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Coronavirus pandemic is seen as 'an opportunity for us to digitally transform': Slack CFO

Brian Sozzi
Editor-at-Large

Slack CFO Allen Shim tells Yahoo Finance the coronavirus pandemic will cause many corporations to rethink what the modern day workforce should look like. He is on the mark.

Two decade old emailing is dumb. Quick response workplace productivity tools such as Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google hangouts are what is needed more in offices and homes to support the quickening pace of workflows.

“We have talked about this as a new category. It’s a way of acknowledging that modern work requires modern tools to collaborate and be flexible and agile. I think people have seen this [coronavirus outbreak] as an opportunity to re-evaluate the way they’ve been doing business. Email is two, three decades old, which is primarily the way we collaborate. This is an opportunity for us to digitally transform,” Shim said on Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade.

Shim came to Yahoo Finance fresh off a much better than expected fourth quarter earnings report Thursday evening. Shares did fall 15% today as the company’s fiscal 2021 outlook for billings growth let some on Wall Street down.

Traders Gregory Rowe, left, and Dudley Devine, right, talk into their mobile phones on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange as they wait for the Slack Technologies IPO to begin trading, Thursday, June 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Will free users pay?

Shim says Slack has seen a nice uptick in free users amid the coronavirus outbreak. Zoom CFO Kelly Steckelberg told me the same thing a week ago. The question on the minds of many investors in both names — and others like it in the workplace productivity space— are whether free trials could be converted to paying customers across large organizations. Slack and Zoom are taking a cautious approach right now in trying to monetize these new customers, which are probably dealing with incredible stress on their businesses due to coronavirus. It’s the right thing to do.

But without question, the coronavirus situation has exposed tremendous flaws in how companies continue to operate in a tech laden 2020. Why are we still sending emails? Why are we still meeting face-to-face — on different floors — for almost every single meeting? Why are we spending so much money on coast-to-coast travel to meet people when a simple Zoom call would work just fine and save a ton of money?

Changes are on the way to the workplace. And that may be the only good thing coming out of the coronavirus.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and co-anchor of The First Trade at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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