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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Slack is earmarking $50 million from its balance sheet to launch a new venture capital fund aimed at broadening Slack-backed investments beyond its own platform.

Why it matters: This is Slack's first solo turn at the VC game after a $25 million fund in collaboration with several of its own investors. With the pandemic confining many workers away from in-person interactions, countless companies are having to navigate a new way to operate—and new workplace apps are in the spotlight like never before.

Driving the news: The fund will focus broadly on promising work-related tools and companies, whether or not they're built to work with Slack, Jason Spinell, who heads Slack's venture arm, tells Axios.

  • That's a departure from the earlier venture fund, which Spinell said focused solely on "kickstarting the developer ecosystem on Slack." That fund, announced in 2015, initially got $80 million in commitments but was later scaled back to $25 million to better fit the size and cadence of investments, according to a Slack spokesperson.

Between the lines: Workplace chat apps have become the central hub of employees’ day-to-day communication and tasks as much work has shifted online during the pandemic.

  • So while there’s no requirement that startups even integrate with Slack, a growing number of them are already integrating with various chat apps to distribute information to clients’ employees. The new fund will help Slack forge ties with just such firms.

Yes, but: Investors and companies have to be mindful of whether workplace tools are fostering or reinforcing healthy habits and cultures, says Spinell, though he acknowledges that's not something his team explicitly considers when weighing investing decisions.

Of note: While Slack recently announced it's selling to Salesforce, its venture arm will continue to operate unchanged.

1 2020 thing: "This has been the busiest year that we’ve had," says Spinell of the investments Slack has already made. "We made 15 net new investments this year and we’ve made more follow-on investments."

Go deeper

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
Dec 16, 2020 - Economy & Business

A year of monumental change in the workplace

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

In less than a year, the pandemic shot us more than a decade ahead in the workplace transformation.

The big picture: The pandemic's acceleration of telecommuting has changed much more than the way we attend meetings. We'll see lasting impacts on company culture, the job market, demographics and cities.

6th victim dies following South Carolina shooting

Jack Logan, founder of Put Down the Guns Young People, places stuffed animals and flowers outside of Riverview Family Medicine and Urgent Care on Friday after the fatal shooting in Rock Hill, South Carolina, a day earlier. Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images

The only survivor of this week's mass shooting in South Carolina by former NFL player Phillip Adams has died of his injuries, authorities said Saturday.

Details: Robert Shook, 38, an air conditioning technician from Cherryville, North Carolina, died of gunshot wounds from Wednesday's shooting at a doctor's home in Rock Hill, S.C., which claimed the lives of five other victims.

2 hours ago - World

In photos: Egypt unveils 3,000-year-old "lost golden city"

A view on Saturday of the city, dubbed "The Rise of Aten," dating to the reign of Amenhotep III, uncovered near Luxor. Photo: Khaled Desouki/AFP via Getty Images

A top Egyptian archaeologist on Saturday outlined details of a newly rediscovered "lost golden city" near Luxor that dates back more than 3,000 years.

Why it matters: Zahi Hawass told NBC News the large ancient city, unveiled Thursday, tells archaeologists for the first time "about the life of the people during the Golden Age." Johns Hopkins University Egyptology professor Betsy Brian said in a statement it's "the second most important archeological discovery since the tomb of Tutankhamen."