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Slack must fight off an army of workforce management unicorns

3 weeks ago by Jon Marino in Facts, News

This morning, all across America, bad managers will wake up, roll into the office, check faxes, unfurl the morning paper, get ‘settled’ - and then send out a batch of assignments to underlings in an e-mailed spreadsheet, an un-connected and lifeless document that keeps staffers as disoriented as they are annoyed. Underlings can try to play catch-up on the weekly two-hour all-hands dial-in that could be much better managed as independent discussions. 

The good news is, in all likelihood, most of these managers won’t be managing for very long. That’s because they, their Rolodexes, six-figure expense accounts, their newspapers, their abacus - and yes, even those date-coded XLS files - will have been kicked to the curb. 

A new day is dawning, bringing to life software to better communicate and manage tasks. Monday, to be particular. That is, Monday.com ($MONDAY), the workforce software startup that - like so many others - is out to take on the newest behemoth in the space, Slack ($NYSE:WORK). But Monday has different services to provide, and it has plenty of competition. 

Our first chart tracks four startups in the workforce collaboration and tools space - Fuze ($FUZE), the Boston-based messaging and video-conferencing platform; Wrike ($WRIKE), California-based project management software, task management firm Asana ($ASANA), and Monday, the Israel-based collaboration and communication app. From top to bottom - Fuze headcount rose 10% from mid-January on; Wrike's increased 35% over that timeframe and Asana's grew 43%. Our Monday data, which tracks the startup's growth from mid-May, reflects a 34% increase over just a few months. We can gauge private companies' growth over time from their LinkedIn ($NASDAQ:MSFT) Employee Headcounts, posted online. 

Fuze was once a unicorn, in 2017, but it has struggled more recently. The company raised a disappointing down-round, leaving an opportunity for competitors to seize. And they have - Asana, led by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, has grown his company to unicorn status and Wrike sold a majority stake to private equity investor Vista Equity Partners, earning an $800 million valuation in 2018. Monday may be the smallest by staffing - but it earned a valuation of $1.9 billion in its last financing round. For posterity: Slack's LinkedIn headcount is more than 2,000; its valuation between $11 and $12 billion on public markets. 

In our next chart, collaboration computing champion Slack towers over competition in terms of its scale with users, as well. This chart tracks Google ($NASDAQ:GOOG) Play ratings submitted - a reflection of how many new users a product is able to attract. With more than double the number of user reviews submitted, Slack's scale is unmatched - Asana has a little under 27,000 total ratings, to Slack's 64,000-plus, and Wrike and Monday lag far behind. 

What Slack does not have, is the highest user rating. Just like the Apple Store, Google allows users to rank apps on a scale of one-to-five to determine satisfaction, and to determine which is the most-liked app our of our grouping. That distinction, with a rating higher than 4.5, belongs to Asana. Thinknum subscribers can access the full statistics here.

In a budding business with so many disparate tools, there is only so much room for consolidation. After all, when a company like Microsoft acquires a Skype or a Github, the organization isn’t integrated into the Microsoft platform, so much as companies are allowed to continue developing a user base that is part of a portfolio of services. For some of these messaging companies, if they cannot find a legacy tech player or a great IPO banker, it remains to be seen if they can generate profitability independently - which may mean hardship for the startups that can’t keep scaling. 

About the Data: 

Thinknum tracks companies using information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

Further Reading: 

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Jon Marino

Jon Marino is Thinknum's finance editor, covering the impacts of alternative data on public companies and investors. Prior to joining Thinknum, Jon worked in the ...

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