- Facebook is launching Workplace, an ad-free enterprise social networking product that will be separate from users’ regular profiles and will allow employees to connect through group discussions, voice and video calls and personalized newsfeeds, as the company announced on its website.
- Facebook has hinted that additional features such as bots — already fully integrated with Messenger — will be coming to Workplace, and they'll likely be announced at the company's upcoming F8 show for developers.
- The product will compete with other business-class messaging services like Slack, Yammer and Chatter, but Facebook has broader ambitions to reach employees who might not be deskbound and aren’t typically included in corporate digital collaboration efforts.
In raw numbers, Facebook dominates social media with the largest audience of any platform at more than 1.7 billion monthly active users, and it’s carefully honed its mobile communications spin-offs like Messenger and WhatsApp over the past few years as well. Moving into the enterprise group discussion space then presents uncharted but not wholly unfamiliar territory for the tech giant, and Workplace's launch comes with both desktop and mobile apps for more than 1,000 companies across communications operations.
The breadth of the project and the amount of work that went into development suggests that Facebook sees Workplace as an important opportunity to further build its business going forward. Workplace went through 20 months of closed beta under the name Facebook at Work, according to TechCrunch.
Coupled with the recent launch of a standalone Events app, the Workplace news is the latest indication that Facebook is focused on strengthen ties with specific user groups — young consumers in the former case, professionals in the latter.
“We wanted to see how it would work in very conservative industries and government agencies," Director of Workplace Julien Codorniou told TechCrunch, noting that the new service was built completely separate from Facebook and had to get certifications to be a SaaS vendor. "We had to test the product in every possible geography and industry, especially the most conservative ones. We feel we are ready for primetime now.”
Facebook is offering businesses a unique pricing model for Workplace, charging $3 per person for the first 1,000 active users, which will drop to $2 for the second round of 1,000 users and $1 for the third and beyond. Where the model differs from other enterprise communication services is active users calculations, which carry over from Facebook's flagship platform, and an active user will be classified as someone who opens and uses Workplace at least once a month. Facebook’s rates are also notably lower than competition like Slack, which offers only two pricing tiers at $8 and $15, so the new service might provide some tight competition on the market.