Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield has announced that he will leave the company in January. The news comes less than a week after Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor said he would leave the company at the end of the fiscal quarter.
Salesforce acquired Slack in 2020 for €27 billion, in a deal in which Taylor played a key role.
The news was first reported by Business Insider and later confirmed by Slack. In the internal message posted by Insider, Butterfield said the two departures were unrelated, stating: “FWIW: This has nothing to do with Bret leaving. The program has been in preparation for several months! Just a weird moment.
Butterfield also said that Tamar Yehoshua, chief product officer, and Jonathan Prince, Slack's senior vice president of marketing, brand and communications, will be leaving the company.
A statement sent by a company spokesperson said: "Stewart is an incredible leader who has built an amazing and beloved company on Slack. He helped lead the successful integration of Slack into Salesforce and today. Today, Slack is integrated with the Salesforce Customer 360 platform.”
While Sole Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has yet to announce whether he plans to replace Taylor with a new co-CEO, Butterfield's successor has already been named. Lidiane Jones, who served as executive vice president and general manager of digital experience clouds at Salesforce, will assume the role in the new year.
Salesforce's statement also says Butterfield was instrumental in choosing Jones as Slack's next CEO. "We are grateful for Stewart and excited for Lidiane as she takes the reins at Slack," he said.
“Lidiane is well-respected and brings Slack closer to Salesforce in terms of integration across several product areas,” said Jason Wong, an analyst at Gartner, adding that it's clear Salesforce is taking Slack in a more business-aligned direction. expanding and enabling its Customer 360 platform, rather than promoting Slack as a general productivity platform.
Founded in 2013, Slack wasn't Butterfield's first entrepreneurial venture. Nine years earlier, he founded the photo-sharing site Flickr, before selling it to Yahoo in 2005. Slack's popularity eventually led to the messaging platform's IPO in 2019 before it was bought by Salesforce.
Wong notes that because Butterfield and Taylor were behind the vision of Slack and Salesforce combined, their departures could cause turbulence as the new leaders shape their own strategies. However, he said Slack's business performance exceeded Salesforce's own expectations, with growth of more than 40% year-over-year in the company's most recent fiscal quarter.
Given what he describes as Slack's "outstanding performance," Wong said Benioff is unlikely to make major management changes in response to the resignations, instead focusing on fiscal fourth-quarter performance given economic headwinds from the last two quarters.
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