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这家公司有底气叫板微软

Aaron Pressman 2019年07月21日

Slack的首席执行官表示,自家公司有一些微软并不具备的优势。

企业信息服务公司Slack的首席执行官斯图尔特·巴特菲尔德表示,尽管自家公司的用户数量与主要竞争对手微软相比处于劣势,但也有一些微软并不具备的优势。

巴特菲尔德于本周一在科罗拉多州阿斯彭举行的《财富》科技头脑风暴大会上接受采访时说:“公司很难维持将自身精力真正专注于品质和用户体验,而且公司规模越大,维持的难度就越大。”

自从五年前首次推出其信息服务应用以来,Slack已经迅速成为备受欢迎的邮件通讯替代方式,它吸引了150个国家的60万名客户。但公司也面临着微软这一强大的对手,后者是企业办公软件的领先提供商,其中包括Outlook邮件服务和类似于Slack的Teams信息服务应用程序。

当被问及其公司是否存在被微软碾压的危险时,巴特菲尔德指出,微软在年轻时便在IBM的强势领域里超越了IBM。巴特菲尔德还表示,然后谷歌又在互联网搜索领域里打败了微软,当时谷歌还只是一家初创企业。随后,微软又在社交领域里输给了当时还十分弱小的Facebook。

他说:“从中我们可以看到,那些对客户有着强大吸引力的小公司在某些情况下相对于多线作战的大型公司有着一定的优势。”另一方面,“很多(小)公司也遭到了大公司的碾压。”

微软披露,Teams——Slack的竞争对手——已经拥有了1300万日活跃用户。这个数字至少高于Slack最近披露的截至今年1月的1000万活跃用户。受此影响,Slack的股票上周在一天之内下跌了4%。

上个月,微软禁止其雇员在内部使用Slack,称该应用程序存在安全隐患。在历史上,微软一直都借助其广泛的产品以及与全球几乎所有首要公司的关系网,来打压竞争对手。

但巴特菲尔德还表扬了其竞争对手,称微软“是一家了不起的公司”,而且其Azure云服务部门一直都是Slack的“优秀合作伙伴”。Slack将Azure作为其自身服务的基石。

巴特菲尔德在评价微软时说:“这家公司的规模太大了,结果不得不与全球各类公司进行竞争。不管微软会采取何种方式,我们对客户的承诺不会变化……微软怎么做真的没有多大关系。”

Slack是今年众多上市的知名科技公司之一,其他公司还包括Lyft、Uber、Pinterest、Zoom Video和PagerDuty。然而,其他公司都采取了传统的华尔街首次公开募股来上市,期间,由多家银行组成的财团将向投资者销售新股,然后在收取一定费用后将现金收益交给上市公司。但Slack采用了直接上市的方式,并未发行任何新股,只是简单地允许包括其雇员在内的现有股东在发售中销售其股票。

巴特菲尔德表示,Slack基本上并未照搬传统的IPO路线,因为公司无需筹集更多的资金。

他说:“在过去五年中,我们利用了非常宽松的筹资环境,而且资产负债表规模已经超过8亿美元。我们并不需要筹集任何资金,但我们仍然希望上市。”(财富中文网)

译者:冯丰

审校:夏林

Corporate messaging service Slack has some advantages over its chief rival, Microsoft, despite Slack having fewer users, CEO Stewart Butterfield says.

“It’s hard to maintain a real focus on quality, on user experience, and the bigger you get the harder it is,” Butterfield said in an interview at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, Colo. on Monday.

Since debuting its workplace messaging app five years ago, Slack has quickly become a popular alternative to communicating by email, attracting 600,000 customers in 150 countries. But it faces a tough adversary in Microsoft, the leading provider of corporate office software, including Outlook email and the Slack-like Teams messaging app.

Asked whether his company was in danger of being crushed by Microsoft, Butterfield pointed out that a young Microsoft overtook IBM at the height of its domination. Then Google defeated Microsoft in Internet search when it was just an upstart, Butterfield noted, and then was itself defeated in social networking by the then-tiny Facebook.

“The lesson that we take from that is that a smaller company if it has real traction with customers in some cases has a bit of an advantage against a large incumbent with multiple lines of business,” he said. On the other hand, “there’s plenty of (small) companies have been crushed, as well,” he conceded.

Slack’s stock lost 4% in one day last week after Microsoft disclosed it had 13 million daily active users for its competing app, Teams. That’s more than Slack, at least according to its most recent disclosure as of the end of January, when it had 10 million such users.

And last month, Microsoft banned its own employees from using Slack internally, citing potential security concerns. Microsoft has a long track record of defeating rivals with the help of its vast array of offerings and connections with almost every major company in the world.

But Butterfield also praised his rival, saying Microsoft was “an incredible company” and that its Azure cloud services unit has been “a great partner” for Slack. Slack uses Azure as a backbone for its own service.

“They’re big enough that they end up working with and competing with all kinds of people around the world,” Butterfield said of Microsoft. “Whatever Microsoft does, we’re still going to do the same thing for customers…it doesn’t really matter what Microsoft does.”

Slack was among a wave of notable tech companies that have gone public this year including Lyft, Uber, Pinterest, Zoom Video, and PagerDuty. But all of the others did a traditional Wall Street initial public offering, in which a syndicate of banks sells new shares to investors and then delivers the proceeds to the company—minus fees. But Slack did a direct listing, issuing no new shares and simply allowing its existing shareholders, including its employees, to sell their holdings in the offering.

Slack didn’t go the traditional IPO route largely because it didn’t need to raise any more money, Butterfield said.

“We took advantage of the very generous funding environment over the last five years and had over $800 million on the balance sheet,” he said. “We didn’t need to raise any money, but we still wanted to be public.”

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