For most consumers, Amazon is just an online retailer with convenient shipping. But looking holistically at the company’s enterprise businesses, a Slackquisition, which could cost as much as $9 billion, could make a lot of sense.
Amazon hosts vast portions of the internet, and provides low-cost cloud computing, database tools, analytics, artificial intelligence computing for developers, plus way more. What might be missing from all that is an easy way for customers to interact with those services. As an enterprise communications company that’s already known for its robust integrations for developers, Slack could be seen as a perfect pre-built interface for Amazon customers.
It’s no secret that Amazon sees a future in artificial intelligence. Its most visible product (literally, it’s a 79-foot monolith looming over Times Square right now), the Amazon Echo, couldn’t function without the voice recognition and natural language understanding that AI allows. But good AI talent is hard to find, and Slack has an entire Search, Learning and Intelligence (SLI) team dedicated to infusing its service with smarter features.
Amazon also offers AI tools as a service on its cloud, from the brains behind Alexa (called Lex) to simple image recognition.
Amazon’s various flavors of the Echo (the Look, Show, Dot, and now Wand) are finding homes in kitchens and on nightstands around the world, but it’s mainly a consumer product. Amazon’s latest major Echo, the Show, is meant to put a graphical interface on Alexa, but it also integrates features like video calling. Slack has also recently added voice and video calling—Amazon’s hardware could be the one-stop solution for businesses that are already using Slack. Add in voice controls and a little more AI, and you’ve got a replacement for the personal assistant brewing.
Microsoft, another one-time rumored Slack suitor, has a lot of elements that Amazon has: a burgeoning cloud service, a push for AI dominance, hardware offerings and a huge presence in enterprise, and even its own office messaging service called Teams. If Amazon doesn’t start building an entire enterprise ecosystem with hardware, software, and cloud services to compete with Microsoft, it may not remain relevant in the long term.
But unless a Slackquisition moves from rumor to reality, we won’t know what, if anything, Amazon sees in the company.