Cloud-based enterprise software producer Salesforce agreed to acquire Slack, the US-based publicly listed communication platform which previously counted telecoms firm SoftBank, internet conglomerate Alphabet and media group Comcast among its backers.

The transaction was sized at $27.7bn, $26.8bn cash and the remainder in Salesforce shares.

Salesforce plans to leverage the platform as the new interface for Salesforce Customer 360, its application and customer identity management tool, and expand Salesforce Customer 360 into a platform that enables company employees, customers and partners to communicate with each other through existing workflows.

Founded in 2009, Slack runs an enterprise messaging platform with about 12 million daily active users. The covid-19 pandemic forcing a large number of employees around the globe to work remotely gave it a boost, growing its user base. However, Slack is still behind peer Microsoft Teams in user numbers.

The company went public in a direct listing in June 2019, bypassing an expensive initial public offering (which only a few tech companies, like Google and Spotify, have been able to afford to do), with a $26 guidance price valuing it at about $13.1bn. Its shares closed at $43.84 on the announcement of the acquisition, giving it a market capitalisation of more than $24.5bn.

Slack is part of the large social media and instant messaging space, which grew a lot over the past decade as smartphones became affordable.

Corporate venture investors have also been attracted to this space, though the number of deals they have backed has fluctuated dramatically and so has been the total estimated capital.

In 2020, however, GCV registered the largest number of rounds (54), outpacing any other year, although dollar figures suggest valuations may have been under downwards pressure.