April Underwood

April Underwood

Head of Platform at Slack

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON December 16, 2015

Discussion

April Underwood
April Underwood@aunder · Investor, #Angels
Hello! I'm April Underwood, head of Platform at Slack. My passion for technology started at a young age when I realized I could catalog and sort my baseball cards in Microsoft Works. I love working with engineers and designers to build and launch great products that people want to use. Last night, we announced some exciting news at Slack - the launch of an $80M Developer Fund and the Slack App Directory. Ask me anything!
Nik McFly
Nik McFly@nikmcfly · http://mcfly.aero
Hello April! Nice to e-meet you. We have a large (2.3k) Russian-speaking community of creatives (designers, developers, entrepreneurs etc) on Slack. We love it and we veeeeery need a paid account for free. Is it possible to get it? 🙏🙏🙏 Cheers, Nik http://creativerussia.co P.S. My previous comment was banned :(
Dhruv kumar
Dhruv kumar@dhruvakumar · Founder,icliniq.com
Hi @aunder - Its nice to hear about The launch of an $80M developer fund. Can you tell more about the kind of apps you look to fund?
April Underwood
April Underwood@aunder · Investor, #Angels
@dhruvakumar We're going to be looking at both apps that are designed to be “Slack-first”, and enterprise tools that are making Slack integration a core part of their offering. We will be supporting developers who want to join us in our our mission, which is to make people’s working lives simpler, more pleasant and more productive. While our App Directory is a big step toward helping developers reach an audience of 2M daily active users and growing, the Slack Fund is yet another way we can help developers take the leap to tackle problems for teams at work.
Dhruv kumar
Dhruv kumar@dhruvakumar · Founder,icliniq.com
@aunder @dhruvakumar Awesome. We have always embraced the "messaging app as a platform" approach. It is based on the premise that the top used app on a phone will always be a messaging app. :) In fact, we got banned for looking at whatsapp as a platform. But we got back on telegram and that was hunted here on PH by @erictwillis. Also let me spill the beans. We have made the first ever slackbot to get answers from real doctors. You will hear about it soon. :)
April Underwood
April Underwood@aunder · Investor, #Angels
@dhruvakumar can't wait to see more!
Dhruv kumar
Dhruv kumar@dhruvakumar · Founder,icliniq.com
@aunder @dhruvakumar - Hahaha. https://www.icliniq.com/apps/slack or www.slackdoctor.com is the link. Kindly give your feedback if possible. I have read about your healthcare investments cue.me and hale.co. Your feedback will help us to do improvements before we launch it officially tomorrow. :)
Abhishek Chakraborty
Abhishek Chakraborty@coffeeandjunk · UX Designer
Hey April, can you describe your typical day in Slack office?
April Underwood
April Underwood@aunder · Investor, #Angels
@coffeeandjunk it sounds cliché, but no two days are the same. I lead teams of product managers, business development, and developer relations, so I alternate between internal meetings to set our priorities and resolve decisions about product design and execution and external meetings with developers and strategic partners. I try to set aside a few hours per day in the office to be unscheduled, because we're growing fast here and I need time for the unexpected!
Jason Shah
Jason Shah@jasonyogeshshah · Product Person
Hi April! Extremely excited for the /launch! Clearly Slack is a unique platform, but how do you envision the Slack App Store evolving differently than other business platforms like Salesforce AppExchange, Google Apps Marketplace, (Microsoft) Office Store, and the App Store?
April Underwood
April Underwood@aunder · Investor, #Angels
@jasonyogeshshah we're excited, too! One of the key differentiators I see for our platform is that we're focused on teams at work, and helping make people's working lives simpler, more pleasant, and more productive. While that sounds pretty broad, it's actually quite focused in that we're focused on work use cases. Meanwhile, communication is such a foundational aspect of any person's work - who can get anything done without communicating with their team? If we can build a great communication layer for teams, then there are limitless work applications which can be built on top of Slack. One way I think of our goal is to reduce context switching between applications people use for work. So if you're in a design tool, you should get the benefit of being a Slack user by being able to share your designs into a Slack channel without having to copy+paste a URL and switch to Slack. Conversely, people should get the benefit of being Creative Cloud, or Lyft, or Github users while they're in Slack. If we can make the experience of using both Slack and other applications for work even just a little bit better, then I think we'll be helping users. So we view our relationship with developers in a very big-picture way focused on our core mission and I think that makes our approach unique.
