The Software Supply Chain: Conquered by Slack

michaelaris    February 22, 2015

Organization Name: Slack

Name of Contacts:
Stewart Butterfield, Founder, Slack – @stewart

Industry: Enterprise Social Networking

Web references:

Slack – @slackhq 
FooPlugins – @FooPlugins

Company Overview:


Slack is a team communication tool created in 2013 by the co-founder of Flickr, Scott Butterfield. After he left Flickr/Yahoo in 2008, he co-founded an online game company, Tiny Speck. During their developments they found themselves frustrated with internal operations and communications, so they developed their own management system based upon IRC (Internet Relay Chat). Little did they know, that this project management tool would grow into being the main success of the company.

After 3 years of development, Tiny Speck released their game Glitch. But unfortunately, a year later, the company could no longer support itself due to its failure of attracting a sustainable audience. So, in December of 2012, Tiny Speck shut its doors. According to Butterfield, ‘the closure was brutal.’ But, it would take a lot more than this flop to have Butterfield wave the white flag. There was a product to be made out of this failure: Slack.

What is Slack: 

After hack upon hack, and patch after patch, they left behind their extension of IRC and rebuilt their ‘dream tool’ from the group up. It operates as a portal of streamlined communication within an Enterprise, utilizing various 3rd party integration services to incorporate more rigorous monitoring data that can suit businesses’ individual needs.

These services can range from Dropbox to Google Hangouts. But it doesn’t stop there: it could be used to monitor and manage the Web Application Software Supply Chain. While the Slack PR team was not able to provide specific insight on current Supply Chain Management modules when we approached them with the subject, they did confirm that: ‘they hope to provide further case studies in the near future as they currently have the sources to develop them.’

The Web Application Supply Chain – Michael Racioppo

Through it’s various built-in integrations , and their developer ready API, Slack could virtually support any sending or receiving functionality with other software. The possibilities are endless. Though, currently it doesn’t have anything to monitor Raw Materials it could support the following:

Supply – GitHub for Version Control or OpsGenie for IT Management

Manufacturing – Runscope for Testing and Debugging APIs or Beanstalk for Code Reviewing

Distribution – Pingdom for Web Server Uptime and Performance Monitoring or Ninefold for Rails Hosting and Deployment

Customer – Asana for Communications and Task Management, Nimble HR for Collaborative tiring, or MailChimp for Online Email Marketing and Contact Management

Consumer – Stripe for Web and Mobile Payments, Zendesk for Customer Service

This list goes on. Slack integrates with tons of external services and they’re constantly growing their list. And since they have an API and several other tools, anyone who’s a customer of Slack has the power to create any integration themselves. As Andrew Braccia of Accel Partners states: ‘Slack is pushing “BYOA” (bring your own app) movement. Employees can choose to use apps a la carte that will help them get their work done.’ A PR representative from Slack did confirm upon question that while Slack presently has no intentions of becoming Open Source, they do continue to support and act as a primary host for software as a servie platform. Examples of their integration are found in their integration of plugins within GitHub.

a16z Podcast: Tools for How We Work Today with Stewart Butterfield:

It’s no wonder that after only 1 year the software company has been valued at $1.12 Billion. Companies all over the world including Walmart, Comcast and Airbnb have been using Slack to make their supply chains more efficient, including some small one’s like FooPlugins. And with a plethora of useful tips on utilization of the tool, it’s only a matter of time before it’s making it way through companies looking to simplify their communication process.


First launched in April of 2013 by founders Brad Vincent and Adam Warner, FooPlugins was designed with the intention of fulfilling the needs of WordPress users and other developers by providing 100% General Public License (Open Source) of plugins utilized by WordPress and jQuery communities. The uniqueness of the Foo Plugin’s brand exceeds from the tool in itself; its founders are from two opposite sides of the world. Hailing in from sunny Florida in the United States, Adam Warner, and South African native, Brad Vincent, worked with one another utilizing Skype and e-mail services for nearly 18 months before finally meeting. And while their system worked: it was broken. They needed something that would make tracking their work history and projects smoother, more synchronized and clean. With a growing business, and an endless amount of work to be done, the reality of needing a dependable system to encourage clear communication and work tracking became inevitable. But what could work for Foo Plugins?

FooPlugins’ utilizes Slack – and this is why it works:

It goes without saying, that any entrepreneur, co-founder or employee will have an endless amount of emailed correspondences, text messages, or Skype logs that all pertain to the business. But what happens when that message or email gets lost in your archives, the text gets pushed back to a date that exceeds your search range: or worse, you can’t remember when you discussed a particular topic via Skype?

Enter Slack.

Within months of utilizing Slack’s interactive and all-inclusive management tool, FooPlugins’ became a cohesive team that was able to maintain its supply management and strengthen its core business needs through the usage of Slack.

By mainstreaming all of its team communications into one central location, topics can remain visible through the usage of hash tags that then become listed via ‘Channels.’ What heightens the convenience of Slack even further for companies like FooPlugins, is the integration of every day services that most companies already use: GitHub, DropBox, GoSquared, HelpScout, Trello, just to name a few. For issues regarding availability and access of past data, Slack utilizes all content searchable from their One Search Box feature. The days of losing your email to the unforgiving-archive folder are no more.

Given that FooPlugin’s utilizes WordPress’ eCommerce software, maintenance and support across the globe is both imperative, and a daily task. The beauty of Slack for FooPlugin’s, is that they are able to instantly code, and share codes amongst their teammates in real time: without having to wait on laggy email servers that just can’t keep up with the businesses’ needs, or dropped Skype calls on a poor connection.

Lessons Learned:

Slack has proven to be incredibly useful in the software supply chain. But it doesn’t stop there. With companies like Walmart and Comcast on the consumer side, it will only be a matter of time before we see more physical-good consumer industries utilizing Slack’s powerful and seamless integration.

And with the low, low price of $8.00 per month per user, you can’t go wrong. Accessibility is any time, anywhere: maintaining transparency and convenience of real time communications either on a one on one, and private group messaging basis. ​

Submitted By: Amanda Pereira, Michael Racioppo

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