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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As with most big deals in tech, the key question to ask about Salesforce's $28 billion purchase of Slack isn't whether the price is too high or low, but whether the combination makes sense.

Between the lines: Big Tech companies have plenty of their own cash and can easily borrow more, but only a finite amount of time to innovate before rivals capture their turf.

  • In explaining the deal to investors on a previously scheduled conference call, CEO Marc Benioff characterized the move as a bet that the pandemic-driven shift to remote work isn't a temporary blip but rather a permanent transformation.

The big picture: Benioff has long considered acquiring widely used business tools as a means to expand Salesforce's footprint beyond the sales and marketing teams and into the broader workforce.

  • Salesforce kicked the tires on Twitter and lost out to Microsoft in a bidding war for LinkedIn.

Slack has the lead in its still-nascent space, but was facing a challenge of its own — namely that Microsoft's rival Teams was bundled into Office subscriptions.

  • As a standalone company, Slack couldn't easily manage such a move, nor could it afford to get into a price war.

What they're saying: Box CEO Aaron Levie praised the deal, noting how Salesforce has grown beyond its initial goals of taking on Oracle and SAP.

  • "This isn't just about the future of 'collaboration,'" he wrote in a blog post. "This is a new 'operating system' for how knowledge workers will interact in the future, connecting the front office, back office, and customers all together in a single platform."

Yes, but: The death of a standalone Slack isn't just sad for customers who liked the upstart, but also a blow to those who held up the company as proof that small companies could still take on the Big Tech giants.

What's next: The deal still needs regulatory approvals and also a formal go-ahead from shareholders — although 55% of Slack's voting power is already committed to supporting the sale.

Go deeper: Salesforce's Slack deal resets the tech antitrust debate

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 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Politics: Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategyBiden's COVID-19 bubble.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong to put tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.

Trump impeachment trial to start week of Feb. 8, Schumer says

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: The Washington Post via Getty

The Senate will begin former President Trump's impeachment trial the week of Feb. 8, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Friday on the Senate floor.

The state of play: Schumer announced the schedule after reaching an agreement with Republicans. The House will transmit the article of impeachment against the former president late Monday.