Stewart Butterfield announces he’s stepping down as Slack’s CEO

Stewart Butterfield announces he’s stepping down as Slack’s CEO

Less than a week after co-CEO Bret Taylor said he would be departing Salesforce, Slack’s founder has also announced his decision to leave the company.

Stewart Butterfield

Stewart Butterfield

Credit: Slack

Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield will be stepping down from the vendor in January. The news comes less than a week after Salesforce’s co-CEO, Bret Taylor, said he would be departing the company at the end of the fiscal quarter.

Salesforce acquired Slack in 2020 for US$27 billion, in a deal where Taylor played a key role.

The news was first reported by Business Insider and later confirmed by Slack. In the internal message published by Insider, Butterfield said the two departures were not related, stating: “FWIW: This has nothing to do with Bret's departure. Planning has been in the works for several months! Just weird timing.”

Butterfield also said Chief Product Officer Tamar Yehoshua and Jonathan Prince, Slack’s senior vice president for marketing, brand communications, would be leaving the company.

A statement sent by a company spokesperson said: "Stewart is an incredible leader who created an amazing, beloved company in Slack. He has helped lead the successful integration of Slack into Salesforce and today Slack is woven into the Salesforce Customer 360 platform.”

While Salesforce’s sole CEO, Marc Benioff, has yet to announce if he plans to replace Taylor with a new co-CEO, Butterfield’s successor has already been named.

Lidiane Jones, who has been the executive vice president and general manager for digital experiences clouds at Salesforce, will be taking over the role in the New Year. Salesforce said Butterfield was instrumental in choosing Jones as the next Slack CEO.

“Lidiane is well respected and further brings Slack closer to Salesforce in terms of integration into various product areas,” said Jason Wong analyst at Gartner, adding that it’s clear Salesforce is taking Slack in a direction more aligned to extending and enabling its Customer 360 Platform, rather than promoting Slack as a general productivity platform.

Founded in 2013, Slack was not Butterfield’s first entrepreneurial endeavour.

Nine years earlier, he had founded photo sharing site Flickr, before selling it to Yahoo in 2005. Slack’s popularity eventually led to the messaging platform going public in 2019 before being purchased by Salesforce.

Wong notes that because Butterfield and Taylor were driving the vision of a combined Slack and Salesforce, their departures could cause some turbulence as new executives shape their own strategies.

However, he said Slack’s business performance has surpassed Salesforce’s own expectations, growing more than 40 per cent year over year in the company's latest fiscal quarter.

Given what he describes as Slack’s “standout in performance," Wong said it's unlikely Benioff will make any major leadership changes in response to the resignations, instead focusing on fiscal fourth quarter performance, given the economic headwinds over the past two quarters.

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