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Salesforce loses yet another executive: Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield

Stewart Butterfield (left) and Nicholas Thompson (right) speak onstage at the WIRED25 Summit 2019 at The Commonwealth Club on Nov. 8, 2019, in San Francisco. | Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for WIRED

Stewart Butterfield, the CEO and co-founder of the now-ubiquitous workplace chat tool Slack is leaving Salesforce in January, the company confirmed to The Standard. 

His replacement as Slack CEO will be Lidiane Jones, who is currently serving as the executive vice president and general manager of digital experiences clouds at Salesforce. The news was first reported by Insider.

“Stewart is an incredible leader who created an amazing, beloved company in Slack. He has helped lead the successful integration of Slack into Salesforce, and today Slack is woven into the Salesforce Customer 360 platform,” a Salesforce spokesperson said in a statement, pointing to Butterfield’s instrumental role in choosing Jones as his successor. 

Butterfield is a longtime San Francisco-based entrepreneur who also founded the photo-sharing company Flickr before selling it to Yahoo. Slack initially started as a side project built by a gaming startup co-founded by Butterfield, but eventually became the company’s main focus. 

Last week, Salesforce was rocked by the surprise departure of the company’s co-CEO Bret Taylor, who announced he was leaving the company early next year to return to his entrepreneurial roots. 

Butterfield wrote on an internal Slack message board that his decision was unrelated to Taylor’s departure. 

Salesforce acquired Slack in a blockbuster acquisition last year valued at more than $27 billion. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has repeatedly underscored the importance of Slack to the company’s growth plan as businesses strike a balance between remote work and productivity. 

In its third-quarter earnings report last week, Salesforce announced that Slack grew 46% year-over-year and is now handling more than 2.6 billion actions daily. 

“I think that we’re finding a new way forward, and there will be more in office,  but we’ll maintain the flexibility to be at home,” Benioff said on the earnings call. 

“That is also one of the reasons why we acquired Slack, and I think why we’ve seen just great growth in Slack, why Slack channels are so important, why you saw the tremendous new multimedia environment in Slack,” he said. 

Kevin Truong can be reached at