Salesforce Acquires Troops | But Why?

After acquiring Slack to the tune of $27B+ in late 2020, it's a slightly surprising move to see Salesforce spend anything on a third-party application that simply connects Salesforce to Slack.

Updated
May 23, 2022

In December 2020, Salesforce spent a whopping $27.7B to acquire Slack - for many, many reasons Salesforce's acquisition of Slack had a ton of strategic value and remains a key piece of their product roadmap. However, to see Salesforce spending any amount of money acquiring Troops - a 50-person Slack-based startup building an integration layer between Salesforce and Slack - is slightly puzzling.

Regardless, it seems that Troops will play a role in the future of Salesforce's Digital HQ.

The Roadmap for Salesforce Digital HQ

As with many of the Salesforce core product offerings, they are often cobbled together as a result of various acquisitions.

It took many years of acquiring companies to finally produce Salesforce Marketing Cloud - a combination of Buddy Media, Radian6, ExactTarget, Pardot, and several other standalone companies that Salesforce has picked up along the way.

The newest term Salesforce is using to describe Slack's role in their core offering is "Digital HQ". It seems that Slack will serve as the foundation for all collaboration features that exist within Salesforce - these are the tools that enable cross-functional communication and sharing of data within a company using Salesforce, so that users in Sales can easily collaborate with users in Marketing or Finance. Previously, Salesforce relied in the limited features available from Chatter but Digital HQ takes this to the next level.

It seems there will be several components of Salesforce Digital HQ.

Quip is now Salesforce Anywhere

We haven't heard much about Salesforce Anywhere, other than the fact that it came from the acquisition of Quip (2016, $750m), whose founder, Bret Taylor, is now Co-CEO of Salesforce alongside Benioff.

Salesforce Anywhere was launched in July 2020 and offered a variety of really solid features, including: Salesforce Help Desk Integration, Real-Time Alerts, Team Collaboration, Embed Records in Activity Chats and more.

It seemed that Salesforce Anywhere would be the primary collaboration tools to rival Microsoft Teams, the biggest Slack competitor in the market. But a mere 6 months after re-launching Quip as Salesforce Anywhere, the Slack acquisition was announced.

Slack is core to Digital HQ

Obviously, Slack is the central piece to Digital HQ. Not only does Slack offer the core chat interface and direct communication features that Salesforce needs to drive in-app collaboration, they have an incredible Developer and App ecosystem.

The Slack Directory has over 2,400 apps available along with a number of no-code automation solutions to build triggers between applications.

In August 2021, Salesforce announced tighter integrations between Slack and Sales Cloud, Marketing Cloud, Service Cloud, and Tableau. At their Trailblazer DX conference in April, 2022 Salesforce took it a step further and rolled out an extensive set of low-code Developer tools intended to bring Slack and Salesforce even closer. Branded the "Salesforce Flow in Slack toolkit", Developers can build Slack automations while re-using multi-step workflows in Salesforce that have been deployed using Screen Flows. As part of this release, Salesforce also introduced the Apex SDK for Slack, enabling Developers to use Salesforce's proprietary programming language, Apex, to fetch customer records and create reusable views utilizing the Slack UI framework.

The role of Troops is TBD

Given the capabilities that already exist natively within Slack and the tighter integration being built between Salesforce and Slack via new SDKs, it's a complete mystery as to what role Troops will play in the Salesforce product roadmap.

The set of features available in Troops seem rudimentary compared to what is being deployed with Salesforce and Slack - the one exception being Slack's "Grid" product, which is a web-based inline editor that allows users to enter data and update records with a simplified view. It is very similar to the type of product companies like Scratchpad are building, effectively as an alternative to the Salesforce UI given it's design and speed are a constant point of frustration among Sales users.

Regardless, nothing about the Troops product seemed sophisticated enough to warrant a significant price tag but perhaps the company was struggling because of the Slack Salesforce acquisition and this was an easy way to give select employees a soft landing.

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