AMA: Amir Shevat of Slack

AMA: Sam Mallikarjunan of HubSpot
March 28, 2016
AMA: Matt Mickiewicz
April 25, 2016


The Amir Shevat AMA is happening on Thursday April 14th, 2016 (3pm EST)

Amir Shevat is the director of developer relations at Slack. Previously Amir was the global Startup Outreach lead in Google Play. Amir Led scalable programs in Developer Relations and Google Campus Tel Aviv. Amir has also founded and sold several startups. He is a developer at heart with a passion for b2c and mobile.

If you’re not an OG yet feel free to join us.

To join these AMAs, enter the #AMA discussion channel in the Slack group at the specified date and time.

Amir Shevat – Head of Developer Relations at Slack – Transcript

 

Amir Shevat is the Head of Developer Relations at Slack.

The AMA with Amir was held on April 14th, 2016. This transcript has been edited for punctuation, grammar, etc.

everyone! Happy to meet you all, and to do this AMA. My name is Amir Shevat and I am the director of developer relations at Slack. For the next hour, I will be happy to answer questions. My expertise is in bots, platform, product and developer relations.

How do you manage an infrastructure which has so many integrations? Traditionally this comes at a huge IT overhead to do properly but you have all seemed to figure it out. Any suggestion for new Saas / product startups?

On the UX level, we are very, very customer focused; that means keeping the platform clean and transparent as we can. On the infrastructure front we use AWS and distributed architecture, we use New Relic for infra alerts.

I would love to know more about Slack integration with Webhooks and what are some tips and tricks for using Webhooks to make us more productive.

Great question! Webhooks are a great way to post content into Slack. It is basically an HTTP you make to push content in a channel. Consider combining it with a slash command to make it more interactive – https://api.slack.com/slash-commands – also check out bots.

Thanks, Ashevat- I’ve already written a few to quickly do directory lookups at my company or interact with APIs.Also, at work I am trying to encourage everyone to use Slack. We host our email on 0365 so we could use Skype for business, but it’s awful compared to Slack . My biggest obstacle has been Slack not integrating with Active directory or single sign on. Any plans in the future so business users don’t have to create new accounts?

Working on it, coming soon

Out of all communities, how did you find out about OG?

David is awesome. We met in SXSW, and I was sold on it.

What is the coolest part about working at Slack?

I love working in a company that is on the bleeding edge of tech, growing like crazy, and still able to make a big impact within it.

What do you think about chatbots and other platforms that are deving bots?

Chatbots are the future! We will all have personal bots that help us, and we would wonder how we lived without them. I think all platforms should drive bots to be a great experience, or else we will have a lot of bots. I am actively working with the other platform players to make it happen.

There are so many communities like this using Slack (vs. companies for internal use) – any ideas if Slack will eventually cater to those distinct use cases?

Our major use case is business. We love communities, but we want to focus (as startups should) on our major use case at the moment.

What happened internally when Slack realized that people like David were making groups focused on certain topics and those groups were gathering hundreds of members? Also, has that affected any future development projects?

We love the communities on Slack and support them as much as we can. As I mentioned, our main focus is businesses, but we are constantly trying to make better for all our users.

What types of analytics insights do you anticipate building for the internal team use case of Slack as well as for the community groups (such as OG)?

You tell me,what should we build?

Do you think at this stage bots helping us with generic questions for signing up for a SaaS/platform and little bit of customer service makes sense, or do you think they are good enough for answering more insightful questions about your product / platform / SaaS – context can be — Hi XYZ Bot, Can I do this with your service/Platform?

I think bots are great for user on-boarding, training and engaging with users. Bots are less useful for tasks that require getting visual data from the user, like a point on a map or a shade of a color.

When building relationships with developers, what are some things they say/do that are red flags, and vice versa?

Great question- the first is not being there – that is a great signal that users are not aware or do not care. Then comes the of low quality apps – that means that the devs are not proficient. Last is what we see with mobile apps today – developer and user fatigue.

