슬랙(Slack), 투자유치로 기업가치 7조대로 높아져

[외신]슬랙(Slack), 투자유치로 기업가치 7조대로 높아져

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기업용 메신저 ‘슬랙(Slack)’이 투자유치에 성공하면서 기업 가치가 $7 billion(약 7조 8천억 원) 가까이 뛰어오를 것으로 보인다.

슬랙은 마이크로소프트 ‘팀즈(Teams)’ 같은 대형업체들의 경쟁 속에서도 빠른 성장을 이어가고 있다. 최근 슬랙은 DAU(하루 실사용자 수)가 800만을 넘어섰고, 이중 300만 이상은 비용을 지불하는 유료 버전을 사용하는 것으로 알려졌다.

슬랙은 하반기에 들어서 $400 million(약 4천4백억 원) 규모의 투자금 조달에 성공했고, 이후 기업가치는 지난해 9월 대비 $2 billion(약 2조 2천억 원) 많은 $7 billion(약 7조 8천억 원)으로 높아질 것으로 전망된다.

이번 투자에는 제네럴 아틀란틱(General Atlantic), 드래곤니어(Dragoneer) 등 세계 굴지의 투자 회사들이 참여한 것으로 알려졌다.

한편, 테크크런치(TechCrunch)는 이번 슬랙 투자 건을 중심으로 사내 메신저 시장에 대해 분석했다.

첫째, 사내 메신저는 변화하고 있다. 소비자화(Consumerization) 시대가 펼쳐지면서 기존에 사무적이던 메일, 전화, 회의와 같은 소통 방식들이 점점 자유로워지고 있다. 앱 간 연동을 통해 GIF 같은 자료를 불러올 수 있고, 업무 외 가벼운 대화도 함께 할 수 있는 플랫폼으로 진화하고 있다. 현재 왓츠앱(WhatsApp) 사용자 수가 15억 명 이상인 것으로 보았을 때, 사내 협업 툴의 발전 가능성은 무궁무진해 보인다.

둘째, 사내 메신저 시장에서 슬랙은 업계 전체를 대표할 만큼 다양한 기업들에서 활용하고 있다. 캐피털 원(Capital One), 이베이(eBay), IBM, 21세기 폭스(21st Century Fox)와 같은 대기업을 포함해 7만 개 이상의 회사에서 슬랙의 유료 버전을 사용하고 있다. 국가별로는 100개국 이사에서 매일 슬랙을 활용하고 있는 것으로 나타났고, 하루 실 사용자 중 절반 이상은 영국, 일본, 독일, 프랑스, 인도를 중심으로 접속한다.

셋째, 슬랙과 경쟁 구도를 이룰 업체들이 계속해 등장하고 있다. 마이크로소프트의 팀즈, 페이스북(Facebook) 워크플레이스(Workplace) 등이 대표적인데, 이용자 확보를 위해 경쟁이 치열해질 것으로 전망된다.

테크크런치는 “슬랙이 기존 대기업에서 출시된 광범위하고 복잡한 사내 메신저와 비교해 가볍고 신속하게 적용될 수 있기 때문에 선두 자리를 유지할 것으로 보인다”라며 “회사 직원 규모는 1천 명 정도로 파악되는데 슬랙은 하반기 중 IPO에는 나서지 않을 것으로 보이고, 서비스를 발전에 중점을 둘 것”이라고 말했다.

Slack — the app that lets coworkers and others in professional circles chat with each other and call in data from hundreds of integrated apps in the name of getting more work done (or at least procrastinating in an entertaining way) — has been on a growth tear in the last few years, most recently passing 8 million daily active users, 3 million of them paying. Now, the company is planning to capitalise on that with some more funding.

TechCrunch has learned that Slack is raising another round, this time in the region of $400 million or possibly more, with a post-money valuation of at least $7 billion — adding a whopping $2 billion on top of the company’s last valuation in September 2017, when SoftBank led a $250 million round at a $5.1 billion valuation.

We’ve heard from multiple sources that a new investor, General Atlantic, is leading this round, with possibly another new backer, Dragoneer, also in the mix. It’s not clear which other investors might be involved; the company counts no less than 41 other backers on its cap table already, according to PitchBook. (You might even say Several People Are Funding…) We also don’t know whether this round has closed.

At $400 million, this would make it Slack’s biggest round to date. That size underscores a few different things.

First, it points to the existing opportunity in enterprise messaging. Consumerisation has taken hold, and apps that let users easily start and carry on a mix of serious and diverting conversations, infused with GIFs or whatever data they might need from other applications, are vying to replace other ways that people communicate in the workplace, such as email, phone conferences and in-person chats, even when people are in the same vicinity as each other. With consumer messaging apps like WhatsApp topping 1.5 billion users, there’s plenty of room for enterprise messaging to grow.

Second, the round and valuation emphasize Slack’s position as a leader in this area. While there were other enterprise social networking apps in existence before Slack first launched in 2013 — Yammer, Hipchat and Socialcast among them — nothing had struck a chord quite as Slack did. “Things have been going crazy”, was how co-founder and CEO Stewart Butterfield described it to me when Slack exited beta: teams trialling it were seeing usage from “every single team member, every day.”

That growth pace has continued. Today, the company counts 70,000 paid teams including Capital One, eBay, IBM, 21st Century Fox, and 65 percent of Fortune 100 companies among its bigger users; and with customers in 100 countries, half of its DAUs are outside North America (UK, Japan, Germany, France and India are its biggest international markets).

But thirdly — and this could be key when considering how this funding will be used — Slack is not the only game in town.

Software giant Microsoft has launched Teams, and social networking behemoth Facebook has Workplace. Using their respective dominance in enterprise software and social mechanics, these two have stolen a march on picking up some key customer wins among businesses that have opted for products that are more natural fits with what their employees were already using. Microsoft reported 200,000 paying organizations earlier this year, and Facebook has snagged some very large customers like Walmart.

Slack’s bottom-up distribution strategy could give it an edge against these larger companies and their broader but more complex products. The lightweight nature of Slack’s messaging-first approach allows it more easily be inserted into a company’s office stack. Nearly every type of employee needs office messaging, creating the potential for Slack to serve as an identity layer for enterprise software, not to mention the platform where not only people, but the information that exists in separate apps, converges. Its own Slack Fund invests in potential companies that plug in, as the company hopes to build an ecosystem of partners that can fill in missing functionality.

Alongside dozens of other, smaller rivals offering comparative mixes of tools, it’s no surprise that last month Slack tightened up its bootlaces to take on the role of consolidator, snapping up IP and shutting down Hipchat and Stride from Atlassian, with the latter taking a stake in Slack as part of the deal.

Slack, which has a relatively modest 1,000+ employees, has ruled out an IPO this year, so this latest round will help it shore up cash in the meantime to continue growing, and competing.

Contacted for this story, Slack said that it does not comment on rumors or speculation.

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