It’s good to be part of the Slack ecosystem. Our bot MailClark is among 600 third-party apps that work on Slack. I like to say we get all the benefits of a flea on the back of an elephant; the beast moves, eats, or grows, and so do we.
But even that metaphor has its limits. Slack wants us there, and it goes out of its way to care for us. Take, for instance, the $80 million venture fund it formed last year exclusively for apps. It already spent $2 million funding companies with apps that work on Slack, typically awarding around $100,000 per company.
Funds like that are old news for larger, more established companies like Microsoft or Google — a way to put fingers in more pots, have an early say in youthful industries, or spice up their hedged assets with a bit of risk. But it’s surprising for a young company like Slack, even with its triple unicorn status. Its funding is still a tiny fraction of its valuation. Why isn’t it spending that money on growing into some of that perceived value, rather than passing it straight through to other apps? What is Slack doing?