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How Slack built a well loved product going against Peter Thiel and native app fashion

Stashed in: JavaScript, Words!, Peter Thiel, Awesome, Apps, 37signals, Medium, Mobile Dev!, Slack

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One of my favorite devs talks about why he loves a product, with details on the process.

Dion was wrong! The mobile apps are native :/

Not native, no JS, and no Node / io.js ... Just LAMP and native apps.

These days you would expect Slack, as an app pushing the Web, would be diving into React or Angular or Ember.

There is no way it would be powered by some brute force DOM manipulation with jQuery right? No ugly brittle code like this?

$(“#col_channels_bg”).parent().prepend(‘ <div id=”col_channels_collapse_view” class=”channels_list_holder”> <div class=”section_holder starred_section”><h2>starred</h2><ul id=”starred-list-collapsed”></ul></div> <div class=”section_holder”><h2>channels</h2><ul id=”channel-list-collapsed”></ul><div class=”clear-both”></div></div> <div class=”section_holder” id=”direct_messages_collapsed”><h2>dms</h2><ul id=”im-list-collapsed”></ul><div class=”clear-both”></div><a id=”im_list_collapsed_more” class=”list_more hidden”>X</a></div> <div class=”section_holder”><h2>groups</h2><ul id=”group-list-collapsed”></ul></div> </div>‘);

Huh, and that killer node (whoops io.js? ;) or go backend? Nope, LAMP.

What made Slack successful was simplicity, polish, and people loving the product.

Peter Thiel talked about how your business needs to build something that is 10x better that what is out there. Larry Page and others have also talked about the need to leap-frog. Revolution over evolution.

Imagine for a second that Stewart Butterfield had decided to start off with Slack (versus doing another genius pivot) and he had come out and said:

“We are going to do a better group chat! It will be worth billions!”

You would have laughed. It is such a crowded market. Hell 37Signals decided to close up shop on Campfire and focus on Basecamp. They thought that it was basically done and weren’t adding features!

“According to Fried, Campfire and Highrise will likely sell for single digit and tens of millions respectively”

Slack was a better Campfire. It’s search was so much better (with ElasticSearch and friends it is so much easier to make search awesome in your products!). They added features (e.g. private groups really matter to many companies. I wonder if 37Signals missed this as they are a small company that didn’t need it themselves?). They polished (how they grok URL pasting).

I do like the word MUDITA.

I enjoy watching companies do fantastically well against the grain. It is the opposite of schadenfreude, and although the Germans may not have a word for it the buddhists have the concept: mudita.

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