Slack invests in 11 startups in effort to create the ‘future of work’

San Francisco-based Slack may still be a young startup itself, but that hasn’t prevented the corporate chat platform from playing VC and placing bets on a handful of smaller up-and-coming companies.

On Tuesday, Slack announced its investment into just shy of a dozen startups via the Slack Fund, the in-house investment arm the company launched in December. The $80 million fund, a partnership between Slack and prestigious venture capital firms including Accel, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Andreessen Horowitz, is intended to build an ecosystem to “dramatically shape the future of work for the better.”

Since announcing its launch, Slack has invested in 11 new startups that are building corporate tools designed to work with the Slack platform. Those companies include Butter, a personal assistant that makes company knowledge easily accessible; candor, an app that gives companies a platform to solicit candid feedback; Growbot, a motivational bot for employees; and Konsus, which provides access to on-demand freelancers.

Those investments bring the total number of Slack-backed companies to 14. Slack so far has poured $1.97 million of its own capital into those startups, and its VC partners have put up another $30 million.

In addition to funding startups, Slack also has added more than 600 names to its App Directory — a curated list of apps that enhance the Slack platform.

“When we started the Slack Fund, we thought a great deal about what it takes to build an ecosystem  —  an ecosystem where a good idea can become a lasting business, and where we, together with our developers and partners, can dramatically shape the future of work for the better,” the Slack team wrote in a company blog post Tuesday. “To build this kind of ecosystem you need a shared mission, great developer products, a solid distribution mechanism and finally, to help apps make it in the long run, money.”

Slack was founded in 2013 and has raised about $540 million in equity funding, according to CrunchBase data. CB Insights lists the company’s valuation at $3.8 billion.

Large public tech companies have become increasingly involved in the venture capital world, but it’s more unusual for smaller startups to launch investments arms. Corporate venture groups poured more than $1.2 billion into startups during the second quarter of this year — participating in 21 percent of deals, according to the MoneyTree Report by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association, based on data by Thomson Reuters.

Photo: Screen shot of the Slack Fund website. (Slack) 


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