Despite a checkered history with online platforms, developers are always looking for the next big distribution model and a small but growing number is betting Slack, the popular group-messaging platform, is the way to go.
One such startup, Austin-based Howdy, may be the first to nab venture funding based largely on that vision. Specifically, the company, which has developed a customizable chat bot application that runs automated tasks for teams on Slack, has just nabbed $1.5 million in venture funding from Bloomberg Beta, True Ventures, a small angel group called Outlier and numerous individual investors.
Howdy is first and foremost a time saver for now, especially when it comes to meetings. For example, after connecting to Slack, the app can simultaneously message each member of a team, collecting status updates that can be archived and viewed by everyone. The idea: to keep meetings from turning into one long catch-up session and enabling attendees to focus on decision-making instead. (Worth noting: Howdy can also be used to collect everyone’s lunch orders. It’s up to the team using it.)
Howdy co-founder Ben Brown says the still-in-beta company will eventually charge customers on a monthly basis but that it’s a “little early to know the details.” What he says he does know is that providing applications, content and services via messaging applications is becoming a “huge opportunity.”
Andrew Braccia of Accel Partners doesn’t tweet or write blog posts. He rarely talks with the media. But that doesn’t mean the 39-year-old isn’t working it. In fact, Braccia may have landed as big a deal for Accel as Facebook, whose $12.7 million Series A investment produced billions of dollars for its investors.
That company? Slack.
I had coffee with Braccia last week to ask about his early bet on the company, which Accel led with help from Andreessen Horowitz. It could become the defining deal of Braccia’s career, despite his other prescient bets, including on the high-profile Hadoop software company Cloudera (expected to go public sooner than later); Vox Media (owner of The Verge, SB Nation, Vox and Recode); and the 30-year-old, fast-growing online learning company Lynda.com, which had raised nearly $300 million from investors in recent years and announced in April that it was being acquired by LinkedIn for $1.5 billion.
Our chat, edited for length, here.