Tom Talks Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365 news and opinions

Slack CEO doesn’t see Microsoft Teams as a Threat? That just doesn’t make sense

After Microsoft announced 13 million daily active users for Microsoft Teams, Slack founder and CEO Stewart Butterfield said he’s not worried about the rapid growth of Microsoft Teams. “If it’s based on the bigger distribution [Office 365], I don’t think that’s really a threat,”  said Butterfield at a Brainstorm Tech 2019 Conference (YouTube video) on Monday, reported by CNBC.

The CNBC key points say it all for me


Butterfield tries to make comparisons to Google vs Bing and Google trying to do social with Google+, but for my money, this is missing some key points

  • Microsoft is bundling Teams into Office 365. in which they already have a much bigger incumbent Office 365 user base of 180 million monthly active users.
  • Microsoft has a massive focus on security, compliance. Security and compliance are key to the enterprise.
  • Microsoft has the benefits of being tightly tied into Microsoft 365, OneDrive and SharePoint and Stream being part of the native Microsoft Team experience.
  • Slack ultimately has to be not just as good as Teams, but much better to justify Office 365 customers paying for it on top of Office 365, which is what most enterprises will have.
  • Microsoft is driving their massive investment in Azure infrastructure and AI into the Microsoft Teams experience

To be clear, I think Microsoft is at its best when there is competition. Microsoft Teams is not perfect. There are some real benefits to being a company focused on just one thing, you see great innovation and user experience from companies like Slack and Zoom. I wish no ill will on Slack, but saying Teams is not a thread is just not credible in my humble opinion.

Agree, Disagree? I’m interested to hear your thoughts.

About the author

Tom Arbuthnot

A Microsoft MVP and Microsoft Certified Master, Tom Arbuthnot is Principal Solutions Architect at Microsoft Collaboration specialists Modality Systems.

Tom stays up to date with industry developments and shares news and his opinions on his blog, Microsoft Teams Podcast and email list. He is a regular speaker at events around the world.


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  • Very interesting, however there are three things that spring to my mind.
    1) Slack’s 10 million number was in January, while Microsoft’s number is from July.
    2) Out of the 180 million people who can have Teams for free, only 13 million decided to use it. We have no idea about the engagement of those users, unlike with Slack.
    3) The fact Teams is free actually allows Slack to differentiate on quality rather than on price, given that Teams does not eat up any part of a company’s IT budget.

  • I agree completely. But I do suspect his comments are more for shareholder reassurance than an actual assessment of the competition. Though, this may be a short sighted approach.

  • Don’t agree.

    Will they lose some customers in the Enterprise to teams? Yup.

    Does the Enterprise actually matter anymore? Nope.

    Most Enterprise are way behind the curve, are still relying on desktop programs, are using Office because “that’s what you should do”, and not because it’s the best tool (hint: docs should be replaced by wikis and intranet content pages with versioning, spreadsheets replaced but CRUD based database access and analytics)

    Am I delusional? Sure. Just like it would be crazy to think that consumer tech would start dictating Enterprise tech. Or that Android and Chromebooks would overtake the Enterprise. Or that SMB would be a larger market. Oh, wait, all that is true…

    So yeah, sorry, but the Enterprise might be where large CHUNKS of money come from, but it’s small in scale. Today it’s the consumer market that provides the larger share of income at scale.

  • I would love to see the numbers to back up your statements. Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, and Google are all going after Enterprise money, not consumer money from the numbers I have seen.

    Those numbers might be incomplete though, so feel free to correct me on how wikis and chromebooks are beating traditional resources in making money and adoption.

  • When it comes to Enterprises, I agree with you Tom. What does Slack offer that Teams doesn’t. From everything I’ve seen Teams does a lot more than Slack.
    I’ve only seen Slack used mainly by developers within a business, or all-out software/web companies, so it reminds me of how all journalists use Apple and that’s why its always a part of the conversation.
    The majority will always win but I think most orgs want to use the right tool for the job, which will mean a mix of products with unavoidable overlap.
    For the Slack guy to say Teams isn’t a competitor is ridiculous, really sounds like burying his head in the sand

  • I wonder whether this is more positioning Slack than criticising Teams. Microsoft, Cisco & Zoom must be considered ‘a threat’ by Slack, in the same way as Slack is considered a ‘threat’ by them.

Tom Talks Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365 news and opinions