Off Brand

How Slack Became Boring

In the war for the remote office, why isn’t the hyped messaging app pulling a Zoom?

Rob Walker
Published in
5 min readSep 16, 2020


It’s no secret that the arrival of the coronavirus earlier this year smashed the fast-forward button on the acceptability of remote work. For a certain class of white-collar job, working from home has become the default, and it’s not clear when offices will fully reopen. That’s been a major boost for some businesses — maybe most notably video conferencing tool Zoom, which transformed in a matter of months into a wildly popular, and wildly profitable, fixture of everyday life. It not only became a core part of the virtual office, it transcended it.

Another obvious winner, it would seem, should be Slack, the widely known workplace collaboration and messaging startup launched in 2013. While Slack has reported increased usage in the pandemic era, that has come with caveats and disappointments — for Wall Street, at least. Zoom’s stock has more than quintupled from $67 to more than $400 this year, for example. Slack shares, on the other hand, nose-dived after its most recent earnings report, and now stand at around $26, down from a bit over $34 in early September, and roughly flat for the year.

The weird thing is, Slack’s numbers weren’t really bad. The company reported $215.9…