Workplace collaboration company Slack says it has set up an investment fund intended to make early-stage investments in companies building apps that will enhance its popular application.
The $80 million Slack Fund has been established in partnership with venture capital firms Accel, Andreessen Horowitz, Index Ventures, KPCB, Spark Growth and Social Capital. Investments will be aimed at apps that add functionality and features to Slack and in enterprise applications that make connecting to Slack a priority.
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"These will be typical seed-stage investments, but it's possible we'll be writing bigger checks in the future," Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield said in an interview with Re/code. "In an ideal world, we'd like to make some return on the investments, but mainly this is about getting the wheels spinning on making the Slack platform more powerful and more useful."
Two early investments: Howdy, an Austin-based startup that builds Slack bots, apps that automate certain tasks within the Slack environment; and Awesome, which has created software for summarizing a user's activity within Slack.
Alongside the investment fund, Slack said it has created an app directory that will list the third-party apps — there are 150 already — that it has approved for use with the service. Among them are apps that connect Slack to Twitter, Google Drive, Dropbox and Trello.
The moves come amid increased attention on workplace communication and collaboration apps. Atlassian, the Australian-based company behind tools like HipChat and Jira, went public on the Nasdaq last week. And networking giant Cisco Systems added voice and videoconferencing capabilities to its Slack-like tool called Spark.
Butterfield said Slack has about two million daily active users around the world, of which 570,000 are paid users. As of April, it had raised about $340 million from VC investors. Its most recent $160 million round valued the company at $2.8 billion.
—By Arik Hesseldahl, Re/code.net.
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