The game failed. Again. Then (again!) he broke out something he and his team had created by accident while making the game.
Yet Slack’s well-designed chat function is a trojan horse for bigger ideas. Its ambition is to become the hub at the center of all your other business software. It ties in to many of the applications you use at work: Dropbox, Google Apps, GitHub, Heroku, and Zendesk to name a few. Once they’re all connected, it can keep track of most everything you do with them. Most importantly, it’s got killer search built right in. «Right now, your data ends up a little bit in Twitter, a little bit in Zendesk, a little bit in GitHub,» Stewart says. «Slack is the one mutual platform where all those things come together. That’s the longer-term thinking.»
And then there’s email. Slack doesn’t support email! For an all-in-one corporate communications system, this is an omission as large as a tech bro’s ego. (Email integration is in the works, Stewart says.)
Cal added the last touch: a way to upload images via email, so you could share pix from a mobile phone. The demo blew everyone’s mind. By the time they walked out of the room at ETech, Flickr was famous.
The service pioneered a cocktail of features that we would come to associate with the Web 2.0 era—the transition period when the world moved from largely static web pages to ones that act more like interactive applications. Although Delicio.us was the first major service to introduce what came to be known as tagging, Flickr took it mainstream.
But its power move was something called an open API. To see just how far we’ve come, nobody who is anybody even uses the term «open API» anymore. It’s just API, now. But prior to Flickr, websites’ application programming interfaces—or the set of rules that govern how a program can interact with something in a database—were typically reserved as internal tools. Flickr threw open the doors and let anyone on the Internet prong into its API, the first big service for consumers to do so. It was a philosophical statement: Our data is better when we let other people do things with it. This is accepted gospel now, but at the time it was a new and radical notion.