Slack took the office communications panorama by storm after it launched its integration-friendly, GIF-tastic chat platform in 2013. Within the house of a decade it entered into the pantheon of massive tech: first with huge progress and utilization, then a sequence of big VC rounds and valuations, spawning controversial competitors from incumbents, adopted by a public itemizing and finally a $27.7 billion acquisition by Salesforce. Now that the cycle is full, the decks are clear for a Slack disruptor!
Today, a brand new app quietly launched out of stealth known as Quill, out there by the use of apps for the online, MacOS, Windows, Linux, Android and iOS.
Like Slack, Quill is a messaging app for co-workers to replace one another on what they’re doing, have conversations about initiatives and extra.
Unlike Slack — the implication appears to be — the distinction is that Quill is about delivering messaging in a non-distracting approach that doesn’t take up an excessive amount of of your time, your focus, and your vitality. Quill payments itself as “messaging for those who focus.”
So whilst you get lots of the identical options you’ve in Slack for chatting with employees, creating channels, integrating different apps, and having video and voice conversations — one in every of my colleagues quipped, “It seems like Slack, however extra colourful!” — it additionally features a bunch of options that put the deal with, effectively, focus.
“We grew exhausted having to skim 1000’s of messages each day to maintain up, so we constructed a method to chat that’s even higher than how we already talk in particular person,” Quill notes on its web site. “A extra deliberate method to chat. That’s what Quill is all about.”
For instance, “structured channels” allow you to implement threads in a channel for various conversations somewhat than view chatter in a waterfall. Automatic sorting within the app strikes up lively conversations you’re in above others. Limitations on notifications imply you may have extra nuance in what finally may find yourself distracting you, and senders for instance can alter a setting (with a !!) to inform you if one thing is important and must ping you. Video chats come mechanically with a sidebar to proceed texting, too.
Then, you get separate channels for social and non-work chat; and a sequence of options that allow you to manipulate conversations after they’ve already began: you may recast conversations into threads after they’ve already began and you’ve got a quick method to reply to messages. There is a neater and extra apparent method to pin necessary issues to the tops of channels; and along with creating new threads after a dialog begins, you may also transfer messages from one channel or thread to a different.
You may work together with Quill chats utilizing SMS and e mail, and like Slack, it gives the power to combine different app notifications into the method.
It’s additionally engaged on including a Clubhouse-like function for voice channels, end-to-end encryption, context-based search (it already has key phrase search), and consumer profiles.
Managing “excessive load”
The app has been in stealth mode for almost three years, and whereas some initiatives may by no means go seen in that point, this one is slightly completely different due to the pedigree and the context.
For starters, Quill was based by the previous artistic director of Stripe, Ludwig Pettersson, who was given lots of the credit score for the simplicity and focus of the fee firm’s flagship product and platform (simplicity that grew to become the hallmark of the service and helped it balloon right into a commerce behemoth).
His involvement signaled that the trouble may get a minimum of slightly consideration. In a panorama that gave the impression to be all however dominated by Slack and some large, well-funded rivals within the type of Microsoft and Facebook, it’s notable that when Quill was simply an thought, it had already picked up $2 million in seed funding, from Sam Altman (on the time the top of Y Combinator) and General Catalyst.
Following that it raised a Series A of $12.5 million led by Sarah Cannon of Index Ventures, totaling some $14.5 million in funding in all. The Series A valued the corporate at $62.5 million, as we reported on the time.
Added to that is the story behind Quill and what introduced Pettersson and others on his staff to the thought of constructing it. From what we perceive, the thought in its earliest inception was to seize one thing of the magic of communication that you just get from messaging apps, and particularly from office communication instruments like Slack, however with out the distraction and ensuing frustration that usually come together with them.
By 2018, Slack was already an enormous product, valued at over $7 billion and attracting hundreds of thousands of customers. But there was additionally a rising variety of folks criticizing it for being the alternative of productive. “It’s onerous to trace the whole lot that’s occurring in Slack, it may be distracting. Given the community impact, Slack has turn into highly effective, however it was not designed as a high-load system,” Sam Altman, the investor and former head of each Y-Combinator and OpenAI, stated to me again in 2018 once I requested him what he knew about Quill after I first acquired wind of it.
He stated he was “tremendous impressed” by Ludwig’s work at Stripe, after which OpenAI (the place he stayed for a yr after leaving Stripe), a lot in order that when Ludwig steered constructing “a greater model of Slack,” it appeared like a “credible thought” and one price backing even with out a product but to be constructed.
It’s fairly becoming that for an app targeted on focus, Quill launched right now quietly and with out a lot fanfare: why fear about PR distraction when you may simply get one thing on the market?
In any case, we’re hoping to listen to extra and see what sort of momentum it picks up. We’ve requested Index if we will discuss to Sarah Cannon concerning the funding, and we’re nonetheless ready to listen to again. We are additionally making an attempt to see if we will discuss to Pettersson. But I ought to point out we have now been making an attempt to speak to him since first getting wind of this app again in August of 2018, so we’re not holding our breath (nor this story).