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Slack will integrate more bots to become the WeChat for work

Oscar Raymundo | March 17, 2016
Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield told SXSW that the average users spends over two hours a day actively chatting on the popular for-work messaging app.

“If there was ever a company to take all the way—with its success so far and the potential for the future—this one’s it,” Butterfield said. Previously, he was a co-founder at Flickr, now owned by Yahoo. Earlier this month, news surfaced that Microsoft was looking to acquire Slack for $8 billion, but ultimately nixed the idea and invested that money into Skype.

Siding with Apple on privacy and security

The Slack CEO also addressed a recent string of incidents where internal work conversations in the app have been made public either through media leaks or court orders. Despite these incidents, Butterfield still believes that Slack is a more secure method of communicating sensitive information than, say, text messages.

“We have had companies conducting business over text messages, and [in the case of a legal situation] wouldn’t you prefer to hand over just your workplace messages in Slack and keep texts private,” Butterfield said. He reminded the audience of the sexual discrimination lawsuit at Tinder that was substantiated by personal text messages.

Butterfield even mentioned Macworld contributor Glenn Fleishman and his idea to potentially prevent Slack convos from being leaked. Glenn tweeted that Slack could implement embedding a unique pixel to see every time a message had been screenshot. However, the CEO said that Slack is not considering such feature.

When asked about Apple’s recent privacy turmoil with the FBI, Butterfield said that Slack had filed an amicus brief in support of Apple. Slack joins other tech companies, like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, in offering public support for Tim Cook.

“I don’t agree with the government compelling Apple to do that kind of work,” he said. “Given all the things the NSA has done in the past, it seems well within the bounds [to hack into Syed Farook’s iPhone]. This seems like a cherry-picked case to get public sympathy.”

Butterfield pointed out that because Slack is an internal communication platform, it’s inherently more secure. The company has no plans to create a product intended for external messaging.

“[Opening it up] makes it more susceptible to things like spamming, phishing, hacking, and excessive LinkedIn requests,” he said.


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