This story is from the 2017 Access FYI: How Young Innovators Are Connecting the World. Explore more from this issue

April Underwood: Connecting the Workplace Like Never Before

Want to know the inner workings of Slack? Many tie back to its vice president of product.

As vice president of product at popular messaging software start-up Slack, April Underwood has a knack for tackling workplace communication sore spots. Since joining Slack in 2015, she’s been named to Fortune magazine’s 2016 “40 Under 40” and has helped fuel its tools, now valued at nearly $4 billion and used by more than 2 million people a day, including employees at Samsung, Zappos and Pinterest.

For the uninitiated: Slack organizes conversations in channels built around teams, projects and topics. (It’s essentially an alternative to emails and group texts.) Everyone has a transparent view of what’s going on. For sensitive information, organizers can create private channels and invite a smaller number of members.

Users sing Slack’s praises for keeping information overload at bay. (Slack reports that customers see a 48.6 percent reduction in internal email, on average.) Underwood is passionate about the same problem — it’s what drew her to the company in the first place, she says.

That productive spirit is fueling what’s next for Slack. In January 2017, the company announced investments in 11 new bot start-ups, all of which aim to build engagement with Slack’s messaging tools. And later the same month came the launch of Slack Enterprise Grid, which lets IT, security and compliance managers control permissions and scale chat configurations to any workplace size.

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