How a Merger of Salesforce and Slack Would Change the SaaS Landscape
The rumor mill churns with whispers Salesforce will acquire Slack. This combination would be strategic for both involved for three reasons.
First, Salesforce and Slack share Microsoft as their most significant competitor. Microsoft Teams’ rapid assault and consequent market power into the corporate instant messaging market transformed the market dynamics in less than 12 months.
Microsoft has amassed the most extensive channel for SaaS companies, and each of these vendors pushes teams to current customers, many of whom are moving to the cloud and relying on Microsoft for guidance.
Combining with Salesforce would enable Slack to sell through Salesforce account executives and the Salesforce channel in addition to their go-to-market efforts. The merger would establish a greater degree of parity in GTM muscle.
Second, Slack + Salesforce enables superior integration of instant messaging workflows into this generation’s essential system of record.
With Teams bundled into Microsoft cloud upgrades and often given away for free as part of a package deal, many CFOs wonder why companies ought to pay a premium for additional instant messaging software. This slash-and-burn market tactic has propelled Team’s rise in market share.
But as instant messaging has evolved, many users and buyers have realized the most valuable mode d’emploi streamlines internal workflows. Better workflows rebut the premium instant messaging objection.
The Slack ecosystem has blossomed with some startups leveraging the platform’s distribution. But imagine if Slack integrated natively into the entirety of the Salesforce ecosystem. Sales acceleration, marketing, finance tools all built on Salesforce data with Slack delivering the user interface. That’s justification for an upgrade.
For Salesforce, the value proposition resonates, too. Today, AEs use Salesforce a few times per day at most - and then begrudgingly. Slack is a perpetual background process used many times per hour. User engagement could catalyze Salesforce upgrades. Salesforce benefitted from Chatter’s launch a decade ago. But there isn’t as much chatter on Chatter as Salesforce might have hoped. Slack remedies that deficiency instantly.
Third, the next horizon for instant messaging is the development of custom workflows within large enterprises. These workflows require platforms-as-a-service (PaaS) products that simplify development. Engineers need databases and execution environments for this code. Microsoft has been pushing in this direction for the last nine months with Dataflex.
Salesforce owns Heroku, a platform-as-a-service, that would serve as a developer-friendly substrate for engineers to develop key workflows that combine the Slack UI with Salesforce’s massive data repository and a broad ecosystem of inter-related marketing, finance, and sales data.
Coincidentally, this thesis of combining messaging with custom workflows led to our investment in Mattermost, an open-source messaging platform focused on developer workflows like incident response, chat ops, and social coding. I believe in this convergence.
For non-technical teams, a Salesforce and Slack merger would provide the ecosystem with a worthy competitor to Microsoft Teams and the broader Microsoft ecosystem. Plus, the combination would complement and reinforce the value propositions of both. If the merger does happen, it would reshape the SaaS landscape.