Whilst on one level Salesforce's purchase of messaging app Slack may represent a welcome example of economic activity in challenging times, there are those who see it as a manifestation of an inexorable consolidation of power in the hands of a narrowing number of big tech companies. To the extent that the latter perspective may be true, a further question is whether such a trend is limited to the tech field or also indicative of a wider situation?
At a time when numerous small and middle tier businesses (whom are in many cases most exposed to the vagaries of economic fluctuation) are fighting for survival, the spectre of seemingly impossible competition (often in the form of larger, potentially more robust, enterprises) may add to their already heavy burdens.
Whilst we have already been seeing companies reinvent and realign their offerings in response to the market changes (which may account for a rise in restructuring work), it is also likely that there may be an increase of M&A activity in the short to medium term across a number of industries (both in terms of distressed buyouts as well as strategic acquisitions). This may also be impacted by the generally growing costs of (and requirements for) doing business (whether locally and even more so globally), including in the form of added regulatory, risk and compliance obligations, which could in itself have streamlining effects. Some commentators also predict that (against the backdrop of what was already an increasingly challenging market pre-pandemic) the protective (and necessarily finite) financial measures and assistance afforded by governments may mean that certain businesses have simply been afforded temporary stays of execution (so to speak) and that a rise in insolvency and restructurings may be imminent in the new year.
There shall inevitably, however, also still be the go-getting entrepreneurs seeking to identify and capitalise on opportunities, which may fuel the start-up space.
In either case, the travails of the market invariably manifest in change (out of necessity and/or strategy), which shall drive activity in some shape or other. As service providers, and as ever, we shall seek to remain dialled-in to current and anticipated developments to see how best we can assist our clients' needs.
Microsoft Teams is now used by nearly 10 times as many people as Slack. If Slack thought it was fun to have Microsoft as a competitor in 2016, it definitely didn't in 2020. Its legal challenges claim that Microsoft uses its heft to unfairly bully the competition. So, this acquisition should be seen in that context. Slack was being slowly squeezed. It has now been bought by a much bigger fish - it will be better placed to compete with Microsoft. But, there will be many who will use this case to lament the plight of smaller tech companies, who simply can't compete with a handful of tech giants.