What are the plans for “super slacks,” as a lot of us are joining multiple Slack teams?

We are working hard to support for big teams. We know there is still a lot of work to make that great.

Do you consent to / support utilizing Slack in the datacenter for low-latency chatting?

We use as the only communication (other than talking ) – we do not use email at all internally.

Do you ever look at someone while typing out a message on Slack, just to make eye contact for the human factor (when in person)?

I do all the time

Would Slack ever consider supporting communities in a very light touch manner by granting them paid Slack features for free? One of the challenges with running community on Slack is the 10,000 message limit and the limit on integrations, and no community has the financial wherewithal to actually pay per user

Great feedback, constantly about it.

What is your opinion on the phone systems that integrate with Slack? Is an external phone system something Slack would ever build into the product?

We have `calls` integrated into Slack, also Skype, Zoom and many other providers.

For sure – I mean external phones (people calling in or calling out to #’s, SMS etc.). The reason I ask is because we’re building it, and our main focus is on the slack integration (for context).

Fantastic! Publish it in our app directory – https://slack.com/apps Slack App Directory

 Explore and install apps on the Slack App Directory

We’re currently developing using PHP/Laravel – we constantly say, “Well Slack is using PHP” – are you guys still using PHP, and do you guys ever discuss switching, if so? (Any ammo for us?)

We use PHP and a little Java – no plans to

Any thoughts about what could be done about developer/user fatigue down the road?

Keep thinking WIIFM (What’s in it for me) for developers and keep innovating!

Developers care about – Belonging, Fun and Growth/Success – always keep your on these things.

I am excited for the slack threads…

I’m not looking forward to threads… used it in another chat app and the UI/UX of it was awkward.

Soon we can have a threaded conversation about the merits of threaded conversation

From a recent article, “Slack, which launched its current business about two years ago, said it has 2.3 million daily active users, up from 520,000 a year ago. The company also said it had more than $64 million in annual recurring revenue.” What do you think has contributed most to your growth the past year?

Focus, empathy to our users and developers, understanding that we need to improve, team and more.

Many of us have more than say 10 teams we are a part of – is there any way to simplify sign-in, as it is a pain to have to now sign in all the teams on the iPad and the phone? I know it’s small, but something like an account that has all your teams’ sign-in synced…

We know it is a – working on it.

ISlack, and feel it would be much easier to keep track of channels and their associated content if there was a quick seen/hover option. Any plans to do this?

Not sure what you mean – like a TL;DR?

That’s probably phase 2… I was thinking more like hovering on a channel to see mentions, etc. without clicking into it…

You have the `mentions & reactions` view.

PHP is an interesting decision for a huge multi-million user application. What was the process behind choosing it?

Our CTO and co-founder loves PHP. Re: big companies – Facebook uses PHP as well.

With a startup that is growing like crazy, do you guys have a good work/life balance or do you have insane hours and high burn-out?

Amazing work life balance! I come home every day at 6:30pm and play with my kids. But at work we work, and hard.

Can you share any more details on the Slack fund and how developers can get their companies and products in front of the members in your company that are overseeing that initiative?

Slack fund: $80M under management, early stage investment, no seat on the board, focus on bots and infra for bots. Email fund@slack.com with candidates.

Do you want to see a deck alongside a product?

Yes, and a working prototype would be nice too!

You mentioned that bots are great for user onboarding and training. Could you speak more in detail about that?

Yes, bots are users that are powered by software. If done right, they are easy to relate to and can lead users through the rough parts of learning and collecting feedback and become the user’s `trusted friend` – https://medium.com/slack-developer-blog/when-it-comes-to-bots-the-beer-test-might-be-more-important-than-the-turing-test-596af0032e09#.z0yn8fr6q

What is one thing you’re the most proud of, that you’ve built or done at Slack?

I think opening our roadmap is a super radical move

https://medium.com/slack-developer-blog/the-slack-platform-roadmap-34067b054177#.jq4wui2dm

I think we are out of time! Thank you so much for all the great questions!