Slack CEO: Microsoft Surprisingly Unsportsmanlike

Moshe Beauford

Post-IPO Slack responds to Microsoft Teams' 13 million daily active user claim

Slack CEO: Microsoft Surprisingly Unsportsmanlike

Addressing its competition in the collaboration space, Slack CEO, Stewart Butterfield, last week said: “I think they feel like we’re an existential threat.” He shared this and plenty of other thoughts on stage at the Wall Street Journal’s Tech Live conference in California. The Canadian entrepreneur presented bold claims of Microsoft’s numbers being misleading, figures we reported back July.

Microsoft said its Teams app reached 13 million daily active users, making it ahead of Slack, which in October reported 12 million daily active users. Slack CEO said they have the metrics to support its users were more engaged with Slack. The timing for the rebuttal comes during a period Slack can now speak out. You see, Microsoft made its 13 million daily active user announcement during Slack’s pre-IPO quiet phase, a period when Slack could not respond to the industry news.

Are Microsoft’s Numbers Misleading?

To Slack CEO, the answer is yes. Butterfield maintained Microsoft’s figures were ‘a little bit misleading in terms of what they’re measuring.’ What he means, is that Teams work in conjunction with other popular Microsoft products. That number of 13 million active users, therefore, may include users who do not use Teams daily. “There’s a very aggressive push to get people in there,” Butterfield added.

Microsoft Antitrust Issues

Microsoft is no stranger to drama, and back in the 90s, the software giant faced investigations for violating antitrust laws in the United States. Butterfield shared with attendees: “We see things like paying companies to use Teams and that leans on a lot of existing market power. Maybe it’s something we should have a look at but we haven’t taken any action.”

To which Microsoft responded: “We have been building and evolving our collaboration offerings in Office 365 for over a decade, and have learned throughout that time that people choose apps and services based on how they want to work. Over 13 million people at over 500,000 organizations choose Teams every day because it provides a single hub for everything teams need – chat, video conferencing and calling, their Office files, and apps, all backed by industry-leading security and compliance capabilities. We continue to evolve Teams to help our customers transform their cultures and businesses for the new world of work.”

The Slack CEO also did some simple math on stage when he stated:

“If you look at our top 50 biggest customers, 70 percent of them are not only Office 365 users but they are Office 365 users who use the integrations with Slack”

Competing with Microsoft Teams

Since Slack only focuses on collaboration efforts and doesn’t dip its toes into other business models, Butterfield said he sees this as an advantage that lets them focus on enhancing one cloud offering that caters specifically to end-user requirements and nothing extraneous.

I believe this is also one of Slack’s many advantages, but Microsoft recently announced a slew of new and updated features to its Teams platform, which is sure to provide Slack with even further competition when it comes to setting its workplace collaboration app apart from the likes of Teams.


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