The CEO of $3.8 billion Slack has a smart idea to help people get off work early

Slack CEO Stewart ButterfieldSlackSlack CEO Stewart Butterfield

Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield doesn’t believe in long working hours.

It’s why one of Slack’s internal mantras is “work hard, go home.”

“The most productive employees from my experience are those who go home at 5:30PM, but are hyper-focused at work,” Butterfield said at a press gathering on Friday. “People can only think really hard for 6 to 8 hours a day.”

But it’s not so easy to be productive at all times in today’s work environment. A lot of files are spread across different software and it’s not always easy to find answers to simple questions like where’s the latest version of a certain file. Slack, for instance, uses 80 different pieces of software even though it only has about 350 employees.

Butterfield wants to fix this. And he believes he has an answer in Slack, the work communication app that’s helped his startup get to a $3.8 billion valuation in a little over two years.

At the center of his idea is a chat bot, the technology that lets users access third-party app content right within chat programs like Slack, bypassing the need to open up another app to see it. For example, users can use Slack to find sales data from Salesforce or submit expense reports for Concur right within Slack’s interface. Butterfield sees a future where Slack becomes smarter and more intelligent as it gathers more data, eventually automating some of the most repetitive tasks, like finding who’s leading what project.

“It’s an opportunity for us, where Slack becomes the browser and the command line for the enterprise,” he says.

Butterfield of course doesn’t see this happening overnight. Slack only recently surpassed 3 million daily active users, and most of its customers are small teams or businesses. That makes it hard to build an automated system like the way Google does simply because it doesn’t have enough data.

But a lot of people believe in Butterfield’s vision as he’s been able to raise almost all of the $540 million in VC funding over the past 2 years. And he thinks Slack will end up making everybody smarter and more efficient over time.

“Having a bot allows you to immediately answer those questions,” Butterfield says. “It’s incredibly powerful.”

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