Slack took the office communications panorama by storm after it launched its integration-friendly, GIF-tastic chat platform in 2013. Within the area of a decade it entered into the pantheon of Big Tech: First with large development and utilization, then a sequence of large 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 referred to as Quill, accessible by approach of apps for the net, 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 tasks and extra. It is (additionally like Slack) priced as a freemium service, with a $15 per person, monthly tier giving customers extra message historical past and storage. An enterprise tier can also be on the playing cards.
Unlike Slack — the implication appears to be — the distinction is that Quill is about delivering messaging in a nondistracting approach that doesn’t take up an excessive amount of of your time, your focus and your power. Quill payments itself as “messaging for people that focus.”
So whilst you get loads of the identical options you’ve got in Slack for chatting with staff, creating channels, integrating different apps, and having video and voice conversations — one of my colleagues quipped, “It looks like Slack, but more colorful!” — it additionally features a bunch of options that put the focus on, effectively, focus.
“We grew exhausted having to skim thousands of messages every day to keep up, so we built a way to chat that’s even better than how we already communicate in person,” Quill notes on its website. “A more deliberate way to chat. That’s what Quill is all about.”
For instance, “structured channels” allow you to implement threads in a channel for various conversations relatively than view chatter in a waterfall. Automatic sorting in the app strikes up lively conversations you’re in above others. Limitations on notifications imply you possibly can have extra nuance in what finally would possibly find yourself distracting you. For instance, senders can alter a setting (with a !!) to notify you if one thing is crucial and desires to ping you. Video chats come mechanically with a sidebar to proceed texting, too.
Then, you get separate channels for social and nonwork chat; and a sequence of options that allow you to manipulate conversations after they’ve already began: You can recast conversations into threads after they’ve already began and you’ve got a quick approach to reply to messages. There is a neater and extra apparent approach to pin necessary issues to the tops of channels; and as well as to creating new threads after a dialog begins, you too can transfer messages from one channel or thread to one other.
You may also work together with Quill chats utilizing SMS and e-mail, and like Slack, it presents the capacity to combine different app notifications into the course of.
It’s additionally working on including a Clubhouse-like characteristic for voice channels, end-to-end encryption, context-based search (it already has key phrase search), and person profiles.
Managing “high load”
The app has been in stealth mode for almost three years, and whereas some tasks would possibly by no means go observed in that point, this one is a little bit totally different as a result of of the pedigree and the context.
For starters, Quill was based by the former artistic director of Stripe, Ludwig Pettersson, who was given loads of the credit score for the simplicity and focus of the cost firm’s flagship product and platform (simplicity that turned the hallmark of the service and helped it balloon right into a commerce behemoth).
His involvement signaled that the effort would possibly get a minimum of a little bit consideration. In a panorama that appeared to be all however dominated by Slack and some big, well-funded rivals in the kind 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 (at the time the head 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 firm at $62.5 million, as we reported at 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 simply 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 quantity of folks criticizing it for being the reverse of productive. “It’s hard to track everything that’s going on in Slack, it can be distracting. Given the network effect, Slack has become powerful, but 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 bought wind of it.
He stated he was “super impressed” by Ludwig’s work at Stripe, after which OpenAI (the place he stayed for a 12 months after leaving Stripe), a lot in order that when Ludwig advised constructing “a better version of Slack,” it appeared like a “credible idea” and one value backing even with no product but to be constructed.
It’s fairly becoming that for an app targeted on focus, Quill launched right this moment quietly and with out a lot fanfare: Why fear about PR distraction when you possibly can simply get one thing out there?
In any case, we’re hoping to hear extra and see what form of momentum it picks up. We’ve requested Index if we will speak to Sarah Cannon about the funding, and we’re nonetheless ready to hear again. We are additionally making an attempt to see if we will speak to Pettersson. But I ought to point out we’ve 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).