Slack vs Microsoft Teams: the collaboration app battle
Yesterday, Microsoft announced that its workplace messaging app Microsoft Teams has exceeded expectations and targets, growing by 54% since July - from 13mn users in July to more than 20mn daily active users today.
The ongoing battle to pick clean the carcass of email as an internal communication tool took a turn for the worse as far as collaboration app Slack is concerned.
Slack still managed to grow its own user base by 20% in the last year, but its expansion is bringing it into direct competition with apps like Teams, while a host of eager startups and spin-offs nip at its heels.
Slack countered the announcement as misleading, however. “You can’t transform a workplace if people aren’t actually using your product. Slack continues to see unmatched engagement on our platform with over 5bn weekly actions, including more than 1bn mobile actions,” a Slack spokesman told MarketWatch in an email. “Among our paid customers, users spend more than 9 hours per workday connected to our service, including spending about 90 minutes per workday actively using Slack.” The company also threw a little shade in a blog post last month, claiming that almost three-quarters of its users are Office 365 users.
Which one is actually better?
Both applications offer freemium pricing models, basic text chat (with a few added things like stickers, GIFs and tagging), although according to Digital Trends’ recent coverage, Slack has better integration with apps like GIPHY, which “may be an important factor depending on how memetastic your office is.”
The free version of Teams comes with 3GB less storage than the free version of Slack, although Office 365 users get boosted to 1TB of space, whereas Slack’s premium plan caps out at 20GB per user.
The two services provide a sliding scale of application integrations, with Slack offering up to 800, but capping the free version at 10. Teams only offers about 180, but they’re all available from the get-go.
Regardless of which company is this week’s victor, it’s clear that the competition over communication inside (and outside) the enterprise is being valued at a premium, and we’re in the middle of a radical shift in the way people exchange information digitally at work.
According to Slack’s VP & General Manager of Platform, Brian Elliott, the industry is “seeing a generational shift in how we collaborate at work. People are moving away from email and into channels, away from legacy suites of badly connected products and onto a new customisable platform that can more easily connect the tools they use to work.”
Tech Corporations Fight for Alternative ESG Filings
In 2021, almost a third of global equity inflow went into ESG funds, according to the Bank of America. In April alone, ESG assets hit US$1.4tn, growing at 3x the rate of non-ESG funds. And although it seems like solar panel and electric car firms should take the cake for sustainable investment, it’s actually the world’s largest tech firms that command the market.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the most commonly held S&P 500 stocks in actively managed sustainable equity funds include Microsoft, Alphabet, and Apple. So it struck many as odd that in a June 11th letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Alphabet requested that ESG information not be disclosed in annual 10k filings.
Who Signed The Letter?
Only some of the most influential tech giants in the world...
To be fair, these companies aren’t against ESG and sustainable business. ‘Collectively, we purchase more than 21 gigawatts of clean energy and many of us are members of the UN Race to Zero and America is All In campaigns’, the joint letter to the SEC stated. ‘Each company has an individual goal to procure 100% renewable energy’.
Then Why Protest?
According to the tech companies, filing ESG information might open them up to legal risks. After all, sustainability reporting relies on estimates and assumptions that involve uncertainty—and governance issues such as fair labour are much harder to track than annual financial data. ‘It is important not to subject companies to undue liability’, the companies wrote.
Instead of reporting ESG data in their annual 10k filings, Alphabet et. al suggest that the SEC should allow for new climate-related reporting outside of the current annual or quarterly schedules. By adjusting the reporting frequency and timing, they argue, companies can provide a better and more accurate measure of how they’re doing with ESG.
Who Opposes Alternative ESG Reporting?
For the most part, asset managers aren’t thrilled. Pimco, Invesco, and other major asset funds want ESG information disclosed—the standard way. As of right now, the SEC still intends to make ESG 10k filings mandatory. ‘[Alphabet] positions itself as a sustainability leader’, said Josh Zinner, CEO of the Interfaith Centre on Corporate Responsibility. Added Molly Betounray, Director of Shareholder Advocacy at Clean Yield Asset Management: ‘While it’s great to see corporate ESG leaders advocating for climate disclosure standards, we disagree with their assertion that these disclosures should fall outside current standard SEC filings’.
What’s the Verdict?
Maybe Alphabet, Amazon, and Intel are honestly trying to frame ESG reporting in a new light. As Patrick Flynn, Vice President for Sustainability at Salesforce said: ‘[ESG disclosure] is a new process for companies to go through, and they’ll need to establish new procedures. Allowing for some sort of safe harbour from liability…[allows] companies to push in willingly and not just do the bare minimum’.
In their letter to the SEC, these companies chose to recommend several concrete actions:
- Use a principles-based framework, akin to the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD)
- Base GHG emissions on global standards, such as the World Resources Institute GHG Protocol
- Leverage existing SEC frameworks to reduce the reporting burden
- Adjust the timing and frequency of ESG reporting
In short: before we mandate ESG reporting, the SEC should at least think twice about how to design it.