Just in time for the holidays, we have a possible big enterprise software merger. Salesforce’s interest in buying Slack, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. We even predicted Salesforce could be a bidder for the workplace messaging service last January, along with several other companies (which raises the possibility of other bidders emerging).
Slack is enormously popular among its users, but like a lot of popular products, it belongs to a smaller company that doesn’t have the scale to compete with bigger rivals. And its growth has been slowing: The number of paid customers increased 25% in the year to January, down from 49% growth a year earlier and 59% the year before that. Overall revenue is still growing at a healthy clip, but it seems inevitable that it will slow more sharply in time. That’s likely the reason Slack stock has been such an underperformer. As of Tuesday, Slack stock had lost 20% since the company went public in June of last year, while the Nasdaq was up 50% over the same period. Slack stock surged 38% on Wednesday on the Salesforce news, still a meager return for early investors.