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| 19 September, 2017

Saudi-backed fund invests in Slack

Image used for illustrative purpose. A Saudi money changer displays Saudi Riyal banknotes at a currency exchange shop in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia September 29, 2016.

Image used for illustrative purpose. A Saudi money changer displays Saudi Riyal banknotes at a currency exchange shop in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia September 29, 2016.

REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser
LONDON: Software startup Slack Technologies raised $250 million from SoftBank Group and other investors in a funding round that boosted the company’s valuation to $5.1 billion.

The latest fundraising, led by SoftBank through its giant Vision Fund and joined by Accel and other investors, lifted Slack’s total funds raised to $841 million, the enterprise messaging operator said on Monday.

The SoftBank Vision Fund is the world’s largest private equity fund, backed by Japan’s SoftBank Group and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment, Apple, Qualcomm, Taiwan’s Foxconn Technology and Japan’s Sharp are also investors.

In July, sources told Reuters that Slack was raising $250 million in a new funding round led by SoftBank.

The company in the past has raised money from venture firms including GGV Capital, Spark Capital and Thrive Capital, among others.

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Slack this week also announced support of four new languages and a shared channels feature, allowing employees from different companies to work together using its platform.

“We believe this is the most important thing we’ve done since launching Slack itself,” April Underwood, Slack vice president of product, told Reuters.

The messaging market is also attracting investment from technology titans that include Google, Cisco and Facebook.

Slack currently has 6 million daily active users and more than 2 million paid users, up from 5 million users and 1.5 million paid users in January.

The new shared channels feature allows users to create group chats with internal and external users.

The SoftBank Vision Fund will also become a cornerstone investor in the Hong Kong initial public offering of ZhongAn Online Property and Casualty Insurance — China’s first Internet-only insurer.

“This is a good marriage for the company in the sense that this is a very strategic, visionary investor and they’ve done a lot of study into the company. SoftBank is definitely a very strong stamp of approval,” ZhongAn’s chief financial officer Francis Tang said at a news conference.

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