Sophia
Sophia@splee9
@aunder Hi April, what's your design process like at slack?
Mike Melanin
Mike Melanin@mike_melanin · Co-founder @ Statsbot.co
Hi April! How many applies to Slack App Directory do you have in first day and how long will it take to review? Mike http://brobot.io
Kingsong Chen
Kingsong Chen@kingsongchen · Dev
Hi April, what are some interesting things that helped Slack achieve such fast growth?
April Underwood
April Underwood@aunder · Investor, #Angels
@kingsongchen Word of mouth has really been our strongest growth driver. Our users see less e-mail, fewer meetings and are more productive - which makes them happy and they tell their friends and colleagues. Our Wall of Love on Twitter (http://twitter.com/slacklovetweets has been one of the most interesting phenomena -- not many enterprise software companies get marriage proposals 😉
Arpit Gupta
Arpit Gupta@arpitgupta · Product Manager
@aunder What are some of the events/conferences that you really like to attend and recommend others to join as well?
April Underwood
April Underwood@aunder · Investor, #Angels
@arpitgupta I recently attended and spoke at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Next Gen conference and was inspired by the other speakers - from athletes to entrepreneurs to operators - and everyone I met. As a Texan, I'll always have a soft spot for SXSW but I always lose my voice by the second day!
Teresa Hammerl
Teresa Hammerl@colazionearoma · Socialmediapreneur
Hi April! What's your favorite emoji on Slack?
April Underwood
April Underwood@aunder · Investor, #Angels
@colazionearoma I love this question! My most used one is probably 🙏, which I use alternatively to mean "please", "thank you", and "one can only hope!"
@aunder @colazionearoma I always interpreted that emoji as a prayer ...
April Underwood
April Underwood@aunder · Investor, #Angels
@satpanesar @colazionearoma it seems all emojis are in the 👀 of the beholder.
Cobby Amoah
Cobby Amoah@cobbyamoah · CEO, Peach
@aunder How do you coordinate engineers and UI Designers? Do your UI/x people come up with designs and have engineers develop it or vice versa?
April Underwood
April Underwood@aunder · Investor, #Angels
@cobbyamoah I would say it's a collaborative process and it depends on the individuals involved. Ideally, product, engineering, and design put their heads together around a user problem and each group has a voice in the final product.
Mike Melanin
Mike Melanin@mike_melanin · Co-founder @ Statsbot.co
Could you provide any information how to apply to Slack Fund?
April Underwood
April Underwood@aunder · Investor, #Angels
@mikemockup Absolutely! Reach out to us at slackfund@slack.com. We look forward to hearing from you!
Michael Qin
Michael Qin@legendqin · UX Lead @ Battlefy
@aunder Hi April, Nice to meet you here. Few questions 1. what's the product pace in slack? do you iterate fast, test fast? 2.how do you guys do feature priorities, how to decide which one is going to build next? 3.how do you balance biz goal, product goal and design goal. Thanks 🙏
Louis Svugr
Louis Svugr@louis_sugar · I make and market stuff.
Hi April, thanks for doing this. What does it feel like to work at Slack? What's the atmosphere like? and most importantly, how do you keep up productivity in your team?
April Underwood
April Underwood@aunder · Investor, #Angels
@louis_sugar our core values here include both craftsmanship and playfulness, and that comes through in both our office space and how we work with one another. Oftentimes, it's remarkably quiet here at Slack as we're all working hard to do the best work of our careers and doing so most often inside Slack! Most of all, we are all very passionate about the problems we're trying to solve, and eager to build a company that's uniquely suited to solve them - that means building the right team of diverse perspectives and being thoughtful about how we do our work.
Nicki Friis
Nicki Friis@nickifriisw · Entrepreneur. Former Partner @ Ideanote.
Hey April, we want to be #Slack for Idea management. So excited to talk with you. You guys are our idols. You focus on the young talents inside companies and we try to do the same. We are trying to pull off the same tone of voice - but we're having some troubles when C-level try out our platform and don't fall in love with our tone of voice. Do you recommend focus on a different customer, changing our language, creating different versions/levels of voice, wait for them to adapt - other suggestion? I believe you have find some similar issues.. How do you solve them? #lovefromideanote
Junius
Junius@juniusfree
Hi, April. How will you divide your time if a user gives you one hour to solve his/her problem? Thanks!
