When Metalab rejected Slack’s equity offer (‘seemed like a “me too” product)

The world of startups and technology has been hit by thunder with the sale of Slack to business software pioneer Salesforce for an exorbitant sum of $27.7 billion. Opinions are divided over the cost of the acquisition regarding which party benefitted the most but Slack’s immense success has been making all the right noises in the tech world and hence, the sale amounting to a scrumptious amount of money was more or less inevitable.

While the jury is out on how this sale will impact Salesforce’s goal to take on Microsoft, Metalab, which actually built and designed the first version of Slack has an interesting story to share.

Metalab founder rejected Slack’s offer of equity as the product seemed like a ‘me too’ (IRC one). Their founder has articulated it brilliantly (and bravely) in his Twitter thread.


In 2013 I got a call from @stewart.

His gaming startup, Glitch, had failed.

He seemed gutted. They had burned through millions and laid off their entire staff.

He had an idea he wanted us to help with.

A last ditch effort to get his investors money back…

It was an IRC-inspired chat app.

Womp womp.

There were already similar chat products like Campfire and HipChat.

I didn’t have the heart to tell him, but it seemed like a “me too” product.

I didn’t really get it. I thought it had low odds of success…

He offered equity, but I pushed for cash.

When you run an agency, cash is king. 9 times out of 10, startup equity turns out to be toilet paper that can’t pay people’s salaries.

We were small and running month to month. I had people to pay…

We worked like crazy and did our best to set it apart.

We tried to make Slack feel fun and different from other products. Like a video game.

The team hit it out of the park and defined the DNA of what became a smash hit.

Much of the original design still defines the product

MetaLab was the first beta user.

There was something addictive about it.

It was fun to use for some reason. Better than the other products.

But I didn’t invest. I felt the writing was on the wall.

Tough market. Established competition. Etc…

In 2013 I got a call from @stewart.

His gaming startup, Glitch, had failed.

He seemed gutted. They had burned through millions and laid off their entire staff.

He had an idea he wanted us to help with.

A last ditch effort to get his investors money back…

It was an IRC-inspired chat app.

Womp womp.

There were already similar chat products like Campfire and HipChat.

I didn’t have the heart to tell him, but it seemed like a “me too” product.

I didn’t really get it. I thought it had low odds of success…

He offered equity, but I pushed for cash.

When you run an agency, cash is king. 9 times out of 10, startup equity turns out to be toilet paper that can’t pay people’s salaries.

We were small and running month to month. I had people to pay…

We worked like crazy and did our best to set it apart.

We tried to make Slack feel fun and different from other products. Like a video game.

The team hit it out of the park and defined the DNA of what became a smash hit.

Much of the original design still defines the product

MetaLab was the first beta user.

There was something addictive about it.

It was fun to use for some reason. Better than the other products.

But I didn’t invest. I felt the writing was on the wall.

Tough market. Established competition. Etc…

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