Microsoft just brought back the Bill Gates era with its new plan to take down Slack.
Adam Rifkin stashed this in Chatbots
Word on the street is that Microsoft Teams, the Redmond giant's new work chat app, can trace its origins back to Bill Gates.
Earlier this year, it was reported that Gates urged company leadership not to bid $8 billion for mega-hot Silicon Valley startup Slack, but rather reinvest in building out the business appeal of Skype, which it bought for $8.5 billion in 2011.
It seems that Microsoft took Gates' advice: According to a leak in September 2016, Microsoft experimented with calling the new product "Skype Teams," before settling on the apparently final name of just "Teams."
Really, though, even without that indicator, Microsoft Teams is so much like Bill Gates, he may as well have signed it. In fact, Microsoft Teams is itself the most Gates-esque move yet undertaken by Microsoft under Nadella's reign, aimed entirely at using Microsoft's sheer size and scale to edge out the competition.
Rather than pay $8 billion for Slack, which is more than twice its last private valuation of $3.8 billion, Microsoft has opted to take a bunch of technology and talent it already has and build a juggernaut that can't be stopped.
Microsoft's Office 365 subscription suite has 85 million monthly active users, all paying workplace customers, and all of whom will get access to Microsoft Teams when it leaves preview and officially launches next year.
That's a tremendous advantage for Teams, giving it a reach that other companies will have trouble matching. Plus, Microsoft already has important stuff like security and regulatory compliance at huge scales all sorted out, solving what's historically a huge headache for startups as they learn to sell to Fortune 500 companies.
Just as importantly, Teams boasts tight integrations with the whole Microsoft Office suite, which is already the standard for getting work done.
In other, important ways, Microsoft Teams couldn't exist without current CEO Satya Nadella and his kinder, gentler philosophy for the company.
Nadella has envisioned a world where the device you use matters less than the services connected to it: The whole idea behind Office 365 is that your apps and documents follow you across Windows PCs, Macs, Apple iPhones, Android tablets, and whatever else you connect it to. It's a stark contrast with Microsoft's imperialist, Windows-first reputation.
Chat is a natural fit for that. In our connected world, it's a huge boon to be able to start a conversation on one device and finish it on another. Combine that with the workplace nature of Microsoft Teams, where you can see the conversation going on around documents and data, and it plays right into that larger strategy.