Morning Report: Quickly this morning, it’s another edition of our continuing coverage of Incumbents v. Unicorns.
This week Microsoft made its Teams product an “on-by-default Office 365 feature,” a move that drew mixed reviews.
Teams competes with Slack, as Microsoft-watcher Paul Thurrott notes in a piece concerning the rollout. Slack has more mindshare currently, but the software giant isn’t willing to cede the space.
Microsoft, one of tech’s Big 5, controls a massive piece of the software productivity market and is loath to surrender any of its dollar-share. The company’s move to shift its traditional Office product to the subscription-based Office 365 service was part of this ethos. (Office 365 to-date has outpaced my early expectations, indicating a higher-than-anticipated willingness by consumers to by software in an aaS manner.)
Previously, Microsoft bought Yammer in an attempt to bring new-era tooling into its productivity stack, making its offerings more sticky. Yammer — ironically, I’m writing this in the same building Yammer once called home — failed to become Slack. After the Microsoft-Yammer deal, Slack became the dominant intra-office chat application.
Slack, an independent unicorn, has rapidly shot past the $100 million ARR pace marking it at as one of software’s most quickly growing companies in the current cycle, and perhaps ever.
Regardless, Microsoft’s Teams move may cut in slightly on Slack’s growth pace, which could lower its value in the eyes of investors. The situation should feel familiar. It’s reminiscent of Facebook’s endless moves to undercut Snap’s growth. As I wrote on Mattermark during the run-up to Snap’s IPO, Facebook had serious goals:
The analog holds decently well. Event the caveats work: Snap is not an existential threat to core Facebook offerings, just as Slack doesn’t impinge on Windows or Azure. But, in each case, one of tech largest firms is making repeated efforts to beat back a flashy, quickly-growing unicorn that could absorb a disproportionate share of market oxygen.
I suppose you could call this the anti-Unicorn hedge.
Today in the Crunchbase Daily:
Unicorns are hungry for startups
- Which of the most valuable private, venture-backed companies is the biggest acquirer of startups? By a wide margin, the winner is Dropbox, which has snapped up at least 23 companies in recent years. Overall, the ten most acquisitive unicorns have bought at least 122 companies, more than 40% of all purchases, according to a Crunchbase analysis. However, there are signs appetites for further M&A are waning some.
ServiceTitan raises $80M
- ServiceTitan, a provider of sales and booking software for home services businesses, announced that it has raised $80 million in a Series B round led by Iconiq Capital. The Glendale, Calif.-based company previously raised $18 million from Bessemer Venture Partners.
Hip hop stars outrank rockers in startup scene
- Hip hop artists outnumber rock stars in the ranks of active tech investors. That was the finding from a Crunchbase analysis of celebrity investors reported in TechCrunch. More than a dozen hip hop and pop stars have invested in startups, with at least six very active in tech circles.