Watch: Slack VP of CX Ali Rayl on how better improvisation can lead to more impactful innovation

The latest episode of our Make Business Better livestream

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You may be familiar with one of Silicon Valley’s most legendary startup stories of all time: how just a few years after creating Flickr from the ashes of a failed video game, Stewart Butterfield—while trying to resurrect the very same video game—ended up pivoting to create Slack.

In this episode, Slack’s VP of customer experience Ali Rayl gives Quartz CEO Zach Seward the inside story on how she watched the company go from an eight-person game-development team, of which she was a part, to a tech giant that was recently acquired by Salesforce for nearly $28 billion.

Zach Seward in conversation with Slack’s Ali Rayl

In the early days, she says, Slack was driven by passion and experimentation. As it matured, it held onto that startup spirit even as it gained more resources and expertise. Rayl shares some of the lessons she learned along the way, including:

  • Being data-informed, not data-driven, so you still have room to listen to your gut
  • Prioritizing the needs of your end-users over the needs of their CIOs
  • Addressing those needs in your products even when they don’t match your own
  • Not building software too robustly if you know it will need fixing in a year
  • Staying close to your customers through dedicated teams focused on feedback

Listen in as Rayl charts the company’s evolution from improvisation to innovation.


Follow Quartz on LinkedIn, Facebook, or YouTube to learn from CEO Zach Seward and other leaders working to improve their slice of the business world, airing live across all three platforms every other Tuesday at 11 am ET.