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Slack took the workplace communication landscape by storm after launching its integration-friendly GIF-tastic chat platform in 2013. Within a decade, it entered the Big Tech Hall of Fame: First with massive growth and use, then a series of giant tours and venture capital valuations, spawning controversial competition from incumbents, followed by public listing and finally a $ 27.7 billion acquisition by Salesforce. Now that the cycle is over, the decks are clear for a Slack Disruptor!

Today, a quietly and quietly launched new app called Quill, available through apps for the web, macOS, Windows, Linux, Android, and iOS.

Like Slack, Quill is a messaging app for coworkers to update each other on what they’re doing, have project conversations, and more. It is (also like Slack) priced as a freemium service, with a tier of $ 15 per user per month, which gives users more history and message storage. A business level is also on the cards.

Unlike Slack – the implication seems to be – the difference is that Quill is all about delivering messages in a non-distracting way that doesn’t take too much time, focus, and energy. Quill describes himself as “a message for people who concentrate.”

So even though you get the same features as Slack for chatting with employees, creating channels, integrating other apps, and having video and voice chats, one of my coworkers joked, “It looks like Slack. , but more colorful! ” – he also includes a bunch of features that emphasize, well, focus.

“We were exhausted having to go through thousands of messages every day to keep pace, so we created an even better way to chat than the way we already communicate in person,” Quill notes on her website. “A more deliberate way of discussing. That’s what Quill is. “

For example, “structured channels” allow you to apply threads in one channel for different conversations rather than displaying the chatter in a waterfall. Auto-sorting in the app brings up active conversations where you are above others. The limitations on notifications mean you can have more nuance on what might end up distracting you. For example, senders can change a setting (with a !!) to alert you if something is critical and needs to ping you. Video chats also come automatically with a sidebar to keep texting.

Then you get separate channels for social and non-professional chat; and a series of features that let you manipulate conversations once they’ve already started: you can recast conversations into threads after they’ve already started, and you have a quick way to reply to messages. There is an easier and more obvious way to pin important items to the top of channels; and in addition to creating new threads after starting a conversation, you can also move messages from one channel or thread to another.

You can also interact with Quill chats using SMS and emails, and like Slack, it offers the option to integrate other app notifications into the process.

He’s also working on adding a Clubhouse-like feature for voice channels, end-to-end encryption, contextual search (he already has a keyword search) and user profiles.

Management of “high load”

The app has been in stealth mode for almost three years, and while some projects may never get noticed around this time, this one is a bit different due to its pedigree and context.

For starters, Quill was founded by former Stripe Creative Director Ludwig Pettersson, who received a great deal of credit for the simplicity and focus of the payment company’s flagship product and platform. (simplicity that has become the hallmark of the service and helped it. balloon into a trade monster).

His involvement indicated that the effort could attract at least some attention. In a landscape that seemed almost dominated by Slack and a few huge, well-funded rivals in the form of Microsoft and Facebook, it’s noteworthy that when Quill was just an idea, he had already raised $ 2 million in seed funding. with Sam Altman (then head of Y Combinator) and General Catalyst.

Subsequently, she raised a $ 12.5 million Series A led by Sarah Cannon of Index Ventures, for total funding of $ 14.5 million. Series A valued the company at $ 62.5 million, as we reported at the time.

Add to that Quill’s story and what led Pettersson and other members of his team to the idea of ​​building it. From what we understand, the idea in its early days was to capture something of the communication magic you get from messaging apps, and in particular, workplace communication tools like Slack, but without the distraction and frustration that often ensue.

In 2018, Slack was already a big product, valued at over $ 7 billion and attracting millions of users. But there was also a growing number of people criticizing it for being the opposite of productive. “It’s hard to keep up with everything that happens in Slack, it can be distracting. Considering the network effect, Slack got powerful, but it wasn’t designed as a heavy load system, ”Sam Altman, investor and former director of Y Combinator and OpenAI told me. , in 2018, when I asked him what he knew about Quill after I heard about it for the first time.

He said he was “super impressed” with Ludwig’s work at Stripe, and then with OpenAI (where he stayed a year after leaving Stripe), so much so that when Ludwig suggested building “a better Slack version ”, it sounded like a“ credible idea ”and one worth supporting even without a product to build.

It’s only fitting that for a focus-oriented app, Quill today quietly and without much fanfare launched: why worry about the distraction of PR when you can just get something?

Either way, we hope to hear more and see what kind of momentum it takes. We asked Index if we could talk to Sarah Cannon about investing, and we’re still waiting for a response. We’re also trying to see if we can talk to Pettersson. But I have to mention that we’ve been trying to talk to him since we got wind of this app in August 2018, so we’re not holding our breath (nor this story).


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