All posts in “slack”

Slack removes 28 accounts linked to hate groups

Today in a short blog post, Slack announced that it had removed 28 accounts with a “clear affiliation with known hate groups.” Few details were provided about the accounts or how Slack identified them, but we have reached out to the company for more information.

The announcement, brief as it is, comes as a surprise. To date, Slack has managed to stay out of the conversation around what happens when sometimes violent politically extreme organizations use popular social platforms to organize. While that conversation should be fairly clear cut when it comes to public-facing content somewhere like Facebook, it’s a bit more nuanced on messaging platforms where communication is private in nature.

Slack is mostly used for workplace communication, but the chat platform Discord, popular with gamers, has been grappling with the same issues. In 2017, Discord removed a public server tied to AltRight.com that the company said violated its rules against harassment and calls for violence. As fringe groups are booted off of mainstream platforms, it will be interesting to see where they wind up and how their new platforms of choice will handle their unsavory new clusters of users.

For reference, here’s Slack’s full blog post:

Today we removed 28 accounts because of their clear affiliation with known hate groups. The use of Slack by hate groups runs counter to everything we believe in at Slack and is not welcome on our platform. Slack is designed to help businesses communicate better and more collaboratively so people can do their best work. Using Slack to encourage or incite hatred and violence against groups or individuals because of who they are is antithetical to our values and the very purpose of Slack. When we are made aware of an organization using Slack for illegal, harmful, or other prohibited purposes, we will investigate and take appropriate action and we are updating our terms of service to make that more explicit.

Slack’s dark mode on mobile is now available to all users

Finally, you can rest your eyes on a soothing, dark background.
Finally, you can rest your eyes on a soothing, dark background.

Image: Westend61/gettyimages

Slack’s doing its bit in the quest to save your phone’s battery life: The company just launched dark mode for mobile. 

The feature, which recently launched in beta, is now available to everyone. 

Turning on dark mode on both iOS and Android is easy: Tap on the three dots in the upper right corner (from channel view), tap Settings, and tap Dark Mode. 

Image: Stan Schroeder/Mashable

The feature will give the channels and the settings windows a white-text-on-dark-background look. The sidebar, which already had a sort of a dark mode look, will stay the same in both dark and normal mode. 

With this feature, Slack is following in the footsteps of numerous other apps that have recently added a similar option, including Facebook’s Messenger and YouTube.

And if you’re frantically looking for the dark mode option in the desktop version of Slack, don’t bother: It doesn’t exist yet. There’s hope ahead, though: Slack has announced it’s working on it.

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Slack’s new mobile dark mode is available for beta users

Save your eyes, use Slack's dark mode.
Save your eyes, use Slack’s dark mode.

Image: Getty Images/EyeEm

Nobody loves staring at a bright white screen all day, which is why dark versions of popular apps are useful for people whose eyes need a break. Workplace communication tool Slack has finally joined the ranks of apps that offer a dark mode — but there’s a catch. 

Dark mode for iOS and Android Slack users is only available in beta for the present moment. If you’re not already in the Slack beta, it’s not hard to sign up — but there’s no telling when your tester availability will be approved. 

To sign up for the beta, open the Slack app and tap the three vertical dots in the right hand corner of the screen. When your profile appears, navigate to the bottom of the sidebar and select “Settings.” 

Once in Settings, the “Join Beta” option is at the bottom of the page. Entering your name and the email associated with your Slack account will put you on the list to join the beta. After that, it’s a waiting game for approval. 

Once you are approved (or if you already are), turn dark mode on by again navigating to Settings and toggling the mode on that page. The new option should appear underneath Advanced, in the column beginning with Accessibility. 

Screenshots on Twitter show what Slack’s dark mode looks on iOS devices, and it’s… well, it’s looking real dark. Quite dark indeed.

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Slack off. Send videos instead with $11M-funded Loom

If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many emails can you replace with a video? As offices fragment into remote teams, work becomes more visual, and social media makes us more comfortable on camera, it’s time for collaboration to go beyond text. That’s the idea behind Loom, a fast-rising startup that equips enterprises with instant video messaging tools. In a click, you can film yourself or narrate a screenshare to get an idea across in a more vivid, personal way. Instead of scheduling a video call, employees can asynchronously discuss projects or give ‘stand-up’ updates without massive disruptions to their workflow.

In the 2.5 years since launch, Loom has signed up 1.1 million users from 18,000 companies. And that was just as a Chrome extension. Today Loom launches its PC and Mac apps that give it a dedicated presence in your digital workspace. Whether you’re communicating across the room or across the globe, “Loom is the next best thing to being there” co-founder Shahed Khan tells me.

Now Loom is ready to spin up bigger sales and product teams thanks to an $11 million Series A led by Kleiner Perkins . The firm’s partner Ilya Fushman, formally Dropbox’s head of business and corporate development, will join Loom’s board. He’ll shepherd Loom through today’s launch of its $10 per month per user Pro version that offers HD recording, calls-to-action at the end of videos, clip editing, live annotation drawings, and analytics to see who actually watched like they’re supposed to.

“We’re ditching the suits and ties and bringing our whole selves to work. We’re emailing and messaging like never before. but though we may be more connected, we’re further apart” Khan tells me. “We want to make it very easy to bring the humanity back in.”

Loom co-founder Shahed Khan

But back in 2016, Loom was just trying to survive. Khan had worked at Upfront Ventures after a stint as a product designer at website builder Weebly. Him and two close friends, Joe Thomas and Vinay Hiremath, started Opentest to let app makers get usabilty feedback from experts via video. But after six months and going through the NFX accelerator, they were running out of bootstrapped money. That’s when they realized it was the video messaging that could be a business as teams sought to keep in touch with members working from home or remotely.

