CEO says Slack is growing up, but maybe not going public - Axios
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CEO says Slack is growing up, but maybe not going public

Slack just added Square CFO Sarah Friar as the company's first independent board member. So, is the company readying an IPO?

"No," Butterfield told Axios. "I've said publicly before that we are trying to run the company so that we're ready to go public, not because we are going to necessarily."

Rather, Butterfield characterizes the addition as "part of growing up." an effort that will also see the company invest this year to translate the service into more languages and be more useful to the largest of businesses.

For more on Butterfield's plans for Slack, (and why he won't be buying back Flickr) read on. Click here for his thoughts on Donald Trump (and he has many).

You just added Square CFO Sarah Friar to the board as first independent director? How does this reflect where Slack is as a company?

It's part of growing up. There's definitely an early stage for tech companies where you can get all of the shareholders in a room. As you get larger, there's not only more shareholders but more stakeholders. Governance of the business becomes more complicated, naturally. We're at the point where we measure revenue in the hundreds of millions, we have tens of thousands of customers around the world.
Sarah has just a fantastic set of experiences for us at this stage - a buy-side analyst and researcher for a long time, SVP at Salesforce and CFO at Square and a real deep strategic thinker. She's been using Slack at Square for many, many years.

Does it say anything about IPO plans?

No. I've said publicly before that we are trying to run the company so that we're ready to go public, not because we are going to necessarily. But because there is a lot of good discipline there, a lot of building of internal controls and a method of governing the business that is important.

Microsoft released Teams last week, and Google is reconfiguring Hangouts to be more of a player. Do you see those two companies becoming tougher competitors than they have been?

Certainly than they have been, because they are more or less new entrants. They are each a little bit different. We are working pretty closely with Google on the partnership side and deeper and deeper integrations. I think there's a relationship there that works even if we are competing on some fronts. We had Diane Greene on stage for (a) launch event just a couple months ago.
There's two senses in which we think about it. One is me as a fiduciary to the company to take the competition seriously and the other is me as someone who really enjoys making software. It's exciting and exhilarating for the same reason it's more fun to play basketball against an opponent than to shoot hoops against yourself. I think we're really well positioned in both cases.

For a long time you said you wanted threaded comments in Slack but you wanted to do them right. In January, Slack added threading, but in a very gentle, optional way. Is this comments done right?

I think it is. We went through so many different iterations of this. One of the things we found we really wanted to avoid was forcing people to have to think too much before they typed what they wanted to say. If you were constantly in a position where you had to decide when you wanted to answer somebody's yes/no question in a channel or in a thread, it makes Slack very difficult to use. This strikes the right balance. It allows threading when threading is needed and gets out of the way when it's not.

What are the major areas of focus these days? What are you spending your time on?

Making Slack a good solution for a broader array of businesses. Here I specifically mean making it work for some of the biggest companies. Slack was originally designed for teams of people. At 50,000 it's no longer one team. International expansion, we are already in a position where 40 percent of our paid seats are outside of North America. But now we have to start taking payments in Yen and making a German-language version of the product available and all of that kind of stuff. The last one I would mention is platform. There's over 1,000 apps in the Slack App Directory. We get pigeonholed as a messaging app. Slack is this bridge and we have these incredible partnerships.

When we talked the last time you said that you had explored potentially buying back Flickr. With Verizon acquiring Yahoo's assets, any chance that you'd look at that again?

No. I think we could have, in the past gotten it for free if we wanted to, but the cost of taking it over would be extreme. personally I have no interest in doing it. The world is very different. We started it 14 years ago almost. I love what I am doing right now, the amazing team. It's been hugely successful. wqe have customers all around the world and it's growing very quickly. I definitely wouldn't want to take on anything else.
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Timeline: Devin Nunes and the Trump wiretapping claims

AP

Devin Nunes is facing calls to resign as chairman of House Intelligence and refusing to share, even with his own committee, the sources of his claim that the Obama administration may have surveilled President Trump. Here's how we got to this point:

January 2015: Nunes, a six-term Congressman, becomes chairman of House Intelligence Committee.

November 2016: Nunes begins advising Trump transition team.

