Meta will shut down its Teams competitor Workplace next year

Love or hate Meta, Workplace was a totally different take on internal comms, and for that the team behind it can be justifiably proud of their work.

Meta will shut down its Teams competitor Workplace next year
Meta will shut down its Teams competitor Workplace next year
Unless you work at Meta.

Quentyn Kennemer, writing for The Verge -

Meta is throwing in the towel on Workplace, its Facebook-based alternative to office communication platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams alternative, as reported earlier by TechCrunch.

Perhaps a surprising take for a former Slack employee, but I actually really liked Workplace. The problem for Workspace was that it had some critical flaws that were baked in from the start.

Ads are Meta's bread and butter

The simple fact is that Meta is an ads business. It's very much a product focused company, with Mark Zuckerberg famously declaring "we don’t build services to make money; we make money to build better services.", but at the end of the day, Ads are what pays the bill, and any product at Meta that tries to compete with that in terms of revenue will literally always be a side quest, constantly having to battle the question of "but why should we invest in it?".

I doubt Workplace ever became profitable, but even if it had, it would have been a rounding error on the Meta balance sheet.

Workplace was built for Facebook's style of internal comms

Meta (neé Facebook) has a very open style of communication internally, with executives regularly interacting with employees at all levels, and Workplace was engineered with that in mind. I assume the idea behind Workplace as a product was that it would engender that style of communication, like a tail wagging a dog, but having seen the Slack teams trying to drive a particular style of communication at customers, more often then not, large buyers expect tools to flex to their needs, not the other way around.

I don't know that I've ever met a really strong advocate for Workplace who wasn't also a former Meta/Facebook employee, and that's because we saw what a powerful tool it was when used "right", without stopping to consider that what was right for us wasn't always right for others.

Slack employees also have this problem, but Slack the product is far more flexible in how you use it, so even when used "wrong", it still works really well.

There's still real space for innovation in workplace comms

As I said at the start, I was (and still am) a real fan of Workplace, and I lament it's demise, if only because the market really lacks a player doing anything interesting. Slack has been swallowed by the Salesforce machine, and I doubt we'll see anything significantly innovative from it ever again. Teams is just skype with some stuff bolted on.

I hope beyond hope that some startup shakes the place up like Slack did in the late 2010s, but with two pretty entrenched options with sizeable war chests, I don't know that I'll ever see that hope fulfilled.