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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Salesforce’s acquisition of work chat company Slack for $28 billion to better compete with Microsoft underscores just how hard it is for tech companies big and small to challenge today's dominant tech giants.

Flashback: Less than a year ago, Justice Dept. assistant attorney general for antitrust Makan Delrahim touted Slack’s trajectory from small VC-backed startup to publicly-traded software company as an illustration of a healthy, well-functioning market in which it's possible for newcomers to prosper independently. 

  • “Slack’s ability to IPO and provide an independent source of competition to other technology platforms is an example of a venture capital system working to create a healthy economy,” Delrahim said during a DoJ workshop at Stanford University focused on venture capital and antitrust. 

Yes, but: Slack's decision to sell to Salesforce came as the upstart business-messaging provider faced an uphill battle against Microsoft, which has built up its Teams product and bundled it with its other business offerings.

The other side: Another way to view the Salesforce/Slack combination is to see it as an example of companies using mergers and acquisitions to create competition rather than to squelch it. A smart deal can find a combination that challenges powerful rivals.

Of course, that depends on how well the combination is executed.

  • In 2012, Microsoft acquired a Slack predecessor named Yammer. 
  • Though Yammer initially fared well, Slack eclipsed it in the marketplace.
  • By the time Microsoft set out to challenge Slack, it decided to build a new product rather than promote Yammer (or, for that matter, Skype, another previous Microsoft acquisition that also has a messaging function).

Go deeper: VCs push back on DOJ antitrust concerns

Go deeper

Frenetic tech giants' next trick: Learn patience and play a long game

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

In 2021, tech, an industry built on speedy change, is going to have to learn to wait.

The big picture: Every crisis tech faces — from the onslaught of antitrust litigation to the massive SolarWinds cyberattack to the pandemic's toll on health and the economy — has unfolded in slow motion and will take at least as long to resolve.

Updated 29 mins ago - Sports

Olympics dashboard

Katie Ledecky in Tokyo. Photo: Ding Xu/Xinhua via Getty Images

🛑: Simone Biles won't compete in individual vault or uneven bars

🏊‍♀️: Katie Ledecky wins gold in women's 800m freestyle

🏊: Caeleb Dressel breaks world record in men's 100m butterfly, 3rd gold

🗓: The Olympic events to watch today

🇬🇧: Britain wins gold in first-ever Olympic mixed 4x100m medley relay

🎾: Novak Djokovic defeated in Olympic semi-finals

💻: Japan tests teleporting games and "remote cheering"

Go deeper: Full Axios coverage

Updated 2 hours ago - Sports

Simone Biles won't compete in individual vault or uneven bars Olympic finals

Photo: Loic Venance/AFP via Getty Images

Simone Biles will not compete in the individual vault or uneven bars finals at the Tokyo Olympics, USA Gymnastics announced Friday.

Why it matters: USA Gymnastics said Biles, who previously withdrew from the individual all-around and team finals to prioritize her mental health, will continue to be evaluated to determine if she'll compete in the balance beam or floor exercise events.