When you become a $US1.1 billion company in just 9 months, you would think companies would be lined up outside your door, begging to be acquired.
But that certainly wasn’t the case with Slack when it first tried to buy Screenhero, a two-year old startup that specialises in real-time collaboration features, such as screen sharing and voice calls.
Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield says he first reached out to Screenhero CEO Jahanzeb Sherwani last July. Butterfield had just started using Screenhero around then, but he liked it so much that he wanted to just acquire the whole company. Yet, when Butterfield threw the idea of a possible acquisition, he didn’t get the answer he was looking for.
“He (Sherwani) said very politely, but firmly, that he was interested, but wanted to remain independent,” Butterfield told Business Insider.
So the two kept in touch for the next 7 months, discussing possible ways to better integrate their products. Screenhero, mostly used by remote teams of developers, saw pretty good growth, even after charging its users in August. But Sherwani wanted to expand beyond just developers to general users. And the more he thought about it, it became obvious that partnering with Slack, a company that’s grown users 25x in one year, was the best way to do it.
“We wanted to expand our customers to any remote teams of people working together. Slack is used by much more than just developers so the use case will be much wider,” Sherwani tells us.
Butterfield says, “The process took 7 months of wooing.”
By integrating Screenhero’s technology, Slack will be able to embed collaboration features like screen sharing, voice and video call, directly into its software. One of the cooler features of Screenhero is the ability to have multiple mouse cursors move on the same screen at the same time, making it much easier for users to communicate and work together.
It also has voice and video features that will be available on Slack soon. Butterfield didn’t say exactly when the new services will be available, but described the new features as, “When you’re talking to someone on Slack, you’ll be able to tap on their avatar and start a voice call or video calls immediately.”
Exact terms of the deal were not disclosed. This is Slack’s second acquisition, after it bought Spaces in September 2014.
Founded in 2013, Screenhero has 6 total employees, who will all be joining Slack following the acquisition. It’s a Y Combinator alum and has raised $US2.6 million so far from True Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, and Elad Gil.