Stewart Butterfield is the CEO of Slack, the work chat app rumoured to be raising money at a $US2 billion valuation. Today he opened up about his life, his goals, and his perspectives on success in an interview with Inc.
“I’m going to end up with a lot more money than I feel like I’m entitled to given how hard I work,” Butterfield said.
Compared to those who work hard at multiple jobs just to pay for healthcare and childcare and food, Butterfield says, he feels like his compensation is disproportionate. He acknowledged that “luck and timing and race and gender play in all of this stuff.”
“If I was a woman, it would be twice as hard to do what I do. If I was black in the U.S., it would probably be five times as hard,” Butterfield said.
As for the young people (and a lot of Slack’s team are young developers) who are going to make millions from the company he founded, versus the fact that he had to work “s***ty jobs” when he was their age, he says that’s not really great, either.
“There’s something untoward, something incorrect — I’m not sure exactly what the word is. Wait, I know: Unfair. There’s something unfair in that,” Butterfield said.
Butterfield also discussed the agony of shutting down Glitch, the online game that would pivot into becoming Slack, in 2012. He called the experience of laying off 37 employees while making plans to take the company somewhere profitable as “pretty traumatic” and “humiliating.”
He also talked about what draws him to development and entreprenuership in the first place.
“Given where I was born and the time I was born, I wouldn’t ever have been a milliner or a leatherworker or blacksmith, but I can definitely appreciate the joy people get out of the exercise of their craft and that’s what motivates me,” Butterfield said.
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