Boldly Following Every Other Tech Company, Slack Is Cloning Clubhouse Now

Illustration for article titled Boldly Following Every Other Tech Company, Slack Is Cloning Clubhouse Now
Photo: Stephen Lam (Getty Images)

Slack—following in the grand old tradition of companies like Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter—is planning on cloning buzzy app Clubhouse’s voice chatroom functionality.

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Slack, which builds a chat room product primarily used by businesses, already allows users to place audio calls to one another. Per Protocol, Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield said in a recent Clubhouse session hosted by journalist Josh Constine that the company is beta testing a voice message function and it plans to offer on-the-fly video/voice rooms that don’t require prescheduling or an actual call.

One could observe that the ongoing surge in a handful of tech firms just ripping off upstart competitors’ ideas is illustrative of a lack of imagination, anti-competitive behavior, or both. But in this case, it makes perfect sense, and Slack and Clubhouse are in completely different markets (business and consumer). Slack probably isn’t interested in hosting the kind of freewheeling conversations with venture capitalists and other generally unpleasant people Clubhouse is known for so much as competing with video conference apps like Zoom that are eating into their business market.

Bafflingly, Slack is also planning on following Instagram, Twitter, and numerous other lesser apps in implementing its own version of “Stories,” the type of self-deleting video post originally brought to prominence by Snapchat. This builds on prior news that Slack is planning on expanding from an internal messaging platform to a company-to-company communications service, though one ponders whether there’s any actual demand for Slack Stories or this is just another instance of a tech company bandwagoning a feature that’s popular elsewhere. From Protocol:

Butterfield also said Slack would soon get an ephemeral video message feature commonly known as “stories,” similar to a message format originated by Snapchat and imitated by many, from Instagram to LinkedIn. Butterfield first indicated these features were on Slack’s roadmap back in October. The new features come as Slack is making a push to turn its tool for internal company communications into a broader company-to-company messaging service.

As Protocol noted, Salesforce chief operating officer Bret Taylor, whose company plans to buy Slack in a deal currently being scrutinized by antitrust regulators, tweeted that he was surprised by the announcement.

Slack isn’t the only one cloning features. Per Tom’s Guide, Microsoft Teams recently copied the Slack function which allows users to start reply threads under another user’s messages. Slack unrelatedly rolled back another feature that allowed paying users to send invites to any other paying user after it was pointed out that it didn’t have any built-in protection against spam or harassment.

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