Slack Technologies, a startup company out of Silicon Valley, has raised more than $300 million in funding. Now, the company wants to pay it forward by giving back some of that money. The startup darling runs a corporate chat service that is growing in popularity. It is now developing an $80 million venture fund to invest in other startup companies.
The chief executive officer of Slack, Stewart Butterfield, reported that his company is contributing more than 50% of the total venture fund. The rest of the money will come from some of Slack’s own financial backers. Butterfield stated that the goal of the fund is to invest from about $100,000 to $250,000 in smaller start up companies that develop applications that are compatible and work with Slack’s messaging service.
Slack has been valued at a whopping $2.8 billion but it is unusual for such a small, young company (in this case only 2 years old) to participate in corporate investing. Such investing is typically driven by the big guns such as Google, Qualcomm, Intel and Salesforce.com.
Butterfield has often spoken about the ease with which his company has been able to raise funds. That is why his company is committing more than $40 million to invest in other companies.
Butterfield says that Slack, which has made only two acquisitions in its young lifetime, is not necessarily focused on building a list of companies to buy one day. “We can’t preclude the possibility that we would ever acquire someone we invest in, but that’s not the point. Hopefully, we actually make some money on our investments.”
Instead, Butterfield points out that the purpose of his company’s venture fund is to show that viable, successful businesses can be built on Slack’s platform. “It could be something that would replace a wiki, or allow you to check on your 401(k) status in the form of a bot, or something that we haven’t imagined at all.”
The venture fund’s contributors include Andreessen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Accel Partners and Index Ventures.