Stewart Butterfield

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Stewart Butterfield
Stewart b.jpg
Stewart Butterfield in 2006
Dharma Jeremy Butterfield

1973 (age 45–46)
Alma materUniversity of Victoria (1996)
Clare College, Cambridge (1998)
OccupationEntrepreneur and businessman
Known forCo-founder of Flickr
Founder of Slack
Net worthIncrease US$1.69 billion
Spouse(s)Caterina Fake (2001–2007)

Daniel Stewart Butterfield (born Dharma Jeremy Butterfield;[1] 1973) is a Canadian entrepreneur and businessman, best known for being a co-founder of the photo-sharing website Flickr and team-messaging application Slack.

Early life and education[edit]

Butterfield was born in Lund, British Columbia, in 1973 to Norma and David Butterfield[2] and grew up for the first three years of his life in a log cabin without running water while living in a commune in remote Canada as his father had fled the USA to avoid being drafted for the Vietnam War.[3][4] Butterfield's grandfather came from Poland to Canada at age 17 at interwar period.[5] His family moved to Victoria when Butterfield was five years old.[4] As a child, Butterfield taught himself how to code; he also changed his name to Stewart when he was 12.[6]

Butterfield was educated at St. Michaels University School in Victoria, British Columbia and made money in university designing websites.[4] He received a B.A. degree in philosophy from the University of Victoria in 1996.[7] Butterfield went on to earn a Master of Philosophy from Clare College, Cambridge in 1998, where he specialized in the philosophy of biology, cognitive science, and the philosophy of mind.

His time in university coincided with the birth of the World Wide Web; his online entrée was through his passion for jam bands, and more specifically, the Vermont band Phish to access,[8] one of the first usenet newsgroups.[9]


In 2000, Butterfield worked with a friend to build a startup called[4] Following's acquisition, he worked as a freelance web designer. Butterfield also created a contest called the 5K competition centered around people designing websites under 5 kilobytes.[4]

Ludicorp and Flickr[edit]

In the summer of 2002, he co-founded Ludicorp in Vancouver with Caterina Fake and Jason Classon.[10][11] Ludicorp initially developed a massively multiplayer online role-playing game called Game Neverending. The game did not launch, but the company then started a photo-sharing website called Flickr. In March 2005 Ludicorp was acquired by Yahoo!, where Butterfield continued as the General Manager of Flickr until he left Yahoo on July 12, 2008.[12][13]

Tiny Speck[edit]

In 2009 Butterfield cofounded a new company called Tiny Speck.[14] Tiny Speck launched its first project, the massively multiplayer game Glitch, on September 27, 2011, having raised $17.5 million in funding.[15] Glitch was later closed due to its failure to attract a sufficiently large audience. The game world closed down on December 9, 2012, but the web site, with most of the content, remained online.[16][17] In January 2013, it was announced that the company would make most of the game's art available under a Creative Commons license.[18][19] On December 9, 2014, a fan project to relaunch Glitch under the name Eleven began alpha testing.[20]


In August 2013, Butterfield announced the release of Slack, an instant-message-based team communication tool built by Tiny Speck while working on Glitch.[21][22] After its public release in February 2014, the tool grew at a weekly rate of 5 to 10 percent, with more than 120,000 daily users registered in the first week of August 2014. As of August 2014, Slack had garnered US$1.5 million in revenue and raised US$60 million in venture capital. In early 2014, the data for Slack's first six-month usage period since the preview release was published, showing that nearly 16,000 users were registered without the use of any form of advertising—growth was based solely upon word-of-mouth.[23][24]

Butterfield secured an office for Slack employees in San Francisco in 2014 and was expected to commence recruitment during the second half of the year.[23]

As of December 2015, Slack had raised US$340 million in venture capital and had more than 2 million daily active users, of which 570,000 were paid customers.[25]

Slack was named Inc. Magazine’s 2015 company of the year.[26]

In June 2019, the company announced its initial public offering with an opening day of $38.50.[27]

Awards and honors[edit]

In 2005, Butterfield was named one of Businessweek's "Top 50" Leaders[28] in the entrepreneur category. In the same year, he was also named in the TR35, a list collated by MIT in its MIT Technology Review publication, as one of the top 35 innovators in the world under the age of 35 years.[29][30] In 2006, he was named in the "Time 100", Time magazine's list of the 100 most influential people in the world,[31] and also appeared on the cover of Newsweek magazine.[32][33]

In November 2008, Butterfield received the "Legacy Distinguished Alumni Award" from the University of Victoria.[34]

In 2015, Stewart was named the Wall Street Journal's Technology Innovator for 2015,[35] awarded TechCrunch’s Founder of the Year Crunchie,[36] and included in Vanity Fair’s New Establishment,[37] Advertising Age’s Creative 50,[38] and Details’ Digital Mavericks lists.[39]

In May 2017, he featured in Masters of Scale, a podcast series by Reid Hoffman, co-founder of Linkedin, along with other successful businessmen such as Mark Zuckerberg, John Elkann, and Brian Chesky. In it, he discussed the scaling strategy adopted by Slack.[40]

Personal life[edit]

Butterfield was married to Caterina Fake, his Flickr co-founder, from 2001[41] to 2007.[42] They have one daughter together, who was born in 2007.[43] In May 2019 he became engaged to Jennifer Rubio, co-founder of Away Luggage.[44]


