Based on what's written in a pair of reports stating Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) is exploring a purchase of collaboration app upstart Slack, it's hardly a given at this point that a deal will happen. Details are limited, the buyout overtures appear to coincide with new attempts by Slack to raise funding and Amazon is simply said to be one of multiple tech companies to have recently inquired about a purchase.
But whether or not a sale goes down, the reports do suggest that Amazon is serious about making Amazon Web Services (AWS) a major enterprise cloud app (SaaS) provider, on top of everything else it already is. It might also suggest that a sky-high stock price has made Jeff Bezos & Co., hesitant to date to make large acquisitions, more open to inking large deals.
Bloomberg reported overnight that Slack has drawn interest from multiple tech companies, and could be "valued at at least $9 billion in a sale." Re/code followed up with a report stating Slack is looking to raise $500 million at a $5 billion valuation, up from the $3.8 billion valuation it received in a 2016 funding round. However, it added Slack has simultaneously attracted buyout interest from Amazon, Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) , Alphabet Inc./Google (GOOGL) and Salesforce.com Inc. (CRM) .
One caveat: It's possible that both Bloomberg and Re/code's sources are close to Slack, and want to see a bidding war break out. It certainly wouldn't be the first time that a source claiming there's intense buyout interest in a company had such a motivation.
The reported interest from Microsoft and Google is a little curious, since both have launched Slack rivals. Bloomberg's report notes that that Microsoft once explored buying Slack before ultimately choosing to create its competing Teams app. That fits with a 2016 TechCrunch report stating Microsoft considered offering as much as $8 billion for Slack, but that Bill Gates and CEO Satya Nadella weren't sold on the idea.
Why is Slack such a big deal? To a large degree, its chat threads and team "channels" have become an e-mail substitute for workers looking to quickly exchange messages and share files, at those enterprises that have adopted them. Slack's platform also features quality mobile apps, supports voice and video calls and is now backed by a large ecosystem of third-party developers that have created business apps and messaging chatbots that work within Slack.
Slack has also invested in using AI to do things like highlight important messages and showcase the most important chat threads and channels within search results. And in January, the company launched Enterprise Grid, a version of its core product meant for large businesses -- among other things, it has more advanced analytics, management and security tools.