What it's like to be Matt Slack who has the Twitter handle @Slack, like the tech company Salesforce just bought for over $27 billion

Matt Slack has often had his Twitter handle, @Slack, confused for that of the ginormous productivity software tool recently bought by Salesforce for more than $27 billion.
Photo courtesy Matt Slack

For Matt Slack, the answer to Shakespeare's famous soliloquy — "What's in a name?" — is quite a lot.

That's because Slack, 38, a software engineer from Holland, Michigan, is the owner of the Twitter handle, @slack. Yes, like the tech company Slack that Salesforce just bought for over $27 billion.

As you can imagine, with that Twitter handle, things have been interesting for Slack, the man — like getting a personal invitation to the 2019 direct listing of Slack the company on the New York Stock Exchange.

Matt Slack joined Twitter as @slack in October, 2006, he tells CNBC Make It.

Matt Slack at the Slack NYSE bell-ringing ceremony.

Slack, the company, wasn't founded until 2009, so when it came to setting up a Twitter presence, the start-up was relegated to a slightly less intuitive handle, @SlackHQ.

Over the last decade-plus, Matt has become enmeshed in many social media conversations about Slack, the company.

For instance, when the company, announced it had been acquired for billions on Tuesday, Matt joked on Twitter, "it's a quiet day," and that he should see if he had been tagged in any tweets. Stewart Butterfield, the founder of Slack even responded: "I feel like we've been on a wonderful adventure together over the years, Matt."

"I thought it was really nice of Stewart to say that," Matt says. "We've tweeted back and forth a handful of times, but never met, though I've passed within a few feet of him at their stock listing last year."

Indeed, Matt's had frequent correspondence with Slack executives Anna Pickard, the head of brand communications and the creative director of voice and tone at Slack for six years until October, and Ali Rayl, the vice president of customer experience at Slack, and they invited him to Slack's NYSE listing, "which was a lot of fun and completely unexpected," he said. "They're really nice and fun people."

On most days, when Slack is not being acquired in a monstrous deal, Matt says he gets "probably fewer than 20" mistaken tweets.

"It varies a lot though," he says.

"If they release a new feature (I used to get a ton of tweets asking for threads), or there's a problem, or some kind of business shenanigans, I get a ton, [of mistaken tweets]," he says. (Threads in Slack are a way of linking related messages to organize discussions, and were eagerly desired before the company released the product.) 

Slack's acquisition by Salesforce "generated the most" mistaken tweets, though, Matt says. (Matt turned off alerts for his mentions "years ago," so he really only sees the tweets if he looks.)

Interestingly, "Slack has never attempted to buy the handle," Matt says.

And the mistaken identity is not a burden. "I've never had any desire to change my handle," Matt says. (He is also the owner of @Slack, the Instagram handle, but "that's less fun," he says. While his Instagram account is private, the tag line is visible: "My username is not for sale. Really. It's not.")

"Most of  the tweets are good natured. In general I think people like Slack as a product and a company," Matt says. "If I shared a name with a cable company the experience would probably be much different." But being @slack is "far more entertaining than annoying."

As a longtime software engineer, Matt even pitches in to answer questions where he can. "On rare occasions I'll help people out if they have a problem I know how to fix," he says.

The most common complaint Matt helps with is from users who are frustrated that Slack has automatically turned two dashes typed together into a larger dash. (More often than not it's an issue with the Mac keyboard settings, Matt says. He even has a screen shot prepared to show users how to fix the issue.)

Otherwise he says, questions from users are "mostly confirming if Slack is having an outage, or questions about where something moved in the last update. Nothing super complex," Matt says.

And sometimes frustrated users just need a pep talk.

Overall, the experience has been pleasant, if odd.

"It has been a weird shared experience with the people at Slack. I've become Twitter friends with a number of them, and I usually send a holiday card to their office," Matt says.

After all, Matt is also a Slack user.

"My team uses Slack at work," Matt says. "I'm told we'll have to migrate [to Microsoft Teams] eventually, but we're all hoping to avoid that as long as we can."

Slack, the company, did not immediately respond to CNBC Make It's request for comment.

See also:

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Whole Foods CEO John Mackey: How to 'devastate employee morale' in a single blow

Legendary investor Bill Gurley: We're investing in start-ups without an office now, we didn't before

Salesforce's Slack deal will look pretty cheap in retrospect: Box founder
Salesforce's Slack deal will look pretty cheap in retrospect: Box founder