Butterfield’s announced departure comes days after Salesforce said co-CEO Bret Taylor was stepping down just a year after being promoted to the share the top job with Marc Benioff, Salesforce’s co-founder.
Benioff informed employees on a call on Monday that Butterfield was leaving, according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be named because they weren’t authorized to speak on the record. Salesforce acquired Slack for about $27 billion last year, its largest purchase ever. The deal was announced in late 2020.
“Stewart is an incredible leader who created an amazing, beloved company in Slack,” a company spokesperson told CNBC in a statement. “He has helped lead the successful integration of Slack into Salesforce and today Slack is woven into the Salesforce Customer 360 platform. Stewart also was instrumental in choosing Lidiane Jones as the next Slack CEO to lead it into its next chapter. Lidiane has a strong background in customer and enterprise tech and has been among Salesforce’s leadership for over three years. We’re grateful for Stewart and excited for Lidiane as she takes over the reins of Slack.”
Tamar Yehoshua, Slack’s product chief, will also depart, along with Jonathan Prince, senior vice president in charge of marketing, brand and communications, the people familiar said.
Jones spent over 12 years at Microsoft
Butterfield originally worked with the other co-founder of Slack, Cal Henderson, at photo-sharing website Flickr, which Yahoo acquired in 2005. In 2009 the two men founded Tiny Speck as they sought to build an online video game named Glitch. The game failed to become a world-beating hit and Tiny Speck shut it down. Tiny Speck had developed software employees had used to build Glitch, and the startup made the software available to the public as Slack in 2014.
It grew quickly, mobilizing Microsoft. When Microsoft launched Teams in 2016, Slack took out an ad in the New York Times to welcome Microsoft to the market.
“I’m not going to do anything entrepreneurial,” Butterfield told Salesforce employees in a Slack message. “As I said in my announcement to Slack team, these days my fantasies are about gardening. As hackneyed as it might sound, I really am going to spend more time with my family (as well as work on some personal projects, focus on health and generally put time into those things which [are] harder to do when one is leading a large organization).”
Butterfield met with Taylor in March 2020 and said Slack wanted to acquire Quip, the productivity app Taylor sold to Salesforce in 2016, from Salesforce. Months later, Taylor told Butterfield that while Salesforce wasn’t interested in selling Quip to Slack, Salesforce was interested in buying Slack.