Ade Olonoh runs a startup called Formstack, which makes software for building web forms. But in recent months he’s launched another product that’s totally different—Flock, a so-called “bot” that hops around in his company’s chat program to gather information from team members about what they’re working on and share it with managers ahead of daily meetings.
Mr. Olonoh’s team built Flock as an internal tool. But the exploding popularity of chat programs like Slack, Atlassian’s HipChat and others convinced Mr. Olonoh to offer Flock as a product for other companies. It therefore became part of the nascent bot economy—which now includes dozens of startups that have launched the applications (see the list below).