Photo: Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Pandemic-induced telecommuting is spotlighting a new war in business: the fight to dominate work-from-home technologies.

The big picture: For many firms, virtual meeting and chatting software went from nice-to-haves to must-haves as they rushed to replicate the communication and collaboration that happens in person at the office.

  • It's a market worth billions, and two front-runners — Slack and Microsoft Teams — have emerged.

The state of play: Both have exploded in use and popularity during the pandemic, as they offer the ability to put the office online.

  • In a recent earnings call, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said the number of daily active Teams users has skyrocketed to 75 million, from 44 million in March.
  • Slack's latest number is 12 million daily active users, which it reported in October. It's likely much, much higher now.
  • Back in March, just a few days after coronavirus lockdowns began, Slack said active usage minutes per user had spiked 35%.

Startups seem to love Slack — nearly 60% of them pay for it, per Recode.

  • But Teams dominates among bigger companies, perhaps because it's free to tack on if you've got a Microsoft 365 subscription, and it integrates seamlessly with Outlook and any other Microsoft products, notes Ben Thompson in his excellent newsletter, Stratechery.

The bottom line, per Thompson:

  • "This is what Slack — and Silicon Valley, generally — failed to understand about Microsoft’s competitive advantage: The company doesn’t win just because it bundles, or because it has a superior ground game."
  • "By virtue of doing everything, even if mediocrely, the company is providing a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts, particularly for the non-tech workers that are in fact most of the market."

Go deeper

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Axios-Ipsos poll: Fear of voting

Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Note: ±3.0% margin of error for the total sample; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Democrats are twice as likely as Republicans to worry about in-person voting — with nearly two in three seeing it as a large or moderate risk to their health — according to this week's installment of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: This could pose a significant disadvantage for Joe Biden and other Democratic candidates in November if the pattern holds — especially in states where high infection rates persist, or where there are significant hurdles to mail-in, absentee or early voting.

Trump: Coronavirus is "under control"

President Trump said in an interview with “Axios on HBO” that he thinks the coronavirus is as well-controlled in the U.S. as it can be, despite dramatic surges in new infections over the course of the summer and more than 150,000 American deaths.

  • “They are dying, that's true. And you have — it is what it is. But that doesn't mean we aren't doing everything we can. It's under control as much as you can control it. This is a horrible plague,” he told Axios' Jonathan Swan.
Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5 a.m. ET: 18,295,434 — Total deaths: 694,233 — Total recoveries — 10,926,704Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 5 a.m. ET: 4,717,716 — Total deaths: 155,471 — Total recoveries: 1,513,446 — Total tests: 57,543,852Map.
  3. Education — Fauci: Schools can reopen with safeguards, but those in virus hot spots should remain closed
  4. Politics: White House will require staff to undergo randomized testing — Pelosi says Birx "enabled" Trump on misinformation.
  5. Sports: 13 members of St. Louis Cardinals test positive, prompting MLB to cancel Tigers series — Former FDA chief says MLB outbreaks should be warning sign.
  6. 1 🎥 thing: "Tenet" may be the first major film to get a global pandemic release.