Travis Northcutt
Travis Northcutt@tnorthcutt · Partner, Member Up
April — what's been the biggest *surprise* as you've worked on helping Slack evolve into a mature product? Or, if you'd like, the biggest surprise, period, in working on Slack?
April Underwood
April Underwood@aunder · Investor, #Angels
@tnorthcutt I would say the biggest surprise for me is how often someone I meet is visibly delighted when I tell them I work on Slack. I'm lucky to have had that experience before - when I joined Twitter in 2010 I would often see the same reaction! - but it never gets old to hear that people love your product. It's a big responsibility for us to help keep our customers so happy! ✨
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
Hey April! Thanks for joining us today I imagine it's a busy day at Slack :) I see the intro of the Slack Platform Launch, which includes Slack App Directory and Botkit, as an example of a company that is growing tremendously keeping an eye on innovation... how do you see it?
Harry Stebbings
Harry Stebbings@harrystebbings · Podcast Host @ The Twenty Minute VC
@aunder thanks so much for joining us today, I would love to hear what the most challenging aspect of your job is as slack turns into a global powerhouse? Thanks so much again!
@aunder Hello, thanks for taking the time ... what processes or filters has the team developed/created to make sure that the Slack App Exchange/Store does not end up looking like a dumping ground for thousands of me-too or barely discernable/usable apps ... ? Cheers ...
April Underwood
April Underwood@aunder · Investor, #Angels
@satpanesar Great question! We're incredibly focused on making sure that our customers have a great experience using Slack, so we review Apps very closely. The main things we're looking for are: does the app work as intended? Is the app description helpful for customers to understand what it's for? And, does it adhere to our API policies to ensure that it's safe and useful to Slack customers. Bottom line - we want to help developers build great products on the Slack Platform so we dedicate time and attention to providing feedback to developers to ensure Apps in our Directory are 💯!
Avery Haskell
Avery Haskell@averyhaskell · Stanford Computer Science
What are the main skills that a VP of Platform must have, and what is your job like day-to-day?
April Underwood
April Underwood@aunder · Investor, #Angels
@averyhaskell the Platform team here at Slack is a cross-functional team comprised of Product Managers who define the roadmap and feature set we make available to developers (and in turn, the customer experiences we enable through Apps), a Partnerships team which works with companies large and small to help them understand why they should build on Slack, and a Developer Relations team which helps developers understand how to work with Slack. I used to be an engineer, have had a number of Product roles and have led teams in BD and Product previously, and it's helpful to me to have had personal experience doing all of the jobs the folks on my team currently do. Platform is different at every company, of course, but here at Slack we're working as one big team to ensure we're all working off of the same priorities and mission.
Dhruv kumar
Dhruv kumar@dhruvakumar · Founder,icliniq.com
Hi @aunder - Its nice to hear about The launch of an $80M developer fund. Can you tell more about the kind of apps you look to fund?
Hi April! Many thanks for doing this. My question is simple but confounds our creative director: why is it called Slack?
April Underwood
April Underwood@aunder · Investor, #Angels
@dan_ej The name Slack was Stewart's idea - he has said that communication is one of the things that causes tension in an organization, and our goal is to relax that. He visualized it as a loose piece of string connecting two tin cans. But we've also figured out a "backronym" to justify it: Searchable Log of All Communication and Knowledge 😊
Ben Myers
Ben Myers@iamhabitat · Product @CAKEWALKHQ & @BeepBoopHQ
Hi @aunder conversational human interaction is a huge part of Slack's platform. Do you think the future will include any enhancements made to the message UI to allow for interactions by clicking or tapping on already posted messages from within Slack, as opposed to just responding?
April Underwood
April Underwood@aunder · Investor, #Angels
@iamhabitat It's an interesting idea and something we've thought about a bit. I do see value in offering developers richer rendering options, and with that could come more options for exposing interactivity. Nothing to share yet, but it's on our minds. 🤖
Ben Myers
Ben Myers@iamhabitat · Product @CAKEWALKHQ & @BeepBoopHQ
@aunder @iamhabitat Cool. Thanks April. Looking forward to working with the platform. ✌️
Jatin
Jatin@antyaliased
Slack vs Twitter - How do the cultures of two differ?
