Factbox: What is Slack?

(Reuters) - Slack Technologies Inc, whose instant messaging app has taken workplaces by storm, went public via a direct listing on June 20, instead of the more popular initial public offering route.

The stock price of Slack Technologies Inc. trading under the symbol (WORK) is seen on a display above the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) during the company's IPO in New York, U.S. June 20, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Unlike a traditional IPO in which companies sell shares to raise proceeds, a direct listing is a way for existing shareholders to sell stock.

Here are some facts about Slack.

E-mail Killer?

Slack is an internet-based platform that allows teams and businesses to communicate with each other. It organizes discussions by topic and group, is similar to instant messaging chatrooms, and allows cooperation on documents and files.

Launched in 2013, Slack has replaced e-mail discussions at many companies, although e-mail is still the dominant medium of communication in workplaces.

Diverse Clients:

The San Francisco-based company, whose customers include Electronic Arts Inc, Nordstrom Inc and Ford Motor Co, said it ended the first quarter with 95,000 paid customers.

Slack had more than 500,000 organizations on its free subscription plan, as of Jan. 31.

As of April 30, Slack had 645 paid customers with over $100,000 in annual recurring revenue, an 84% increase from a year earlier, and these large customers accounted for 43% of its total revenue.

Slack also said it had over 10 million daily active users.

Rising Competition:

Its closest competitor is Microsoft Teams, a free chat add-on for Microsoft Corp’s Office365 users. Other similar platforms include Google Hangouts, Workplace by Facebook and Cisco Systems Inc’s Webex Teams.

The global market for workplace collaboration is expected to hit $3.2 billion by 2021, according to research firm IDC.

Loss Making:

Slack reported an adjusted operating loss of $33.8 million for the quarter, compared with a $20.2 million loss a year earlier.

The company’s total revenue grew 67% to $134.8 million in the first quarter.

Slack expects second-quarter revenue to grow 51% to 53% to a range of $139 million to $141 million, with an adjusted loss of between $77 million and $75 million.


The company’s shares soared nearly 60% in their public trading debut on Thursday, valuing it at more than $25 billion. The stock soared to more than $41 at midday on Thursday from the New York Stock Exchange’s reference price of $26 apiece.

Slack’s trading price gave it a valuation of more than 50 times revenue. That multiple is lower than for other tech company IPOs like Zoom Video Communications Inc, which trades at 88 times revenue, but is very high considering that Slack is not yet profitable, said Kathleen Smith, a principal and manager of IPO ETFs at Renaissance Capital.

Slack was hoping for a valuation of more than $10 billion in the listing, Reuters had previously reported.


Slack’s biggest shareholders include Accel, an investor in Facebook and Dropbox, which holds 24%, followed by Andreessen Horowitz, with 13.3%. Japanese conglomerate SoftBank owns 7.3%.

Fewer Advisers:

The company has hired Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Allen & Co to be financial advisers on the direct listing, which requires a fraction of the number of banks compared to an IPO.

Reporting by Arjun Panchadar, Saumya Sibi Joseph and Arundhati Sarkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta