Flock is a team messaging application made in India that has aspirations of taking on Slack, and over the years, Flock has made a number of improvements in the pursuit of this goal. Now, Flock has released a new tool to help users to migrate their data from Slack, allowing them to switch platforms without losing out on any of their chats, files, or other information. Gadgets 360 spoke to Flock's Vice President, Product and Design, Ninad Raval to learn more about the new tool being announced by the company, and how the company has progressed in the last six months.
"Over the last few months, we started receiving queries from people on Slack who wanted to switch to Flock, and at that time we hadn't bothered with a migration tool because we hadn't expected this audience," admits Raval. "Once they had made their decision, they wanted to bring in their data, their messages, their users, instead of having to create [that] all over again."
"The migration tool itself is a very simple two-three step process. Slack teams, from their admin interface, simply have to click on the export data button, and it downloads a zip file," he adds. "Then go to your Flock page, and there's an import option to bring in the details from the zip file."
Slack allows you to export the user information, channels, the message history (depending on whether you're a free or paid user, this will be a limited or full archive) and any files you might have shared. Flock can pick up on all of these fields, and add it to your new team on Flock.
"The only thing that gets left behind is any bot messages, because Slack does not export this," adds Raval.
Paywalls cause people to migrate
According to Raval, the top reason why some Slack users want to migrate is once they hit the paid limits on the platform. "Many times, people hit the message ceiling with Slack very quickly, and don't want to switch to the paid model," says Raval.
"Then there are also caps on the number of apps and integrations you can add under the free plan," he adds. "We don't have the same limits on the free plan. Once you start running into payment requests, not everyone with a small team wants to pay that."
Beyond that, he says that for new teams that are just comparing tools, Flock can be an attractive proposition because of how lightweight and fast the app is, and also points to localisation in non-English languages, saying that Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish are some areas where there has been encouraging traction, and that the company is looking at more such languages.
Still a work in progress
Despite this, there's no question that Flock's growth is still a work in progress. In December, Flock had unveiled FlockOS, a developer platform to help bolster the number of apps available. Raval tells us that the company has recently released a powerful GitHub app, and one for Google Drive.
"Just last week we launched a very powerful Google Drive application. Another thing we've recently launched is a very tightly integrated Github app," he says. "[You can] browse and share directly from inside Flock instead of having to use a different interface (or a browser on the PC). We've also made it easy to give access to permissions to access documents by sharing within Flock."
However, in December, the company had planned on opening up its FlockOS as a developer platform, much like Google Play. Six months down the line, this hasn't happened yet, and as a result, third-party developers are also limited. Raval assures us that the marketplace is still very much in the pipeline, but adds that currently developers who are making Flock apps are the ones who already use the chat platform, and want to customise it for their own needs. "Because the marketplace is still in the works, there is not much incentive for third party developers beyond the ones who want to make custom integrations for their own teams," says Raval.
The other issue is that the numbers have remained static for Flock for a while now. Raval says that there are around 50,000 weekly active users, even though around 2,000 new teams join each week. This means that a lot of those 2,000 people who join Flock are just benchmarking it against other platforms, perhaps including Slack, because the number of users that the company talked about in December was also around 50,000. Three months before that, the number was between 40,000 to 50,000. For almost an year, the numbers have shown no improvement.
Despite this, Raval manages to sound upbeat. "It's not so much churn, but a lot of these are teams in an exploratory mode, which is why the overall number remains low," he says. "But once a team actually starts using Flock, crossing around 1,000 messages, then the satisfaction is high, and the retention is very good."