Moss Pike
Moss Pike@mosspike · Technology consultant at KT
@aunder Hi April! Thanks for spending your time with us today! As an educator, I love how Slack has transformed the way I work with teams on small projects (far less email!). I'm wondering to what extent you've seen Slack used in education more broadly and how you think it can improve the overall quality of communication in education, especially in large schools/districts. Do you have any plans to work with educators more directly? Thanks! -Moss Pike
Ouriel Ohayon
Ouriel Ohayon@ourielohayon · KZen, CEO / Co-founder isai (VC)
@aunder Frank, not your family?
April Underwood
April Underwood@aunder · Investor, #Angels
@ourielohayon not as far as I've found thus far. But maybe next season there will be a plot twist!
Ouriel Ohayon
Ouriel Ohayon@ourielohayon · KZen, CEO / Co-founder isai (VC)
@aunder @ourielohayon disappointed :)
Yolanda Enoch
Yolanda Enoch@yolandaenoch · Yolanda Enoch
@aunder Hi April! When Slack was down recently (and your users lost their minds, haha), what was the internal environment at Slack like that day? What did the team learn about handling and communicating crisis?
João Costa
João Costa@jrdbacosta · BD octonius.com
Hey @aunder, What is the pre-requisit or how you will consider candidates for slack fund?
Sehaj Taneja
Sehaj Taneja@imsehajtaneja · CoFounder alume.co
@aunder How much time should one devote in Competition Research while doing Startups ! Also should one fear if the competition is some of the Big Guns of Industry . Also, What's your take 1- Market Research 2- Product Development. Or Vice Versa.
Jevin
Jevin@jevinsidhu
@aunder Have you added any custom emojis? If so, which ones? :) Thanks for spending time answering some questions!
Adam Owen
Adam Owen@adamowenit · Search Engine Marketing Consultant
Hey April! Awesome to see Slack represented on here - last year I hadn't heard of Slack, but now it's a platform I regularly recommend to others. What are your views on self-hosted Slack alternatives? Do you see them as a threat, or are you confident your SaaS style service will continue to stand out (with integrations, SLAs etc.)?
James  Aduke
James Aduke@aduke_james4 · Software developer
@aunder Hi April how does your software engineering team manage their projects from start to finish
Atul Acharya
Atul Acharya@atulacharya · Product Maker. Mobile, AI, Self Driving
@aunder Hi, Thx for the AMA. Great that Slack has launched a Platform for 3rd party apps. What sort of apps would you want to see more of on the platform? Any particular / favorite areas where Devs can focus their ideas? Thx
Sehaj Taneja
Sehaj Taneja@imsehajtaneja · CoFounder alume.co
@aunder How to get an INTERNSHIP / JOb oppurtunity at Slack . What are the skills required for Development Teams.
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
@aunder thanks for being here today! 🙌During your career so far - what has been the best piece of advice you've ever received? Flip side, what's been the worst?
Hugo Fauquenoi
Hugo Fauquenoi@hfauq · growth @todoist and @twistappteam
Hey April! Thanks for joining us. What's the last book you really enjoyed reading?
April Underwood
April Underwood@aunder · Investor, #Angels
@hfauq I absolutely loved The Goldfinch. In addition, a bunch of us have been reading 5 Dysfunctions of a Team as part of the Slack Book Club (because we are always hungry for ways to make ourselves and our teams better) which was a fun read.
Katrina Brinson
Katrina Brinson@katrinabrinson · Marketer
@aunder Which do you think is the future of productivity apps: Native Mobile Apps OR Browser Based Web Apps?
Daniel Zarick
Daniel Zarick@danielzarick · Housecraftapp.com, Shortwave.xyz, & more
@aunder Is the developer fund looking for "big hit" investments (a la traditional venture funds) or is it also open to funding companies with more reasonable growth goals? Also, is the funding focused solely on equity arrangements?
April Underwood
April Underwood@aunder · Investor, #Angels
@danielzarick We'll be making seed-size investments ($100-250K) regularly over the coming years. We do believe we'll see a return on these investments (because we believe in a future of work apps that's dramatically better than today!), but that’s not the purpose -- it’s to kick start the ecosystem and encourage people to develop apps, and create examples that others can improve upon and get the flywheel spinning.
Daniel Zarick
Daniel Zarick@danielzarick · Housecraftapp.com, Shortwave.xyz, & more
@aunder Thanks! Might be responding to our months-old email thread soon.
WODcast
WODcast@wodcast · Co-founder, VP of Product at WODcast
@aunder What's a typical day look like for you as head of Platform at Slack?
