Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella discusses big tech companies and the role of competition in an interview with Bloomberg Televisions’ Emily Chang (via The Seattle Times). Among the many topics that Nadella discusses is Slack, the communication platform that’s in a “don’t call it a rivalry” rivalry with Microsoft Teams.
Slack has an interesting history with Microsoft. When Teams came out, Slack said they were “genuinely excited to have some competition.” In March of last year, Slack’s CEO said “Teams is not a competitor to Slack.” A 10-Q filing from Slack from October 2019 states that Slack’s “primary competitor is currently Microsoft Corporation.”
Slack also accused Microsoft of anticompetitive practices in a complaint to the EU last July. Microsoft responded by stating, “Slack suffered from its absence of video-conferencing.”
Despite all of this back and forth, the companies are tied together. Slack is available on Windows, and Nadella points out how the nature of Windows paved the way for Slack:
I always ask the question, would Slack have even existed if it was not for the free access they had on top of, say, the Windows platform? They didn’t have to call Microsoft. They didn’t have to go through any of our app stores. They didn’t need any of our permission compared to any of the other platforms that they’re available on. We perhaps provide the most open platform in Windows and even in Office 365.
Nadella raises an interesting point. These days, walled gardens aren’t that rare. Many operating systems have restrictions, and app stores are curated. While Microsoft does have an app store of its own, developers are still free to make apps and release them how they’d like.
As pointed out by our executive editor Daniel Rubino, Microsoft played a major role in computers becoming ubiquitous. Microsoft and Windows played a major roll in Slack being possible.