Quill, the messaging app backed by Index, quietly comes out of stealth to tackle Slack

Slack took the office communications panorama by storm after it launched its integration-friendly, GIF-tastic chat platform in 2013. Inside the house of a decade it entered into the pantheon of huge tech: first with massive growth and usage, then a sequence of giant VC rounds and valuations, spawning controversial competitors from incumbents, adopted by a public listing and in the end a $27.7 billion acquisition by Salesforce. Now that the cycle is full, the decks are clear for a Slack disruptor!

As we speak, a brand new app quietly launched out of stealth known as Quill, accessible by the use of apps for the net, MacOS, Home 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.

In contrast to Slack — the implication appears to be — the distinction is that Quill is about delivering messaging in a non-distracting approach that doesn’t take up an excessive amount of of your time, your focus, and your power. Quill payments itself as “messaging for those who focus.”

So when you get a number of the identical options you will have in Slack for chatting with employees, creating channels, integrating different apps, and having video and voice conversations — one in all my colleagues quipped, “It seems like Slack, however extra colourful!” — it additionally features a bunch of options that put the give attention to, nicely, focus.

“We grew exhausted having to skim hundreds of messages daily to maintain up, so we constructed a technique to chat that’s even higher than how we already talk in individual,” Quill notes on its web site. “A extra deliberate technique to chat. That’s what Quill is all about.”

For instance, “structured channels” allow you to implement threads in a channel for various conversations reasonably than view chatter in a waterfall. Computerized sorting within the app strikes up energetic conversations you’re in above others. Limitations on notifications imply you possibly can have extra nuance in what in the end may find yourself distracting you, and senders for instance can alter a setting (with a !!) to inform you if one thing is essential and must ping you. Video chats come mechanically with a sidebar to proceed texting, too.

Then, you get separate channels for social and non-work chat; and a sequence of options that allow you to manipulate conversations after they’ve already began: you possibly can recast conversations into threads after they’ve already began and you’ve got a quick technique to reply to messages. There’s a better and extra apparent technique to pin vital issues to the tops of channels; and along with creating new threads after a dialog begins, it’s also possible to transfer messages from one channel or thread to a different.

It’s also possible to work together with Quill chats utilizing SMS and e mail, and like Slack, it presents the power to combine different app notifications into the method.

It’s additionally engaged on including a Clubhouse-like characteristic for voice channels, end-to-end encryption, context-based search (it already has key phrase search), and consumer profiles.

Managing “excessive load”

The app has been in stealth mode for practically three years, and whereas some tasks may by no means go observed in that point, this one is slightly completely different due to the pedigree and the context.

For starters, Quill was based by the previous inventive director of Stripe, Ludwig Pettersson, who was given a number 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 trouble may get at the very least slightly consideration. In a panorama that gave the impression to be all however dominated by Slack and some large, well-funded rivals within the type of Microsoft and Fb, it’s notable that when Quill was simply an thought, it had already picked up $2 million in seed funding, from Sam Altman (on the time the pinnacle of Y Combinator) and Common Catalyst.

Following that it raised a Collection A of $12.5 million led by Sarah Cannon of Index Ventures, totaling some $14.5 million in funding in all. The Collection A valued the corporate 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 crew 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 just 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 thousands and thousands of customers. However there was additionally a rising variety of individuals criticizing it for being the alternative of productive. “It’s onerous to trace all the things that’s happening in Slack, it may be distracting. Given the community impact, Slack has change into highly effective, but it surely 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 received wind of it.

He stated he was “tremendous 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 recommended constructing “a greater model of Slack,” it appeared like a “credible thought” and one price backing even with no product but to be constructed.

It’s fairly becoming that for an app targeted on focus, Quill launched at this time quietly and with out a lot fanfare: why fear about PR distraction when you possibly can simply get one thing on the market?

In any case, we’re hoping to listen to extra and see what sort of momentum it picks up. We’ve requested Index if we are able to speak to Sarah Cannon concerning the funding, and we’re nonetheless ready to listen to again. We’re additionally attempting to see if we are able to speak to Pettersson. However I ought to point out now we have been attempting 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).

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