Together they launched Loom in mid-2016, raising a pre-seed and seed round amounting to $4 million. Part of its secret sauce is that Loom immediately starts uploading bytes of your video while you’re still recording so it’s ready to send the moment you’re finished. That makes sharing your face, voice and screen feel as seamless as firing off a Slack message, but with more emotion and nuance.

“Sales teams use it to close more deals by sending personalized messages to leads. Marketing teams use Loom to walk through internal presentations and social posts. Product teams use Loom to capture bugs, stand ups, etc” Khan explains.

Loom has grown to a 16-person team that will expand thanks to the new $11 million Series A from Kleiner, Slack, Cue founder Daniel Gross, and actor Jared Leto that brings it to $15 million in funding. They predict the new desktop apps that open Loom to a larger market will see it spread from team to team for both internal collaboration and external discussions from focus groups to customer service.

Loom will have to hope that after becoming popular at a company, managers will pay for the Pro version that shows exactly how long each viewer watched for. That could clue them in that they need to be more concise, or that someone is cutting corners on training and cooperation. It’s also a great way to onboard new employees. ‘Just watch this collection of videos and let us know what you don’t understand.’

Next Loom will have to figure out a mobile strategy — something that’s surprisingly absent. Khan imagines users being able to record quick clips from their phones to relay updates from travel and client meetings. Loom also plans to build out voice transcription to add automatic subtitles to videos and even divide clips into thematic sections you can fast-forward between. Loom will have to stay ahead of competitors like Vidyard’s GoVideo and Wistia’s Soapbox that have cropped up since its launch. But Khan says Loom looms largest in the space thanks to customers at Uber, Dropbox, Airbnb, Red Bull, and 1100 employees at Hubspot.

“The overall space of collaboration tools is becoming deeper than just email + docs” says Fushman, citing Slack, Zoom, Dropbox Paper, Coda, Notion, Intercom, Productboard, and Figma. To get things done the fastest, businesses are cobbling together B2B software so they can skip building it in-house and focus on their own product.

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No piece of enterprise software has to solve everything. But Loom is dependent on apps like Slack, Google Docs, Convo, and Asana. Since it lacks a social or identity layer, you’ll need to send the links to your videos through another service. Loom should really build its own video messaging system into its desktop app. But at least Slack is an investor, and Khan says “they’re trying to be the hub of text-based communication” and the soon-to-be-public unicorn tells him anything it does in video will focus on real-time interaction.

Still, the biggest threat to Loom is apathy. People already feel overwhelmed with Slack and email, and if recording videos comes off as more of a chore than an efficiency, workers will stick to text. But Khan thinks the ubiquity of Instagram Stories is making it seem natural to jump on camera briefly. And the advantage is that you don’t need a bunch of time-wasting pleasantries to ensure no one misinterprets your message as sarcastic or pissed off.

Khan concludes “We believe instantly sharable video can foster more authentic communication between people at work, and convey complex scenarios and ideas with empathy.”

Someone could scoop up Slack before it IPOs

Earlier this week, Slack announced that it has filed the paperwork to go public at some point later this year. The big question is, will the company exit into the public markets as expected, or will one of the technology giants swoop in at the last minute with buckets of cash and take them off the market?

Slack, which raised more than $1 billion on an other-worldly $7 billion valuation, is an interesting property. It has managed to grow and be successful while competing with some of the world’s largest tech companies — Microsoft, Cisco, Facebook, Google and Salesforce. Not coincidentally, these deep-pocketed companies could be the ones that come knock, knock, knocking at Slack’s door.

Slack has managed to hold its own against these giants by doing something in this space that hadn’t been done effectively before. It made it easy to plug in other services, effectively making Slack a work hub where you could spend your day because your work could get pushed to you there from other enterprise apps.

As I’ve discussed before, this centralized hub has been a dream of communications tools for most of the 21st century. It began with enterprise IM tools in the early 2000s, and progressed to Enterprise 2.0 tools in the 2007 time frame. That period culminated in 2012 when Microsoft bought Yammer for $1.2 billion, the only billion-dollar exit for that generation of tools.

I remember hearing complaints about Enterprise 2.0 tools. While they had utility, in many ways they were just one more thing employees had to check for information beyond email. The talk was these tools would replace email, but a decade later email’s still standing and that generation of tools has been absorbed.

In 2013, Slack came along, perhaps sensing that Enterprise 2.0 never really got mobile and the cloud, and it recreated the notion in a more modern guise. By taking all of that a step further and making the tool a kind of workplace hub, it has been tremendously successful, growing to 8 million daily users in roughly 4 years, around 3 million of which were the paying variety, at last count.

Slack’s growth numbers as of May 2018

All of this leads us back to the exit question. While the company has obviously filed for IPO paperwork, it might not be the way it ultimately exits. Just the other day CNBC’s Jay Yarrow posited this questions on Twitter:

Not sure where he pulled that number from, but if you figure 3x valuation, that could be the value for a company of this ilk. There would be symmetry in Microsoft buying Slack six years after it plucked Yammer off the market, and it would remove a major competitive piece from the board, while allowing Microsoft access to Slack’s growing customer base.

Nobody can see into the future, and maybe Slack does IPO and takes its turn as a public company, but it surely wouldn’t be a surprise if someone came along with an offer it couldn’t refuse, whatever that figure might be.