While unexpected, the purchase of Astro by Slack isn’t as weird as it seems. One of Slack’s goals is to see its messenger channels usurp email as a business communication method of choice. Astro’s popular email client leveraged AI to better manage the flood of emails users received. The company also made the popular Astrobot app for Slack, which allows people to integrate their emails and calendars with Slack and lets users search both without leaving the app.
The popularity of Astrobot obviously made Astro too tempting for the company, so it snapped it up. However, Slack buying an email client company shouldn’t be seen as a sign Slack is about to get into the email client business. Matter of fact, Astro’s email clients will stop working on October 10, Astro’s CEO announced.
As for what Slack is going to do with Astro’s tech, in a blog post announcing the acquisition, the company said:
We all know that email is still a very important tool in business communication. Billions of emails are sent every day, and in those are millions of documents exchanged, contracts negotiated and decisions memorialized. We’ve taken some steps to make it possible to integrate email into Slack, but now we’re in a position to make that interoperability much simpler and much, much more powerful. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible to help teams shift conversations to where they would be most productive–in a channel, alongside the relevant context and software tools teams use at work, from ServiceNow and Salesforce to Workday and Box.
To help make this possible, we’ve acquired Astro, a company with deep expertise in email infrastructure and maker of the popular Astrobot for Slack. In Astro, we’re bringing on an incredible team that collectively have built the industry’s best mail and messaging tools like Zimbra, Acompli (acquired by Microsoft, and the foundation for Outlook Mobile), and Mumbo (acquired by LinkedIn). We see this as a natural next step as channel-based collaboration becomes the default way of working.