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Cal Henderson never envisioned being in the position he’s in now: cofounder and chief technology officer of one of the most in-demand workplace apps around — Slack, which reported revenues of $630 million in 2020 and was recently acquired by Salesforce for an impressive $27.7 billion. What he helped start in 2009 (then incorporated as Tiny Speck, Inc.) with a team of eight has grown to more than 2,500 employees, with over 142,000 paid customers using the platform.
Initially, Henderson told Insider, he just wanted to make video games. A British expat who’s lived in the United States for over 15 years, Henderson started this venture in the early 2000s alongside Slack cofounders Stewart Butterfield (now CEO), Eric Costello, and Serguei Mourachov. Their video game efforts eventually evolved into the creation of photo-hosting platform Flickr, which Henderson built the design and infrastructure for. In 2005, Flickr sold to Yahoo for a reported over $20 million.
Henderson then moved from Vancouver to San Francisco, and after a few years the foursome of Henderson, Butterfield, Costello, and Mourachov tried again to make games. It was another miss.
“In both cases of Slack and Flickr, we started companies to do something totally different,” Henderson told Insider. “And I didn’t foresee being a leader of a company at the scale we’re at today, either. I always thought I’d be creating software for someone else.”
As CTO, Henderson said his day is very much oriented around Slack’s platform — the company is in some ways the biggest customer of itself. Still, he’s aware of the need to disconnect from it, and said he’s generally not reachable outside of work hours.
“I have my ‘do not disturb’ sign on, especially when I’m with my kids,” he said, adding that he believes the “always on” attitude is more about corporate culture, less about tools like Slack.
What’s missing in today’s remote work
Slack’s relevance has only grown as a result of the pandemic, with the company adding 12,000 net new paid customers in the fiscal quarter ending October 31, 2020, up 140% year over year. For many, like Henderson, it’s become the only real-time connection to colleagues.
“In many ways, the pandemic accelerated changes that were already happening,” he said. “And why work in the future is going to be so different is because now people understand it’s possible to work in a distributed manner and still be productive. Now that we’ve seen it’s possible, you really can’t put the genie back in the bottle.”
Henderson initially thought working remotely wouldn’t provide the same productivity seen at over a dozen of Slack’s global offices. But when the company, like others, had to switch to being remote overnight, he said his skepticism was tested.
It’s an “extreme situation,” he added. “People are not working from home in the normal sense, it’s during a global pandemic, so they can’t see family or friends, they can’t get out of the house, they can’t meet up with people for a meeting — it’s the worst possible …read more
Source:: Business Insider