Have you heard the news? Amazon is interested in potentially buying Slack for $9 billion.
The reaction from media outlets seems to be one of mild bewilderment—“Is Amazon Crazy for Wanting to Buy Slack for $9 Billion?” asks The Next Web—but I think it actually makes perfect sense. Here’s why.
1. Google doesn’t need Slack.
Google has its own chat product. Not only have they invested a lot in it over the years, but they’ve also recently revamped Hangouts Chat to compete with Slack. Additionally, their chat products are tightly integrated with the rest of their G Suite platform. This is something Google does well—although they definitely missed the boat on some of the key features that Slack brought to market—but this isn’t a weak spot for Google. It’s actually in their DNA.
2. Microsoft doesn’t think they need it.
According to TechCrunch, Microsoft considered acquiring Slack for as much as $8 billion last year, but Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and CEO Satya Nadella were “among those unconvinced by the idea.” Instead, Microsoft built its own chat and collaboration platform, Teams, which was rolled out earlier this year. It’s not as good as it should be. From what Office 365 customers tell me, adoption isn’t that strong. People aren’t using it to truly run their business and communicate and collaborate internally. If it wasn’t for Teams, Microsoft would likely still make a run at Slack, but it doesn’t feel like their leadership team is willing to admit that they actually need it.
3. Facebook is too early in enterprise.
They have Workplace by Facebook—which by most accounts is a pretty strong product—but it’s still early. In my opinion, Facebook is better off buying a company like Dropbox or Box and extending their offering, rather than doubling down in an area they already offer. It would be an aggressive move and would give them access to millions of customers, but it just doesn’t seem to be in the cards.
4. Salesforce doesn’t make sense.
At first glance, Slack would actually be a great fit for Salesforce. It’s in a similar vein to other Salesforce acquisitions, like last year’s purchase of Quip. (Salesforce bought the collaborative productivity software suite for $582 million—$750 million if you include cash incentives.) But for Salesforce to pay $9 billion for Slack doesn’t quite make sense. Salesforce is a multi-billion dollar business, and it doesn’t feel like they could take the gamble unless Slack brought much more revenue to the table.
5. Amazon is perfect for Slack.
This leads to me Amazon. Amazon has a massive cloud business and already has “its toe in the software application door.” It has email and calendaring (WorkMail), enterprise document storage and sharing (WorkDocs), and online meeting/video call software (Chime). That said, I have yet to speak to anyone who uses any of these products. The Slack acquisition would give Amazon a robust end user application. It also fits their style. Slack is very self-service: There isn’t a ton of support internally at Slack, and Amazon would build an ecosystem around it. In my opinion, Amazon should buy Slack and Salesforce and try to build a suite to rival that of Microsoft. Amazon has won over the IT crowd with AWS, and it feels like an obvious next step to own the application layer.