to talk among themselves. That project became Slack.

But …

The battle between Slack and its competitors is essentially a fight over who will make the next piece of workplace software that no one can live without. Many businesses, large and small, depend on Excel from Microsoft, Photoshop from Adobe and Gmail from Google. Slack wants to be in that pantheon — as the place where people collaborate and hang out online, the world’s virtual conference room and water cooler.

Slack’s name — an acronym for Searchable Log of All Conversation and Knowledge — underscores its big ambition. But to become a Microsoft-size success it needs workers to choose Slack over its competitors. “Companies want their employees to collaborate more, because better collaboration reduces the need to jump ship,” said Sean Ryan, the head of partnerships at Facebook’s Workplace. “The No. 1 reason people leave their jobs is they feel isolated.”