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這家公司有底氣叫板微軟

Aaron Pressman 2019年07月21日

Slack的首席執行官表示,自家公司有一些微軟并不具備的優勢。

企業信息服務公司Slack的首席執行官斯圖爾特·巴特菲爾德表示,盡管自家公司的用戶數量與主要競爭對手微軟相比處于劣勢,但也有一些微軟并不具備的優勢。

巴特菲爾德于本周一在科羅拉多州阿斯彭舉行的《財富》科技頭腦風暴大會上接受采訪時說:“公司很難維持將自身精力真正專注于品質和用戶體驗,而且公司規模越大,維持的難度就越大。”

自從五年前首次推出其信息服務應用以來,Slack已經迅速成為備受歡迎的郵件通訊替代方式,它吸引了150個國家的60萬名客戶。但公司也面臨著微軟這一強大的對手,后者是企業辦公軟件的領先提供商,其中包括Outlook郵件服務和類似于Slack的Teams信息服務應用程序。

當被問及其公司是否存在被微軟碾壓的危險時,巴特菲爾德指出,微軟在年輕時便在IBM的強勢領域里超越了IBM。巴特菲爾德還表示,然后谷歌又在互聯網搜索領域里打敗了微軟,當時谷歌還只是一家初創企業。隨后,微軟又在社交領域里輸給了當時還十分弱小的Facebook。

他說:“從中我們可以看到,那些對客戶有著強大吸引力的小公司在某些情況下相對于多線作戰的大型公司有著一定的優勢。”另一方面,“很多(小)公司也遭到了大公司的碾壓。”

微軟披露,Teams——Slack的競爭對手——已經擁有了1300萬日活躍用戶。這個數字至少高于Slack最近披露的截至今年1月的1000萬活躍用戶。受此影響,Slack的股票上周在一天之內下跌了4%。

上個月,微軟禁止其雇員在內部使用Slack,稱該應用程序存在安全隱患。在歷史上,微軟一直都借助其廣泛的產品以及與全球幾乎所有首要公司的關系網,來打壓競爭對手。

但巴特菲爾德還表揚了其競爭對手,稱微軟“是一家了不起的公司”,而且其Azure云服務部門一直都是Slack的“優秀合作伙伴”。Slack將Azure作為其自身服務的基石。

巴特菲爾德在評價微軟時說:“這家公司的規模太大了,結果不得不與全球各類公司進行競爭。不管微軟會采取何種方式,我們對客戶的承諾不會變化……微軟怎么做真的沒有多大關系。”

Slack是今年眾多上市的知名科技公司之一,其他公司還包括Lyft、Uber、Pinterest、Zoom Video和PagerDuty。然而,其他公司都采取了傳統的華爾街首次公開募股來上市,期間,由多家銀行組成的財團將向投資者銷售新股,然后在收取一定費用后將現金收益交給上市公司。但Slack采用了直接上市的方式,并未發行任何新股,只是簡單地允許包括其雇員在內的現有股東在發售中銷售其股票。

巴特菲爾德表示,Slack基本上并未照搬傳統的IPO路線,因為公司無需籌集更多的資金。

他說:“在過去五年中,我們利用了非常寬松的籌資環境,而且資產負債表規模已經超過8億美元。我們并不需要籌集任何資金,但我們仍然希望上市。”(財富中文網)

譯者:馮豐

審校: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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