Venture

Slack’s Startup Investments As It Preps For Direct Listing

Slack, soon to trade as WORK on the public market, integrates numerous productivity apps into its workplace messaging app.

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To encourage this development, Slack and its corporate venture capital arm, the Slack Fund, have invested in 42 startups, according to Crunchbase. So far this year, the messaging unicorn is making good headway on its investment pace, with six startup investments recorded in 2019.

In chart form, including 2019’s tally, the company’s investing pace looks like this:

Given Slack’s short tenure as an investor, there’s not terribly much in the way of trends we can pull from the data. But here are some interesting notes:

  • Accel and Bessemer Venture Partners have each taken the lead on two investments that Slack has also participated in.
  • Over 83% of the investments Slack has participated in are seed or early-stage.
  • Slack has made follow-on investments in four startups: Astound, Pinpoint, Plato, and Wade & Wendy. Notably, half of those follow-on rounds were made in 2019, with Crunchbase recording Slack’s participation in Astound’s $15.5 million Series B in late April and Pinpoint’s $13.5 million Series A in late February. Both are also the largest deals that Slack has participated in so far in 2019 in dollar terms.

As for Slack’s other early-stage bets this year, not much is going against the grain. There are hints that Slack is looking beyond its messaging platform with its investment in GRID, a startup based in Iceland that creates web apps out of spreadsheets.

Its other bets for 2019—Polly, a Seattle-based survey company; Hone, a training platform; and Halp, a ticketing system for IT teams designed around Slack—are well within Slack’s historical wheelhouse: investing in startups that bolster Slack’s ecosystem.

Of course, an up-and-coming direct listing could encourage Slack to take bigger investment swings, especially if signs of its core business begin to wane over time. It’s not unheard of for platforms to batten down the hatches in return for capturing more revenue.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias.