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Report: Microsoft considered $8B Slack purchase, but Bill Gates talked them out of it

Skype may still be the best way talk to you parents across the country or message your friends from your desktop, but Slack is quickly gaining ground as the defacto group messaging app for businesses, especially startups and media companies.

Microsoft was apparently willing to pay as much as $8 billion for the group messaging service, according to report in TechCrunch today. However, the internal team pushing for the acquisition couldn’t convince co-founder Bill Gates and CEO Satya Nadella that Slack was worth a takeover, suggesting improvements to Skype instead.

Slack is currently looking to raise up to $300 million, which would give it a value of $4 billion. But the company is working on an integrated voice and video service that would directly compete with Microsoft-owned Skype, so Microsoft may have been willing to pay a huge premium for the cachet that comes with the Slack brand.

In fact, Skype has already recognized the dominance of Slack: it introduced a Slack integration earlier this year that allows users to start group Skype chats from within a Slack conversation.

Heading the acquisition effort was executive vice president of applications and services Qi Lu, who oversees Skype as well as Office and other Microsoft apps. Skype already has business solutions, but it doesn’t have nearly the same clout as Slack. While Microsoft could easily build a direct Slack competitor, buying the brand and wrapping it into Skype may be the easiest way for it to catch up to the messaging startup.

It is unclear if Microsoft intended to keep Slack as a separate app or roll it into Skype. Microsoft hasn’t shied away from throwing away the brand name of a popular app while rolling its functionality into prestige Microsoft apps. For example, Acompli was one of the best email solutions on Android and iOS and Microsoft basically rebranded it as Outlook two months after buying the email app. And now it is shutting down the Sunrise calendar app to roll that into Outlook as well.

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