Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield is stepping down in January • TechCrunch

Days after Salesforce CEO Bret Taylor announced his resignation, Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield announced that he will step down in January. The news was first reported by Business Insider. TechCrunch confirmed the news with Salesforce via email.

The company also announced that Lidiane Jones, executive VP and GM of cloud digital experiences at Salesforce, will take over for Butterfield, leaving a succession plan lacking when Taylor surprised everyone by resigning last week.

“Stewart is an incredible leader who has built an amazing, beloved company at Slack. He helped lead the successful integration of Slack into Salesforce, and today Slack taps into the Salesforce Customer 360 platform,” the company said in a statement.

The statement went on to discuss succession planning: “Stewart was also instrumental in selecting Lidiane Jones as the next Slack CEO to lead its next chapter. Lidiane has a strong background in customer and enterprise technology and has been in Salesforce leadership for over three years. We are grateful for Stewart and excited for Lidiane to take the helm at Slack.”

He said the following about his new job in his tweet today:

Butterfield came to Salesforce when the company acquired Slack for $27 billion in late 2020. This comes on top of Thursday’s announcement that Tableau CEO Mark Nelson will also be moving on. Makes you wonder what’s going on in the C-suite at Salesforce.

Brent Leary, founder and principal analyst at CRM Essentials, who has followed Salesforce since its early days, says that may explain Benioff’s upset on last week’s earnings call, even after the initial shock of Taylor’s announcement. “My first thought was that these things usually happen in threes — first Bret, the next day Tableau CEO Mark Nelson, and now this. But with Bret, the architect of the $27 billion acquisition of Slack and now the founder/CEO announcing his departure within days of each other, you get the feeling it’s another shoe. And this news should have been another reason why Marc was so visibly shaken when he announced Brett’s resignation last week,” Leary told TechCrunch.

Butterfield began his entrepreneurial journey in 2004 when he helped found the photo-sharing site Flickr. He sold that company to Yahoo (the current version of Yahoo owns this publication) a year later. He would later find a game called Glitch. The game went nowhere, but the company’s internal communications platform would later become Slack, which it named around 2013. It quickly gained popularity and finally went public in 2019 before being acquired by Salesforce in late 2020.

At the time of the sale, he told TechCrunch that he initially approached Taylor about buying Quip from Salesforce. Instead, that discussion led to Salesforce buying his company.

“I talked to Bret in the early days of the pandemic about whether or not they wanted to sell us Quip because I thought it would be good for us and I didn’t know what their plans were. [for it]. He told me he’d get back to me, and then he got back to me six months later,” Butterfield said.

At that point, word got out, and the companies began a series of discussions that ultimately resulted in Salesforce acquiring Slack.

Now Butterfield walks away. Maybe the timing of all these announcements is too much of a coincidence, but it sure feels like it’s piling up right now. Salesforce has always had a deep management team, but that talent pool has thinned a bit after these three announcements in a row.

Butterfield wasn’t the only one who jumped at the chance to go. In addition, chief marketing officer Tamar Yehoshua and senior vice president of marketing, brand and communications Jonathan Prince will also be leaving the company next month.

Salesforce shares are down almost 5% this morning.

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