时间:2023-04-26 00:51
本文摘要:Stewart Butterfield, co-founder of Slack, the communication app for office workers that has been growing like a weed, does not mince his words when he discusses the changes to working life caused by smartphones and the spread of cloud soft


Stewart Butterfield, co-founder of Slack, the communication app for office workers that has been growing like a weed, does not mince his words when he discusses the changes to working life caused by smartphones and the spread of cloud software.近来发展快速增长的办公聊天工具Slack的牵头创始人斯图尔特巴特菲尔德(Stewart Butterfield),在谈及智能手机和云软件的广泛传播给办公生活带给的变化时,并没拐弯抹角。Slack represents one response to this trend. It is a chronological flow of team conversation akin to a group chat, or a Facebook news feed. Workers post their contributions — messages, links to websites or files — into this searchable repository, organised into channels.Slack是迎合这股潮流的一个代表。

它是一款类似于群组聊天或者Facebook信息流功能的群聊时间流应用于。员工们将自己贡献的内容——信息、网页链接或者文件——放进这个可搜寻的、按频道分类的信息库中。A rival vision is represented by Dropbox, a cloud storage system which also claims to be seeing wide adoption in offices but which puts files, not a stream of chatter, at the centre.而Dropbox——一个某种程度堪称在办公室广为用于的云端存储系统——则代表着忽略的观点。不同于Slack,Dropbox的关注点不是聊天信息流,而是文件本身。

This view holds that workers will congregate around more static repositories of information, communicating inside or alongside the files.该观点指出,员工们将以更加静态的信息库为核心,在文件内部或者环绕着文件进行交流。Mr Butterfield does not hesitate before delivering a characteristically curt put-down of Dropbox: “They’re probably just wrong.”对于Dropbox的观点,巴特菲尔德没犹豫不决,以他特有的不客气简练还击:“也许他们拢了。”If the boss of the hottest new app to enter office life has flaws, a lack of certainty is not one of them.如果这位当前最炙手可热的办公应用软件的老板有什么缺点的话,缺少确认信心绝不会是其中之一。

Slack’s headlong growth suggests he has hit on something, though at less than two years old it is still early. Mr Butterfield says the service has been growing exponentially, adding new users at a rate of about 5 per cent a week. Slack says 1.1m people use its service each day and that it has 300,000 users covered by subscriptions.Slack的急速快速增长解释巴特菲尔德的观点有一定道理——尽管对于创立严重不足两年的Slack来说,这样的结论还为时尚早。巴特菲尔德称之为,Slack的业务呈圆形指数快速增长,用户量每周快速增长5%。Slack称之为每日有110万人用于其服务,并有30万名订阅者用户。“It’s a much more profound change than people realise,” Mr Butterfield says of the way mobile and cloud technologies are affecting work. “The endpoints are people — not documents, or files, or content, or ‘stuff’ in the generic sense. The number of people for whom data stored in the form of a file is the most important thing is getting smaller and smaller all the time.”“这是比人们意识到的更为深刻印象的转变,”巴特菲尔德谈及手机和云技术对工作方式的影响时说。

“它们的端点是人,而不是文本、文件、内容或者普遍意义上的‘东西’。以文件为主要形式来存储数据的人越来越少。”Thoughtful and intense, as well as flip and dismissive, Mr Butterfield is acerbic at one moment and liable to dive into an extended technical explanation the next.巴特菲尔德言语诙谐,傲慢无礼,却又富裕见地和热情。

他往往这一刻还嘲讽地评论着什么,下一刻却又投放地向人详尽阐述一项技术。If devising the formula for a successful viral internet service is like catching lightning in a bottle, he has the distinction of now having done it twice: Flickr, the photo-sharing site he co-founded in 2004 and sold to Yahoo the next year, was one of the first signs of the social media wave that followed.如果说顺利设计出有一款甚广热门的互联网服务就像用瓶子捕猎雷电一样艰难,那么他早已两次已完成了这几近不有可能的事:他于2004年与人合伙创立了照片分享网站Flickr,并于次年将其卖给雅虎(Yahoo)。

Flickr是后来的社交媒体浪潮的最先兴起之一。Slack takes its own cue from social networking. But getting the formula correct involves much more than an aptitude for finding the right social chemistry, its boss says.巴特菲尔德说道,Slack本身是不受社交网络的灵感,不过寻找准确配方,所必须的相比之下好比找到准确的社交“化学反应”的能力。It is also about making use of what he calls the “profusion of software” inside companies. With more corporate functions being automated through cloud services — from keeping track of customer orders to monitoring IT systems — Slack is designed to integrate their output into a single stream of communication: a notification could be posted to the stream, for instance, each time a new order comes in or a customer tweets about a product.Slack的顺利还在于利用他称之为的公司内部“非常丰富的软件资源”。

当前,更加多的企业职能——从跟踪客户订单到监控IT系统——通过云服务构建了自动化。Slack的设计意图就是统合企业信息输入,将其汇总为单一的信息流:例如,每当产生新的订单或者客户针对产品放tweet时,信息流中都可以放通报。That makes Slack a digital spine for a business, with a single search box for tracking both human- and machine-generated data.这就使得Slack沦为了企业中的信息支柱。

