Facebook Inc will release its new work place networking app by the end of the year. And once that happens, expect current start-up darling “Slack” to feel the heat.
Slack, of course, is the new superstar of the tech world. A group messaging service, it is the fastest growing biz app of all time. It caught everyone’s attention once it zoomed to 1M daily users and a $2.5B valuation in just over a year.
Facebook Inc will start out by offering its enterprise product for free. There will also be the option for additional paid features.
So why will Facebook’s entry make things tough for established players like Slack and Yammer, owned by Microsoft ?
The All Important Familiarity Factor
The answer lies in the fact that Facebook Inc will benefit from a certain amount of familiarity with potential users. Facebook at Work looks very identical to personal FB. A user will be able to log in with his or her current username and password. Both of them are already saved on most work computers.
Early glimpses of the product indicate the system is much more robust than Slack. It has the ability to arrange groups around projects and teams. Additionally, group admins can announce important message. Users will also have specific places to discuss issues. And all this will be organized in the all-too-familiar News Feed interface.
Facebook Inc has been testing the product with over 100 firms since January. Heineken USA got on board in spring. It recently rolled out Facebook at Work to more than 500 workers.
“We were looking for an interactive space for our employees to share and reconnect. We really liked the fact it separated people’s personal Facebook account and they had a designated ‘at work’ account,” Jacqueline Leahy, Heineken USA’s communications manager said.
What Drew Facebook to this Project Anyway?
Considering that the market for office networking tools isn’t huge by any stretch, what got Facebook interested anyway? Slack, the largest player, is currently valued at around $2.8B. That dwarfs in front of Facebook’s last quarterly revenue of over $4B. Still, there are a few compelling reasons for FB to enter the market.
Facebook at Work was developed for internal use. But after several years of using it at its offices around the world, Facebook realized it had a winning product. Post that, you can’t expect the firm to not take it public.
Also, Zuckerberg must have figured that luring businesses in to Facebook at Work will make it easier to increase the enterprise presence of his other properties.
Having said that, don’t expect any immediate earnings impact. Facebook Inc has to first attract big name businesses to the platform. The monetizing part will only come after that.