Slack sets aside $80 million to help developers extend its platform

A new app directory will help users find integrations

If there's any company that's been virtually synonymous with growth over the past year or so, it's Slack, and now the team-software vendor is taking a big step to make sure that momentum continues.

The company has established an $80 million fund to provide early-stage investments to companies building for the Slack platform, with a particular focus on apps that are designed to be “Slack-first” as well as enterprise tools that are making Slack integration a core part of their offering.

"We’re deeply committed to supporting a diverse and valuable ecosystem of third-party apps and making them easy to discover," said April Underwood, Slack's head of platform.

Toward that second goal, Slack also debuted a new App Directory listing approved integrations. There are 150 apps available in the directory today -- including offerings from services such as Dropbox and Twitter -- and as new ones emerge, they'll be visible there as well.

Also on Tuesday Slack introduced platform updates including Botkit -- an open source framework for building bots and other Slack integrations -- as well as several API updates and an AWS Lambda blueprint integration.

Not long after Slack joined the widely hyped "unicorn club" last year, its valuation rose to $2.8 billion. The company now boasts 2 million daily active users of its team-communication software, including 570,000 paid seats -- up significantly just since August, when the numbers were 1.1 million and 300,000, respectively.

The company's API ecosystem is a widely considered a core part of its increasing popularity.

Launched in 2014, Slack's enterprise software as a service (SaaS) offers real-time messaging, archiving and search. There’s a free "lite" version of its software as well as a fully featured version starting at $6.67 per user per month. An enterprise plan is expected early next year with features such as federation across multiple teams with a unified team directory and unified security, data retention and compliance policies.

The new fund is backed by Slack in partnership with Accel; Andreessen Horowitz; Index Ventures; Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers; Spark Growth; and Social Capital.

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