Stewart Butterfield, CEO of popular messaging platform Slack – a product he co-founded in 2013 but has exploded in use during the pandemic, defining a new way for many to communicate amid the shift to remote working – plans to step down as CEO, leaving Salesforce, the software giant that acquired Slack last year.
The news, first reported by Insider, comes just days after Salesforce announced co-CEO Bret Taylor would step down from that joint leadership role in January, making Salesforce co-founder and co-CEO Marc Benioff again. both chairman and sole CEO.
In an internal Slack announcement, Butterfield said the two moves were unrelated, according to Insider. “FWIW: This has nothing to do with Bret leaving. The schedule has been in preparation for several months! Just weird timing.
A company spokesperson did not confirm the content of the internal message or Butterfield’s departure time, but shared a statement via email. “Stewart is an incredible leader who has built an incredible and beloved business in Slack. He helped lead the successful integration of Slack into Salesforce and today Slack is integrated into the Salesforce Customer 360 Platform,” the statement reads, noting that Butterfield was “instrumental in choosing Lidiane Jones as Slack’s next CEO to lead it into its next chapter.”
Jones, executive vice president of the Experience Cloud, Commerce Cloud and Marketing Cloud units, has been with Salesforce since 2019 and previously worked for Sonos and Microsoft.
In an interview with Forbes on Oct. 20, Butterfield didn’t hint at an upcoming departure, but talked about the integration with Salesforce and his own vision for Slack’s future.
Asked about the biggest integration challenge, he noted the departures of members of Slack’s leadership team when the two companies merged.
“I think I didn’t really realize how addicted I was, especially on the [general counsel] and the chief financial officer. They were more than support for the organization,” he told Forbes. “They were good partners in thinking about strategy and culture and all that. So it was more difficult than I would have thought, in retrospect.
In the internal message posted by Insider, Butterfield shared that product manager Tamar Yehoshua and Jonathan Prince, Slack’s senior vice president of marketing, brand and communications, was also leaving the company and gave the following explanation on “why” he was resigning. “Although it may seem [sic] overused, I’m actually going to spend more time with my family. We have a new baby coming in January. Can I tell you something? I fantasize about gardening. So I will work on personal projects, focus on health and try to learn as many new things as possible.