Slack, the IRC-for-enterprise company that's become one of those storied few to achieve a $1 billion valuation in its first year, has bought screen-sharing collaboration startup Screenhero with an eye toward adding valuable new communications capabilities to its software.
The deal, which was for an undisclosed sum of cash and stocks, sees YCombinator alum Screenhero's six-person team joining Slack to add screensharing, video chat and voice conferencing to the company's core enterprise chat room service.
Screenhero is designed to let big teams work together like small teams and has found a dedicated customer base with developers, help desk workers and anybody else who has to work together.
That's a smart alignment with Slack's own sales pitch. In fact, Screenhero CEO and co-founder Jahanzeb Sherwani said that 50% of Screenhero's own customers are also Slack customers, even as both companies made use of each others' products interally. He added that the company was "under no pressure to sell," but decided that cozying up with Slack would allow Screenhero to do more with its core concept faster.
It sounds like a match made in "in a Reese's factory," quipped Slack CEO and co-founder Stewart Butterfield.
Under this deal, Screenhero will continue to operate as a separate entity, and people can use it as they always have been. But eventually, Sherwani said, all of its features will make it into Slack and the standalone product will be discontinued.
Butterfield said that it's just a natural progression for Slack as it goes after "bigger and weirder" companies. You can still use whatever external services you'd like for video, voice and screen sharing, per Slack's emphasis on supporting as many services as a customer might want to use with slick native integrations. But Butterfield wants to ensure that out of the box, Slack customers get something broadly useful for collaboration without having to go through the effort.
"It won't hurt our feelings at all if you go with Skype or [Google] Hangouts," Butterfield said.
The real danger for Slack as it grows is to build more features without stepping on the ecosystem of vendors who support it by adding features that eat their lunch. But Butterfield suggested that people like having the choice, and Slack isn't slowing the pace of building compatibilities: A long-awaited Box cloud storage integration is in the works, for starters.
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