Kenneth
Kenneth@kennetht
@aunder Can you post "/giphy guy fieri" (without quotes) on slack's internal general channel and then write the first reaction to it, thanks =^_^=
April Underwood
April Underwood@aunder · Investor, #Angels
@kennetht you first!
Kenneth
Kenneth@kennetht
@aunder @kennetht Our creative director responded with "/giphy flavortown" *A neon pink giphy overlay appears* -a cartoon squid slack profile picture (our CD's nickname is Squid) grins back at the user in a taunting manner by the giphy
Abhishek Chakraborty
Abhishek Chakraborty@coffeeandjunk · UX Designer
@aunder What's the most crucial advice you would give to a first time entrepreneur?
April Underwood
April Underwood@aunder · Investor, #Angels
This was a lot of fun - thanks for having me! Now, back to work! 💪
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
@aunder thanks for answering so many of our questions today! So many cool things happening at @Slackhq right now, we've loved picking your brain for the last hour! 🙏😻✨
Abhishek Chakraborty
Abhishek Chakraborty@coffeeandjunk · UX Designer
@aunder Slack is growing very fast undoubtedly. What is your biggest hurdle inspite of that?
Suchit Puri
Suchit Puri@suchitpuri · Enabling Scale @Wingify
HI April, Glad to see you here, my question is that i have been using slack for some time now, the only think i would want to be improved is that the experience on mobile. The experience on mobile for slack app is very sloppy, you get the messages from and to the mobile after so much lag that it kills the conversation. Are you guys doing anything to improve that ?
小嶋大貴/Daiki Kojima
小嶋大貴/Daiki Kojima@dktky18 · Be My Style(TechMedia) founder
Nice to meet u April, what is the best point in Slack engineering team which is not in other companies. And, I'd like to know the function of Slack users may not acknowledge if u have. Thanks for this opportunity.
Phil Nguyen
Phil Nguyen@p_ngu · The Daily Water Cooler + Vettery
Hey @aunder! What's up with #Angels lately? Can you give us an update on what the team has been doing lately and how, if at all, the mission or strategy has changed? Thanks for taking the time!
April Underwood
April Underwood@aunder · Investor, #Angels
@p_ngu thanks for asking! #Angels is going strong - we've made about one investment per quarter this year and will just be hitting our 1-year anniversary in February. In addition to backing some great companies like Color Genomics, uBeam, and Jewelbots, we've also been starting to build out a network of other women operators who are interested in or currently investing. It's been very rewarding to find that there are lots of other folks interested in investing who value the opportunity to compare notes and support one another. 5 of the 6 of us all continue to hold operating roles so it's a juggling act to grow #Angels while doing our "day jobs" - but a fun one!
Phil Nguyen
Phil Nguyen@p_ngu · The Daily Water Cooler + Vettery
@aunder Nice! Thanks for the update. Looking forward to seeing more great companies your team is supporting.
João Costa
João Costa@jrdbacosta · BD octonius.com
And do you consider having simple games for unbusy hours integrated in slack?
Ranit Sanyal
Ranit Sanyal@ronnhere · Co-founder @ RedElegant Design Studio
Hello ApriI, I read that for Slack, after exchanging 2,000 messages, 93% of those customers are using Slack. Can you share with us how to track and understand those Magic number to understand retention of users in case of any product?
Sophia
Sophia@splee9
@aunder hi april, what tools/process do you use to test new designs at slack?
April Underwood
April Underwood@aunder · Investor, #Angels
@splee9 I know a lot of folks here have been trying out Zeplin, and InVision is one of the more popular design tools integrated with Slack using the Add to Slack Button.
Hugo Fauquenoi
Hugo Fauquenoi@hfauq · growth @todoist and @twistappteam
Thanks for sharing! Any ways we can find what the Slack team is reading :)?
Hugo Fauquenoi
Hugo Fauquenoi@hfauq · growth @todoist and @twistappteam
As a team, what tools do you use to keep up with collaboration? For communication, I would guess Slack, what about for project/task management?
April Underwood
April Underwood@aunder · Investor, #Angels
@hfauq there are a lot of great new tools out there and we are always hungry to try new ones (particularly those which are integrated with Slack!). Many of our teams use Trello.
Drew Greenfeld
Drew Greenfeld@drewaustin · CEO of Wade & Wendy
Hey April, curious about the API rate limits, now that you guys are pushing the platform and focusing on the developer community, are you going to increase that? What else do you see in the upcoming roadmap to make it easier for developers and companies to build exciting things using Slack.