January 25, 2017: Nunes and ranking member Adam Schiff announce they're investigating Russian election meddling, including possible communications between Russia and "political campaigns."

March 4: Trump accuses Barack Obama of having Trump Tower "wiretapped".

March 15: After initially defending Trump, Nunes says he does not believe Trump Tower was bugged. But he adds a caveat: Trump campaign communications could have been incidentally collected as part of wider surveillance efforts.

March 20: FBI Director James Comey testifies before Intel Committee, and refutes Trump's claims. Nunes reiterates that there was no "physical" wiretap, but repeats the possibility of incidental collection.

March 21: Nunes travels to White House grounds to review evidence of potential surveillance of Trump associates. The visit is not initially made public.

March 22:

  • Nunes holds unexpected press conference and says an unnamed individual (or individuals) showed him intelligence reports indicating the Obama administration captured communications involving Trump and/or his associates. He said it appeared to be legal, incidental collection but nonetheless seemed "inappropriate" and troubling.
  • Nunes briefs Trump before Schiff, despite Trump being a potential subject of the committee's investigation.
  • Trump says he feels "somewhat" vindicated.

March 23: Nunes expresses regret for failing to brief Intel committee before White House.

March 27:

  • News of Nunes' White House visit emerges.
  • He says he needed to visit WH to access to secure system, an explanation that is immediately challenged.
  • Schiff calls on Nunes to recuse himself from Russia investigation.

March 28:

  • Russia hearings scheduled for this week are abruptly cancelled, including one at which former acting AG Sally Yates was slated to testify.
  • The Washington Post reports (and the WH denies) that the Trump admin tried to block Yates from testifying.
  • Nunes says he will not share his sources for the Trump surveillance claims, even with his own committee.
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Republicans block moves to release Trump's tax returns

Andrew Harnik / AP

Republicans blocked two separate attempts today — a resolution in the Ways and Means Committee and a resolution on the House floor — by House Democrats to force a release of President Trump's tax returns, per The Hill.

  • The Democratic argument from Rep. Zoe Lofren (CA): "I think it is absolutely essential for the president's tax returns to be released so that the members of the Judiciary Committee can do their job to research whether the Emoluments Clause has been violated and whether permission should be given to the president to receive payments from foreign states."
  • The Republican rebuttal from Rep. Kevin Brady (TX): The attempts do "absolutely nothing to promote a substantive policy discussion on the real-life challenges facing the people, families, and job creators we were sent here to serve."
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White House boycotts correspondents' dinner in "solidarity" with Trump

Alex Brandon / AP

The White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA) has been informed that the entire White House staff will be skipping next month's White House Correspondents' Dinner in "solidarity" with President Trump.

The WH announced in February that Trump would not attend, with a spokeswoman saying at the time: "There's no reason for him to go in and sit and pretend like this is going to be just another Saturday night."

Of the full staff boycott, the WHCA said it "regrets this decision very much," adding: "Only the White House can speak to the signal it wants to send with this decision."

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Manafort's finances in Cyprus trigger investigation

Matt Rourke / AP

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was associated with at least 15 bank accounts and 10 companies whose activities triggered a money laundering investigation by a Cypriot bank, per NBC News.

  • One of the Manafort-associated companies was involved in a nearly $20 million deal with a Russian oligarch described as "one of the 2-3 oligarchs Putin turns to on a regular basis."
  • Manafort chose to close his Cypriot accounts rather than provide additional information after their activity triggered a money laundering investigation by the Cyprus Popular Bank.
  • The accounts were set up "for a legitimate business purpose," a Manafort spokesperson told NBC News.
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House votes to roll back privacy protections for internet customers

Elise Amendola / AP

The House voted 215-to-205 Tuesday night to overturn Obama-era regulations that require internet providers like Verizon, Comcast and AT&T to get a user's permission before sharing their browsing history and other data with advertisers. It also prohibits the FCC from creating similar regulations in the future.

The White House has said it will recommend that President Trump sign the resolution, which was already approved by the Senate.

