By Salvador Rodriguez
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Slack Technologies Inc on Wednesday showcased new tools designed to make it easier for developers to build apps for the company’s workplace collaboration software.
The developer conference was part of a major push by Slack to lure software developers into building special purpose applications, or apps, that plug into its system.
“We are doubling down on developers,” said Amir Shevat, Slack's director of developer relations who previously served in a similar role for Google’s Android operating system. “Slack is a platform company. We see a direct correlation between our success and the success of our developers.”
Slack, which is now eight years old, is at a crossroads in its history. The company has raised more than $500 million in funding and claims 5 million daily users, but it's now facing intense competition from far larger rivals including Microsoft Corp and Facebook Inc.
The company grew to popularity on the back of its intra-office messaging capabilities, but analysts say it now needs to be much more than that if it is to go it alone in an enterprise software industry that is dominated by a handful of giants.
One key strategy is establishing itself as a conversational interface for a range of enterprise software. For example, Salesforce customers can use an app called Troops to input their sales data into the Salesforce customer relationship management software by chatting with a chatbot on Slack.
Fending off its bigger rivals requires that Slack continue to expand and diversify its offerings, said Salvatore Recco, executive vice president at 50 Park Investments, an investment advisory service.
Slack’s developer platform is critical to achieving that, said Johnny Won, founder of Hyperstop, a tech consultancy firm.
“With so many messaging tools, the platform will be the true differentiation force,” Won said.
Slack says there are now more than 155,000 apps that are used each week on its service. However, most of those apps are built by companies for their internal use. Only 1,000 of those apps have been added to Slack’s App Directory, where users can go to download publicly available Slack apps.
(Reporting by Salvador Rodriguez; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)