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Number of Slack users soars, but Enterprise Grid adoption unclear

More than 8 million people use Slack every day, and 3 million people are paid subscribers. The startup now has paid Slack users in two-thirds of the Fortune 100.

Slack continues to gain free and paid users at an impressive clip even as Microsoft, Cisco and other legacy unified communications vendors pour resources into competing team collaboration platforms.

More than 8 million people at more than 500,000 organizations worldwide use Slack on a daily basis, up from 6 million daily active Slack users in September 2017, the startup announced this week. The team-based messaging product launched in 2013.

Most notable, the latest user figures show teams and companies are increasingly willing to pay for Slack. The platform has more than 3 million paid users and 70,000 paid teams, compared to 2 million paid users and 50,000 paid teams eight months ago.

Slack's developer ecosystem also continues to expand, with more than 200,000 developers building on the platform every week. The Slack app store offers 1,500 integrations with third-party software-as-a-service business and storage tools like Salesforce and Google Drive.

Slack has been less forthcoming about the adoption of Enterprise Grid, a product designed to let large companies unite and manage Slack teams within a single instance. In January, the company said 150 organizations had purchased Grid, but this week's announcement made no reference of the product. 

"They note 70,000 paid teams, which is impressive, but the absence of any specific mention of Enterprise Grid makes me wonder if they have had success in selling it, and thus their enterprise penetration is still largely happening at the team level," said Irwin Lazar, analyst at Nemertes Research.

Enterprise Grid is designed for large companies, while Slack's main product is targeted at small and midsize businesses, as well as individual teams. Slack announced more than 65% of Fortune 100 companies are paid Slack users, but did not specify how many of those customers had enterprise-wide deployments, or how many were using Grid.

Slack users multiply in face of growing competition

Dozens of cloud-based team collaboration apps -- similar to Slack -- have launched over the past couple years, such as Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex Teams, Google Hangouts Chat and Atlassian Stride. Users value how these apps facilitate messaging, file sharing and online meetings in a single interface.

Microsoft announced in March that 200,000 organizations were using Teams. But that figure includes Skype for Business Online customers that are only running pilot programs with a handful of users, and Microsoft did not reveal the number of daily active users.

Analysts expect Slack's reputation as a market leader will help the startup remain competitive against large technology vendors, at least in the near term. For now, Slack has far more third-party integrations than any other team collaboration app.  

Word-of-mouth freemium downloads remain critical to Slack's success

The software maker Autodesk decided to deploy Slack across the entire company a couple years ago after discovering 85 separate teams had already begun using the app. Autodesk now has 8,900 registered Slack users, of which 5,500 to 6,000 are active every month.

Guy Martin, Autodesk's director of open source, said his team researched other team collaboration apps before deploying Slack. The company values Slack's many integrations, as well as the ability to make messaging channels public by default, to encourage collaboration among departments.

Martin, who spoke with TechTarget in an interview coordinated by Slack, has stayed abreast of upgrades to Slack competitors like Microsoft Teams. But, at this point, Autodesk is unlikely to switch apps without the buy-in from employees, he said.

"We clearly saw the adoption of Slack from an organic, viral perspective," Martin said. "I'm much less concerned about chasing tools versus understanding what makes the most sense for our community.

"Trying to dictate tool usage from the top down for a tool that doesn't meet the user community's needs is always a challenge," he added.

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