The New York Times

Slack Wants to Replace Email. Is That What We Want?

Slack is coming for your job. The workplace chat company, valued at more than $7 billion at the time of its last funding round, is going public this week. It claims to already have more than 10 million daily users and, in its listing prospectus, bills itself as the answer to bloated inboxes everywhere.

This is all very exciting, if you’re Slack. But most of us aren’t quite there yet. The company says it has 88,000 paying customers — a sliver of a sliver of the world’s desk-and-phone-bound office workers, and fewer than work full time at, for example, Google’s parent company, Alphabet.

Speaking of Google, the company has a Slack alternative of its own, called Hangouts Chat, as does Facebook, in Workplace. Microsoft has Teams, which is bundled with its Office software and which the company says is being used by more than 500,000 organizations. This multifront attack on email is just beginning, but a wartime narrative already dominates: The universally despised office culture of replies and forwards and mass CCs and “looping in” and “circling back” is on its way out, and it’s going to be replaced by chat apps. So what happens if they actually win?

What We Talk About When We Talk About Chat

A workplace does not simply start using Slack. It is not “adopted” in the manner of a new system for expenses, or a new video meeting app. Slack arrives like word

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