$5 billion Slack hires away a key Google shopping exec to reinforce a crucial weapon against Microsoft

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brian elliot slack Slack Slack GM of Platform Brian Elliot

  • $5 billion chat startup Slack has hired Brian Elliot, a key leader from Google Express, the search giant's same-day delivery service platform.
  • Elliot will be the General Manager of Platform, helping Slack work with outside developers including Salesforce, Google, and IBM.
  • The Slack Platform is a major weapon against the rising threat of Microsoft Teams, Workplace by Facebook, Atlassian Stride, and other chat apps.

Slack, the $5 billion work chat startup , has hired Google exec Brian Elliot to spearhead an important expansion effort and help it keep a leg up amid growing competition from Microsoft and $10 billion Aussie software giant Atlassian. He starts in December.

In his previous role, Elliot was the General Manager and an overall leader of Google Express , the search giant's shopping and delivery service. Now, at Slack, he'll serve as General Manager of Platform, helping the startup build out its app store for businesses - reinforcing a business that Slack sees as one of its most important initiatives .

Elliott tells Business Insider that he's a long-time fan of Slack. In the new role, "I'll focus on enabling discovery within Slack and building adoption of software products that make work easier and more productive," Elliot says.

The Slack Platform allows developers to build apps and chatbots that integrate straight into a normal Slack chatroom. So far, high-profile developers like Salesforce, IBM, and Google have all signed on with the Slack platform, with over 1,000 apps available in the Slack App Directory. Slack invests in platform startups, too.

This platform push is a crucial part of Slack's gameplan. The success of Slack, which recently hit a $200 million annualized run rate , sparked new competition. Now, rivals like Microsoft Teams , Workplace by Facebook , and Atlassian Stride are all gunning for Slack, trying to stem the startup's growth with their own alternative offerings.

Yet, as Slack VP of Product April Underwood tells Business Insider, there's huge opportunity: Slack's 9 million weekly active users spend 10 hours connected to the app daily, and an average of two hours and two minutes a day actually using it. Underwood says that developers want to reach those super-engaged users, and their apps will in turn make Slack more useful for businesses of all sizes.

"We're trying to do something that's never been done before," says Underwood.

Slack April Underwood April Underwood Slack VP of Product April Underwood

As for Elliot specifically, Underwood praises his skillset: Not only does he have experience with how marketplaces work, he also knows how to run a team of engineers. That's a major plus, given that Slack has around 100 engineers working on parts of the platform, says Underwood.

Elliot is the first-ever Slack exec to hold the title General Manager of Platform, but not the first exec with a similar mandate to help grow the platform. Back in December 2016, a man named Jason Shellen stepped down as Slack's head of platform .

Still, Underwood says that in hiring Elliot, "a senior leader of this caliber," the company is showing that the platform is a priority.

"Hopefully that serves as a pretty clear signal of our commitment" to the platform," says Underwood. "The future is looking bright for the platform."

Get the latest Google stock price here.

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