Facebook's enterprise chat tool, Workplace, is exploding in popularity
- More than 30,000 organizations are now using Facebook's enterprise communication tool, Workplace.
- Facebook is releasing a desktop chat app for Workplace and plans to add group video calling support soon.
- While monetization isn't a focus for Workplace yet, the product's early growth should scare competitors like Microsoft and Slack.
Facebook has quietly become a sizeable force in the competitive enterprise software market currently dominated by incumbents like Microsoft and newer upstarts like Slack.
The social network's communication tool for businesses, Workplace is now used by more than 30,000 organizations after one year, up from 14,000 in April. Facebook also announced on Thursday a desktop chat app for Workplace and plans to add support for group video calling "in the coming weeks."
In an interview with Business Insider, Workplace product manager Simon Cross contributed the tool's early success to the big companies that started using Workplace early. In its first year, Workplace managed to sign on a slew of household names like Starbucks, Delta, Lyft, Spotify, Heineken. The team also recently signed a deal with Walmart, the largest private employer in the world.
"Those names lend a huge amount of credibility to the product," said Cross. "A lot of other companies begin to sit up and take notice."
Workplace is now used in 79 languages and by people on every continent. And Facebook is in the process of aggressively expanding the team's ranks with open job listings for growth managers and salespeople.
The social network has yet to disclose how many businesses pay for the service, which charges per user per month. Facebook just recently started billing companies that elect to pay for features needed for managing larger workforces, like integration with compliance partners.
It's also unclear how deeply Workplace is being used within the 30,000 organizations that have signed on so far. That number includes companies that may not have deployed Workplace to all their employees, according to a Facebook spokesperson.
Privately-held Slack, by comparison, claims more than two million paid users and 50,000 paid teams, although large companies can pay for multiple teams to keep divisions within their organizations separate from each other.
According to Cross, Workplace's biggest advantage against chat-based competitors like Slack is that Facebook is building a full-fledged communication platform rather than a primarily chat-based experience. Workplace functions like a private version of Facebook, with familiar features like groups, live video, and more business-focused tools like integrations with Salesforce and Google's suite of apps.
"There are very few apps in this space to connect everyone from the CEO to the factory worker across a single product," said Cross.
Looking ahead, Cross said that Facebook is focused on reaching people "beyond the reach of traditional IT," like the Starbucks barista or Walmart clerk who otherwise may not have an easy way to see what is happening within their company more broadly.
Increasing the number of people who use Workplace inside a large organization is a good thing for Facebook's pay-per-user business model, but Cross stressed that making money isn't a priority right now.
"We're primarily focused on growth and engagement versus monetization at this point," he said.