Slack files for IPO, calls Microsoft its ‘primary competitior’

Popular Office messaging platform Slack has filed the paperwork with the SEC to become a publicly traded company. Slack made a huge fuss about Microsoft entering its territory two years ago and the SEC filing provides us with a good reason.

Slack has listed out Microsoft as its primary competitor but has also called out Facebook, Google and others as indirect rivals to the company’s product offerings.

New competitors or alliances among competitors may emerge and rapidly acquire significant market share due to factors such as greater brand name recognition, a larger existing user and/or customer base, superior product offerings, a larger or more effective sales organization, and significantly greater financial, technical, marketing, and other resources and experience.

– Slack

Slack has also taken an indirect route for IPO. The company has decided to offer investors to cash out if they want to instead of issuing new shares to the public. This option is less preferred by companies but saves a lot of money in underwriting. This also minimizes the role of investment banks in the IPO and lets the company be in charge of the process. However, this process won’t help Slack raise money as the shares are changing hands instead of new shares being introduced in the market. Last year, Spotify took the same route to go public and it was a huge success.

According to CNBC (via The Washington Post), Slack is valued at just under $17 billion and its shares are divided into two classes- A and B. The Class A stocks will have one vote per share while the Class B shares which are held by 435 stockholders, will have a super-voting power of 10 votes per share. The SEC filing lists Accel as its largest shareholder at 24%, holding nearly 120 million shares in the company. Andreessen Horowitz owns 66.5 million shares, about 13.3%. Social Capital’s holds 10.2%, followed by SoftBank who holds 7.3%. Slack co-founder and chief executive Stewart Butterfield owns 8.6% while Slack’s director Andrew Braccia of Accel holds 24%. Slack is expected to go public in the coming months and will trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol SK.

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