20VC: Slack Founder Stewart Butterfield on Leadership Styles, Decision-Making, The 3 Levels of Wealth, IPOs vs Direct Listings & Why Effective Entrepreneurship is Like Parkour

Posted on 16th November 2020 by Harry

Stewart Butterfield is the Founder & CEO @ Slack, the leading channel-based messaging platform, used by millions to align their teams, unify their systems and drive their businesses forward. Prior to their direct listing in June 2019, Stewart raised over $1.3Bn from the likes of Accel, Thrive, Softbank, Kleiner, IVP, T Rowe, GV and a16z to name a few. Prior to founding Slack, Stewart co-founded Flickr, a company he built into one of the largest web services in the world. Due to his many incredible successes, Stewart has been named to the 100 Most Influential People in the World by Time Magazine, and one of the Top 50 Leaders by BusinessWeek.


In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Stewart made his way into the world of startups and came to found Flickr? What was his founding moment for the Slack journey?

2.) How does Stewart think about and assess his relationship to money? How has it changed over time? What does Stewart believe are the 3 levels of wealth? How does Stewart think about his identity being tied to the company? Is that a challenge? How does he mitigate it?

3.) How does Stewart describe his management style and philosophy today? How has it changed over time? How does Stewart approach reversible vs irreversible decisions? How does Stewart structure post-mortems? Why does Stewart believe effective entrepreneurship is like parkour?

4.) How does Stewart think about and advise on the debate between direct listing, IPO and SPAC? What has been better/worse and different since making the transition to being a public company? What have been some of the biggest surprises?

5.) Why does Stewart believe that for most companies, comprehension is the reason for the lack of adoption and customer acquisition? How does he look to solve that with Slack? What have been their biggest mistakes on messaging and branding?

Item’s Mentioned In Today’s Episode

Stewart’s Favourite Book: Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box, Crucial Conversations Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High, The Courage To Be Disliked

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