Why Does Slack Spend So A lot on Gross sales and Advertising? — The Motley Idiot


“Our progress is essentially resulting from word-of-mouth suggestions,” Slack (NYSE:WORK) writes in its prospectus. Phrase-of-mouth referrals are extensively thought of the very best sort of promoting for 2 causes: These sorts of referrals are extraordinarily compelling as a result of they arrive from pals and friends as an alternative of a paid salesperson, and meaning the corporate would not must spend as a lot on its salesforce.

Corporations that profit from word-of-mouth referrals are likely to additionally take pleasure in elevated effectivity when it comes to gross sales and advertising and marketing bills. Slack would not.

Cal Henderson, Allen Shim, and Stewart Butterfield standing in front of the NYSE

From left to proper: Co-founder and CTO Cal Henderson, CFO Allen Shim, and co-founder and CEO Stewart Butterfield. Picture supply: Slack.

Slack spends over half of income on gross sales and advertising and marketing

As an example this level, let’s evaluate Slack’s gross sales and advertising and marketing spending to different enterprise software program corporations that equally rely closely on word-of-mouth suggestions: Dropbox (NASDAQ:DBX) and Atlassian (NASDAQ:TEAM).

“We purchase customers effectively and at comparatively low prices via word-of-mouth referrals, direct in-product referrals, and sharing of content material,” Dropbox wrote in its prospectus when it went public final 12 months. “We depend on word-of-mouth and low-touch demand era to drive trial, adoption and growth of our merchandise inside prospects,” Atlassian mentioned in its personal prospectus when it made its public debut again in 2015.

Nonetheless, the numbers paint a unique image when it comes to spending effectivity. As a proportion of income, Slack spends excess of both Dropbox or Atlassian.

Earnings Assertion Metric (TTM)





$454.5 million

$1.5 billion

$1.1 billion

Gross sales and advertising and marketing

$257.9 million

$384 million

$240.Eight million

Gross sales and advertising and marketing as a proportion of income




Knowledge supply: SEC filings. TTM = trailing 12 months.

The discrepancy is stark. Whereas Slack is smaller than Dropbox and Atlassian when it comes to income, all three corporations nonetheless have related advertising and marketing fashions the place adoption tends to be pushed from the underside up inside a corporation after customers rave concerning the product.

Slack is already seeing progress decelerate, during which case investing extra in gross sales and advertising and marketing is warranted. The corporate does plan on persevering with to take a position closely in its direct salesforce: “We plan to extend the greenback quantity of our funding in gross sales and advertising and marketing for the foreseeable future, primarily for elevated headcount for our direct gross sales group and funding in model and product advertising and marketing efforts.”

The truth is, Slack higher resembles Field (NYSE:BOX), considered one of Dropbox’s major opponents. Field is smaller than Dropbox ($630.9 million in trailing-12-month income) and in addition depends much less on word-of-mouth, as an alternative preferring to leverage a direct salesforce. The smaller cloud storage supplier has spent $314 million on gross sales and advertising and marketing over the previous 12 months — 49.8% of income.

There is not any doubt that Slack is extremely in style on the earth of enterprise messaging. But it surely appears the corporate cannot depend on word-of-mouth suggestions as a lot because it purports, and is spending closely to compensate.


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