Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Getty Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield.

The office communication application, Slack has officially hit the public stock market. Under the ticker, “WORK,” Slack’s market value skyrocketed 60%, according to the Associated Press.

Slack is the latest technological tool to hit the public market, as it debuted on the New York Stock Exchange at $38.50 and rose $3.23, or 8.4%, to $41.73 in afternoon trading, per the AP.

Slack gained steam in 2014 when many media and technology companies started to use the service as a communication tool to converse with co-workers in a quicker and less-formal process, compared to e-mail.

Slack’s CEO, Stweart Butterfield founded the company in 2013 as it quickly grew to be popular among many large-scale offices.

Here’s what you need to know about Butterfield:

1. Butterfield Got His Start in the World of Internet Entrepreneurship in 2000

Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

GettySlack opened on the New York Stock Exchange today.

The year was 2000, the dot com bubble just popped and Butterfield was able to sell his first project, Gradfinder.com – a website dedicated to helping recent college graduates find and communicate with other grads – for a good amount of money.

According to Business Insider, Butterfield was able to sell Gradfinder for “a healthy profit.”

Butterfield went on to try and start Ludicorp, an online multiplayer gaming startup, with his wife, Caterina Fake and business partner Jason Classon. He failed miserably.

“We had raised friends and family money, trying to build the thing. But this was after dot-com bust, after WorldCom, Enron, 9/11. No one wanted to invest in consumer and especially not something as frivolous as a game. We couldn’t raise any money,” Butterfield told Business Insider.

2. After Ludicorp Flopped, Butterfield Founded His First Big Hit, Flickr

Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

GettyStewart Butterfield

After the multi-player online gaming franchise failed, Butterfield went on to discover the photosharing platform Flickr.

According to Business Insider, the idea came to Butterfield while he was ill from food-poisoning in New York City.

“I got food poisoning. I was up all night. The whole idea for Flickr came to me while I was puking my guts out in a hotel in New York,” Butterfield said.

After Flickr blew up in the mid-2000s, Butterfield and his team sold the platform to Yahoo for $20 million.

3. After Ludicorp and Flickr, Butterfield Did Not Give up on His Multi-Player Game Dreams

Butterfield’s dreams of building a popular multi-player online game did not go gently into that good night. He and engineer Cal Henderson teamed up to take another crack at the massive-multiplayer online (MMO) world with the creation of Tiny Speck, per Business Insider.

The two came up with a game called Glitch, which ultimately failed.

“We raised $17 million in 3 rounds and had 45 people working on it. But by 2012, it was clear that Glitch wasn’t going to become a business that would justify $17 million in venture capital investment. It had a hardcore cult following that exists to this day,” Butterfield said.

At the end of the day, Butterfield admitted that Glitch “was too weird for most people.”

4. Out of Tiny Speck and Glitch Came Slack

Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

GettyButterfield celebrating with fellow Slack employees.

If it weren’t for the people and environment that led to the creation of Tiny Speck and Glitch, Slack might not have ever been made.

“Now, they’ve taken the customized communications tool the team used to build Glitch and created a new stand alone product — Slack, a business collaboration tool,” a 2013 CNET article featuring the new office communication tool read.

“In the last 15 years, the Microsoft hegemony and Office and Windows worship has broken down and as a result, we’ve gotten a lot of new and, in most cases, better tools,” Butterfield told CNET. “But that means information is scattered across a bunch of different tools and there’s no one search tool that you can go through to search across all of this.”

The ultimate goal for Slack is to revolutionize the way people share information, documents and media in a work setting.

“We want to do what Gmail did for e-mail. All your communications just goes into one big place and you don’t worry about it,” Butterfield said.

Fast-forward six years, and Slack is apart of most large-scale offices and media companies, a tool that is putting e-mail in the backseat.

5. Butterfield Started Coding as a Child

Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

GettyStewart Butterfield

Butterfield was born in 1973, to a family that was living in a small fishing village in Lund, British Columbia, according to Inc.  His family did not have running water in their log cabin until Butterfield was 3-years-old.

At the age of five, his family moved to Victoria, British Columbia. They got a computer shortly after that, as Butterfield fell in love with the devices and taught himself to code.

“I was among the first cohort of kids to grow up with computers,” he said.

In 1996, Butterfield graduated with a bachelors degree in philosophy from the University of Victoria. He then graduated with a masters in philosophy from the University of Cambridge in 1998 before launching his career in the tech industry.


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