The co-founder and CEO of the rapidly growing workplace messaging platform Slack has said Brexit has made the company “doubly happy” it has chosen Dublin for its European headquarters.
Speaking as the firm officially opened its new offices here, Stewart Butterfield claimed Brexit probably will not be a big concern for the company, as it has not got a significant presence in the UK yet.
He said Slack will be opening a larger London sales office in the future, but right now the team is quite small there.
Mr Butterfield said Brexit was a "little bit sad to see", but added the decision by Britain to leave the European Union meant Slack was now “doubly happy” it chose Dublin.
A hotly tipped star of the international tech start-up scene, Slack currently employs 50 people here, and hopes to add another 100 this year.
Its new office space at One Park Place in Dublin has room for 180 staff and the company intends to fill it.
Functions run from Dublin include technical and business operations, as well as customer services and sales for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
"One of the reasons we are here is because it’s a great place to be for language coverage and just familiarity with the market"
The UK, Germany and France are the company's big markets in Europe.
"One of the reasons we are here is because it’s a great place to be for language coverage and just familiarity with the market," the Slack CEO said.
"We're riding on the backs of people who have been here before us and have built a fairly varied workforce."
The company has also hired Johann Butting from Dropbox (which is in the same building as Slack in Dublin) to head up its sales team.
Mr Butterfield said finding talent had gone fairly well in Dublin, although it is still a relatively competitive market, like the other places where it operates.
Because there is an ecosystem and network of companies, he added, every time Slack makes a hire here it gets a good set of recommendations from the person about other people they have worked with.
The Slack CEO said the slick new wood-filled Dublin office is the company's nicest of the seven locations around the world it operates from.
Asked whether it has plans to expand its presence in the capital further, Mr Butterfield said there are other options nearby for expansion space but nothing is fixed.
"Tripling the size of the workforce is a big step and we'll see when we get there how much more we want to expand"
"Tripling the size of the workforce is a big step and we'll see when we get there how much more we want to expand in the short term," he said.
The business intends to open other smaller local sales offices in Europe in the coming years, with all that co-ordinated from Dublin.
There is currently a small engineering group for technical operations in Dublin and Slack said it was thinking of opening other engineering offices.
Valued at $3.8 billion (€3.56 billion), Slack currently has four million daily active users – with over a million of them paying for the service – as well as 750 employees.
This year the emphasis is on expanding the range of businesses that Slack is an applicable solution for, the organisation's co-founder said.
International localisation is one part of that, with the official launch of enterprise product being another.
42% of the company's revenue comes from outside North America, with 30% of its daily active users in Europe, and 20% in Asia.
That is expected to grow significantly this year, as Slack is launched in Japanese, French, German, and Spanish.
Mr Butterfield does not see the arrival of Microsoft Teams as a threat for now.
This is because he believes there is a lot of pressure on Microsoft to grow revenue and earnings, and with a company the size of Microsoft it is hard to get percentage growth.
As a result, Mr Butterfield thinks Microsoft tries to up sell existing customers, putting more items in the higher priced bundles.
"So that's where Teams is right now, it's in the higher tiered bundles of Office 365 for Business and for Enterprise, and as long as that happens it’s only available to a small minority of businesses in the world," he said.
"The remainder are left open for us."
"The plus side of that is there is a lot of choice, and the negative side of that is that there is a lot of choice"
He also thinks Microsoft has not yet made difficult choices about products.
As a result, if you are in that high-end bundle, you get not only Microsoft Teams, but also Sharepoint and Yammer and Skype for Business, Outlook and more.
"The plus side of that is there is a lot of choice, and the negative side of that is that there is a lot of choice and that's a difficult thing to put someone in a position."
Slack has set up an investment fund to encourage people to develop for the platform, and support small businesses.
It recently invested in a number of start-ups focusing on bots. So does Mr Butterfield think bots are the next big thing in messaging?
It is hard to tell how bots will fit in, he said.
It is definitely an era where something has changed, and long-term he said he was a believer.
But in the short-term, Mr Butterfield thinks we will see a lot of experimentation, some of which works and some that does not.
On the ongoing question of if and when the company will float on the stock market, Mr Butterfield said they are only closer to an IPO in the sense that time has continued to elapse, but not in terms of a definitive date.
He said the firm tries to run the operation in such a way that it could go public whenever it wanted to, but that is more about discipline.
The key ingredient that is missing right now is predictability, Mr Butterfield said, and that is a good thing he claimed, because the reason it is missing is that the business is growing so quickly.
Also, some of the things happening this year are expected to have a big impact on the businesses growth, which pushes out the date at which an IPO would make sense, he added.
Slack was fortunate to launch and come to prominence when the capital markets were friendly to companies like it, Mr Butterfield claimed, so capital has been cheap and as a result there is no need to go public from that point either.
Mr Butterfield said the company will see what happens over the next year, as there is a lot of uncertainty in the world political situation and markets more generally.