If you came by the Vox office, you would find it oddly quiet. That’s not because we don’t like each other, or because we’re not social, or because we don’t have anything to say. It’s because almost all our communication happens silently, digitally, in Slack.
Slack is Stewart Butterfield’s creation, and it’s the fastest-growing piece on enterprise software in history. But here’s the kicker: he didn’t mean to create it, just like he didn’t mean to create Flickr before it. In both cases, Butterfield was trying to create a new kind of game: immersive, endless, and focused on experiences rather than victories.
The story of Butterfield’s pivots from the game to Flickr and Slack have become Silicon Valley lore. But in this conversation, we go deep into the part that’s always fascinated me: the game Butterfield wanted to create, the reasons he thinks gaming is so important, and the ways in which his philosophy background informs his current work. We also talk a lot about the nature of status, identity, and communication in online spaces, as Butterfield’s company is now revolutionizing all three.
This is a deep, interesting, and unusual conversation — we went places I didn’t expect, and I left thinking about topics I’d never really considered. Butterfield is as thoughtful as they come, and I hope you get as much out of this as I did.