Slack confidentially files to go public

Slack confidentially files to go public
Slack Technologies via Wikimedia Commons

Slack, the popular workplace communication platform, has filed confidential paperwork to go public.

On Monday, the company announced it had submitted its registration for a “proposed public listing” with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Wall Street Journal previously reported Slack, like Spotify before it, would go public through a direct listing instead of raising new capital. In April, Spotify listed its existing shares directly on the New York Stock Exchange without having underwriters price out the shares based on anticipated demand.

A direct listing could benefit people who work at Slack because employees and longtime shareholders could sell stock on day one. In the case of a traditional IPO, there is a share lockup period of months before they can sell.

Slack CEO and co-founder Stewart Butterfield is known for saying the company is opportunistic about capitalizing on people’s interest in the service — whether it’s from investors wanting to pour money into the company or expanding Slack into new countries.

The company has been vocal about accepting new investment, even when it has yet to tap the vast majority of money in its warchest.

To date, it has raised about $1.2 billion from investors including SoftBank and Accel. In August, the company was valued at $7.1 billion.

Slack’s messaging service helps employees better collaborate on work. It’s been called an “email killer,” providing users a chatroom-like service to cut down on cluttered inboxes.

The service has 10 million daily active users globally. Japan is its second largest market with half a million active daily users in the country as of July.

Slack relies on businesses to sign up for a paid version of the service to make money. The company said it has 85,000 paid customers worldwide.

It continues to face competition from bigger tech players, including Google’s Hangouts, Facebook’s Workplace, and Microsoft’s Teams. Microsoft was reportedly once interested in buying Slack for about $8 billion before it created Teams.

Slack, which launched in San Francisco in 2013, is one of several tech “unicorns” — the term for privately-held startups valued at $1 billion or more — slated to go public this year. Uber, Lyft and Airbnb are also expected to IPO in 2019.

Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly stated the price Microsoft offered to buy Slack.