What it means for broadband providers: The rules hadn't yet gone into effect so this doesn't change the day-to-day ways that ISPs deal with customer data. But this likely clears the way for ISPs to go full speed ahead in taking on Facebook and Google for digital ad dollars. Meanwhile, the FCC will have to determine how to deal with privacy on broadband networks without the rules in place.

What it means for net neutrality: The vote could roil the waters on a larger debate over net neutrality. The privacy rules only exist because of the FCC's 2015 net neutrality regulations, which conservatives hate and liberals love. So this rollback — should the president sign it into law — adds a new wrinkle to that conversation.

  • One key lawmaker said this could make a legislative deal on net neutrality more difficult. "I mean, after this today, if this goes through, this is like a sledgehammer, right?" said Frank Pallone, the top Democrat on the House's Energy and Commerce Committee, adding, when asked about the chances of a net neutrality bill in light of the upcoming vote, "I'm always willing to meet with people but I think this really poisons the well."
  • Republican Sen. John Thune, who will likely lead any effort to reach a deal, said he would be willing to consider adding privacy protections to a legislative compromise on net neutrality "if that were something that it took to get Democrats to the table." Marsha Blackburn, who chairs a key tech subcommittee and sponsored the House resolution to roll back the privacy rules, said that she didn't think the vote would make getting a deal more difficult. "We're doing what needs to be done," she told Axios.
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Ryan and McConnell seem to diverge on Obamacare

J. Scott Applewhite / AP; J. Scott Applewhite / AP

At the House GOP Leadership press conference this morning, Paul Ryan seemed to indicate that Republican attempts to repeal Obamacare aren't done yet:

"We want to get it right, we're gonna keep talking to each other until we get it right. I'm not gonna put a timeline on it because this is too important to not get right."

But it seemed like Mitch McConnell didn't get that message before the Senate GOP Leadership press conference this afternoon:

"I want to thank the president and speaker — they went all out to try to pass repeal and replacement. Sorry that didn't work, but our Democratic friends now have the law that they wrote and wanted. And we'll see how that works out."

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Here comes Brexit

Christopher Furlong / AP

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May signed a letter this afternoon that officially declared the country's intention to leave the European Union. Addressed to European Council President Donald Tusk, it'll be hand delivered by Sir Tim Barrow, the British ambassador to the E.U., to Brussels tomorrow afternoon.

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Dunkin' Donuts and Waze will order your coffee

Mike Mozart via Flickr CC

Boston is gearing up for a mass descent on drive thru lines: Google's Waze, the traffic navigation app, is teaming up with Dunkin' Donuts to order coffee for drivers before they arrive at brick and mortar stores, according to The Boston Globe.

If this goes well, Waze will expand the "order ahead" function to other merchants.

The partnership: Waze doesn't earn a commission on the Dunkin' Donuts sales, but Dunkin' Donuts is increasing the amount it spends on Waze ads. To place an order, users will need both the Waze and the Dunkin' Donuts apps installed and be registered with the Dunkin' loyalty program.

Why it matters: Brand loyalty for Dunkin' and Waze. Note, Starbucks had a similar partnership announced last week with Amazon's Alexa and Ford vehicles. The Dunkin' Donuts-Waze partnership allows anyone — not just Ford drivers with Alexa — to take advantage, but will bring people time and time again to both Waze and Dunkin'.

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Nunes won't share surveillance source with own committee

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

House Intelligence chairman Devin Nunes will not share the sources behind his claim that the Obama administration may have surveilled President Trump and/or his associates - even with his own committee.

Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the committee, has already called on Nunes to recuse himself from the Russia investigation after it emerged that the chairman was on White House grounds when he reviewed the alleged evidence behind his claims. One House Republican, Walter Jones, echoed that call today.

Nunes is under increasing pressure, but made this defiant statement to a Fox News reporter today:

We will never reveal those sources and methods
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Spicer tells reporter to stop shaking her head

During today's press briefing, Sean Spicer claimed that people would claim there was a Russia connection if Trump used Russian salad dressing, to which white house correspondant April Ryan began shaking her head. Spicer told her not to...

And Ryan tweeted in response:

Ryan then talked to CNN about the interaction: