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This is Slack’s new plan for big corporate clients

It’s a big Slack made up of a bunch of little Slacks.

The New Yorker TechFest 2016
Slack co-founder and CEO Stewart Butterfield 
Craig Barritt/Getty Images for The New Yorker

Slack, the chat service mostly for people at work, got its first five million users with a simple, great product — one that was best suited for early adopter-type companies with a few dozen or 100 employees.

That didn’t stop teams at big companies from trying to use Slack, and many obviously do — sometimes in smaller, unofficial or semi-official groups, and sometimes painfully.

But now Slack, which is almost three years old and has 800 employees itself, is revealing a new version of its communication software specifically built for big companies, called Slack Enterprise Grid.

In short, it’s a big Slack made of several smaller Slacks. Imagine a company-level directory of employees, but with separate, simpler Slack groups that people can belong to.

Slack’s new team lists

It also includes a few other things big companies often seek: Specific security and compliance features, plus compatibility with systems that retain data for things like electronic discovery in legal cases.

(Slack is also using the opportunity to announce a new partnership with SAP that will generate, among other things, a new Concur bot for those who love chatting with their expense-filing system, and to preview some new features that improve search and personalization within Slack.)

This all seems like a natural evolution for Slack, especially as competition pops up from companies like Cisco and Microsoft, which offer inferior user experiences but have longer track records selling to big corporate clients.

Another seemingly obvious future step might be a global Grid of Grids, so teams from different companies can Slack with each other and really compete with email. But first things first.

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