Facebook may be devouring the web, but Slack is increasingly nibbling on a significant portion of it.
The group-chat platform announced on Tuesday that it’s partnering with 12 companies to introduce what it calls “message buttons.” The idea is that key functions from outside apps—like using Kayak to search for a flight, or using Greenhouse to approve a document—can be accomplished from within Slack, with the click of a button. “The first dozen apps have already added Message Buttons, and with over 500 apps now available in the Slack App Directory, more interactive integrations are to come,” Slack wrote in a blog post explaining the new feature. (You can watch a demo video on YouTube.)
This may not sound surprising. After all, Slack has always found useful ways to integrate third-party apps within its service—or, in Slack’s parlance, to reduce the “context switching” that eats away at productivity. But the move also reveals quite a bit about Slack’s larger ambitions, and may hint at the larger direction of the social web.
The main point is, Slack doesn’t want you to have to log off—ever. This is a familiar mentality online these days.
The huge tech companies that build closed systems are increasingly designing them so that people will want to stay within those structures. This makes sense: Why risk losing the attention that generates revenue if you don’t have to? Facebook is probably the best known purveyor of this strategy, and it has reaped huge rewards along the way. Facebook alone slurps up 30 percent of total display-ad revenue on the web—totaling $8 billion last year—according to a new report by the Pew Research Center.