不论是人还是机器产生的数据,都共用一个搜索框,以供跟踪。The aim is to create “a positive feedback loop, where the more attention you pay to it, the more it becomes something that saves time in switching between multiple obligations”.Slack的目标是创建“一个正反馈的环,你就越推崇它,它就就越能在转换有所不同职能中节省时间”。

The formula has been a hit with venture capital investors as much as with users. Slack has already raised $340m in its short life, with the most recent funding round putting a valuation on it of $2.8bn — notable even in the current buoyant funding environment in Silicon Valley.该软件不仅甚广不受用户青睐,还是风投家们竞相追赶的对象。创办时间不宽,Slack的筹资额却已超过3.4亿美元。


在近期一轮融资中,它的估值超过28亿美元——即便是在当前融资环境一片岌岌可危的硅谷,这也是个真是的数字。Asked why Slack has raised so much, Mr Butterfield says: “Because we could.” With more than a quarter of its users paying for the service, Slack is “pretty much even on a cash-flow basis already,” he says.当被问及Slack为什么能筹到这么多款项时,巴特菲尔德问道:“因为我们有能力。”当前用户中有多达四分之一的人收费,“Slack可以说道早已创建在现金流的基础上了,”他说。

But stashing away money in the good times could become a competitive advantage in a bust. “I wouldn’t wish a crash on anybody, but the best-case scenario for us is that money becomes harder to get,” he says.不过要趁着日子好过时把钱存好,这样到了日子不好过的时候,这笔钱就不会沦为竞争优势。“我推倒不是期望哪家公司朋克,不过对我们来说,最不利的情况就是,筹资环境变无以,”他说。To justify the sky-high expectations, Mr Butterfield will have to prove that Slack is more than just the latest faddish office-messaging system. The challenge now is the one that faces all new enterprise software companies with a bright idea: to move fast enough to keep ahead of the copycats, while finding a way to steer between giant competitors that might see Slack as a rival and try to crush it.为了超过外界低企的预期,巴特菲尔德必需要证明,Slack某种程度是一个风靡一时的办公聊天系统而已。Slack所面对的问题也是当前所有新兴的、具有杰出创新的软件公司都要面对的问题:既要较慢创意把模仿者扯在后面,又要寻找办法在有可能视Slack为输掉、企图将之毁坏的同行巨头之间周旋。

The race to keep Slack’s user numbers growing exponentially turns on overcoming barriers to its adoption. A key product enhancement planned for later this year, for instance, would greatly simplify things for corporate IT departments that want to control the many different Slack group chats that may have sprung up inside their businesses. Slack is also adapting its service to meet different international sensitivities.为维持用户数量呈圆形指数快速增长的态势,Slack著手扫除妨碍用户用于的障碍。例如,Slack计划于今年晚些时候展开一次关键的产品升级。升级后的Slack将大大简化企业IT部的工作,便利其掌控企业内同时展开的有所不同群组聊天。

Slack还在调整服务以符合有所不同的国际市场需求。Avoiding head-on confrontation with the giants of the software industry, meanwhile, means not challenging their own businesses directly. “In this moment now, we have effectively no competition and we’re young and new enough that no one hates us yet,” Mr Butterfield says.同时,要防止与软件行业巨头产生正面冲突,就意味著不要必要向其业务发动挑战。“此时此刻,我们实质上还没竞争者。

我们是年长的新面孔,还没有人愤恨我们,”巴特菲尔德说。His plan for keeping it that way is to go broad rather than deep: find millions more users for the existing service, rather than add many new functions that suck in more and more of its users’ attention.为维持当前局面,他的计划是拓宽覆盖面,而不是深化产品功能:考古更好的客户用于现有产品,而不是减少许多新功能更有现有客户的注意力。“People are paying us between $80 and $100 a year [per user]. If we can get 100m people to do that, that looks like a pretty good business,” he says.“(每名)用户每年向我们缴纳80到100美元。如果我们能享有1亿名收费用户,那将是一笔非常不俗的做生意,”他说。

The biggest danger of all, though, is that some new piece of software will do to Slack what it is trying to do to more established software companies: offer a service that is even more basic and easy to use, and that starts to generate network effects as groups of workers find it slots almost unnoticeably into their office lives.然而,当前仅次于的风险是经常出现某种新的软件,用Slack对付那些更加老牌软件公司的方法来对付Slack:为用户获取一种更加基础、更加便于用于的软件,当员工群体找到该软件潜移默化地转变了他们的办公生活时,就不会产生网络效应。“The thing I worry about most is someone coming up with something that is much, much simpler but delivers most of the value — like they find the magic formula so that you can get 80 per cent of the value of Slack but with only 20 per cent of the complexity.”“我最担忧的是有人设计出有一款非常简单得多,却能构建Slack多数价值的应用程序——只不过他们寻找了某种魔法配方,其复杂程度只有Slack的20%,却能构建Slack 80%的价值。