  1. ^ "The Most Fascinating Profile You'll Ever Read About a Guy and His Boring Startup". Wired. August 7, 2014. Retrieved September 3, 2016.
  2. ^ Kosoff, Maya (2 September 2015). "14 Surprising Facts About Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield". Retrieved 19 February 2016.
  3. ^ "The $5bn tech boss who grew up without electricity". Daniel Thomas. BBC News. 25 June 2018. Retrieved 27 June 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e Kosoff, Maya (September 1, 2015). "The amazing life of Stewart Butterfield, the CEO of one of the fastest-growing business apps ever". Business Insider. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
  5. ^ Butterfield, Steward (Jan 28, 2017). "My grandfather came from Poland between the wars, at 17". Twitter.
  6. ^ Schrodt, Paul (February 7, 2019). "The Man Behind Silicon Valley's Next Big IPO Grew Up on a Commune Without Running Water or Electricity". Retrieved April 3, 2019.
  7. ^ "Flickr Co-Founder Among UVic Legacy Awards Recipients" (Press release). University of Victoria. November 17, 2008.
  8. ^ Honan, Mat. "The Most Fascinating Profile You'll Ever Read About a Guy and His Boring Startup". WIRED. Retrieved 2018-05-04.
  9. ^ "FAQ -". Retrieved 2018-05-04.
  10. ^ Livingston, Jessica (2008). Founders at Work: Stories of Startups' Early Days. Apress. p. 257.
  11. ^ "The Ludicorp Team". Ludicorp. Ludicorp Research & Development Ltd. Archived from the original on October 26, 2003.
  12. ^ Arrington, Michael (June 17, 2008). "Flickr Co-founders Join Mass Exodus From Yahoo". TechCrunch.
  13. ^ Butterfield's creative resignation letter addressed to Brad Garlinghouse.
  14. ^ Swisher, Kara (August 23, 2010). "Flickr Co-Founder Butterfield Talks About His New Game Start-Up, Glitch". AllThingsD. Retrieved September 17, 2010.
  15. ^ "Stewart Butterfield: The big pivot". WaitWhat. Retrieved 2018-03-20.
  16. ^ Boyd, E.B. (September 27, 2011). "A Flickr Founder's Glitch: Can A Game That Wants You To Play Nice Be A Blockbuster?". Fast Company. Retrieved September 30, 2011.
  17. ^ "Vancouver's Tiny Speck puts massively multiplayer game Glitch online". Vancouver Sun. September 27, 2011. Retrieved September 30, 2011.
  18. ^ Beschizza, Rob (January 25, 2013). "Shuttered online game Glitch gets new life in the Creative Commons". BoingBoing. Retrieved March 4, 2013.
  19. ^ Gera, Emily (January 24, 2013). "Glitch developer shares assets under Creative Commons license following closure of game". Polygon. Retrieved March 4, 2013.
  20. ^ "'Two Years Past' or 'Welcome Home'". The Eleven Project. Retrieved 11 January 2015.
  21. ^ Tam, Donna (August 14, 2013). "Flickr founder plans to kill company e-mails with Slack". CNET. Retrieved November 26, 2013.
  22. ^ Thomas, Owen (August 14, 2013). "Die, Email, Die! A Flickr Cofounder Aims To Cut Us All Some Slack". ReadWrite. Retrieved November 26, 2013.
  23. ^ a b Mat Honan (7 July 2014). "The Most Fascinating Profile You'll Ever Read About a Guy and His Boring Startup". Wired. Condé Nast. Retrieved August 10, 2014.
  24. ^ "Marc Andreessen". Marc Andreessen on Twitter. Twitter. 9 February 2014. Archived from the original on 14 June 2014. Retrieved August 10, 2014.
  25. ^ Gage, Deborah (December 15, 2015). "Slack Raises $80 Million Fund to Support Platform Strategy". Wall Street Journal. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved January 27, 2016.
  26. ^ Bercovici, Jeff (November 23, 2015). "Slack Is Our Company of the Year. Here's Why Everybody's Talking About It". Inc. Magazine. Retrieved January 27, 2016.
  27. ^ "What's Next for Slack Now That It's Public". Fortune. Retrieved 2019-08-29.
  28. ^ "2005 Top Leaders: Entrepreneurs". Businessweek. 2005.
  29. ^ "2005 Young Innovators Under 35". Technology Review. 2005. Retrieved August 15, 2011.
  30. ^ "TR35 2005". Technology Review. 2005.
  31. ^ "2006 Time 100". Time. 2006. Archived from the original on May 2, 2006.
  32. ^ Newsweek cover image
  33. ^ Levy, Steven (April 2, 2006). "The New Wisdom of the Web". Newsweek.
  34. ^ "Flickr co-founder makes it big with an arts degree". Times Colonist. November 26, 2008. Archived from the original on November 26, 2008.
  35. ^ Stevenson, Seth (November 5, 2015). "Stewart Butterfield, Email Killer". Wall Street Journal. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved January 27, 2016.
  36. ^ Kumparak, Greg (February 5, 2015). "Slack's Co-Founders Take Home The Crunchie For Founder Of The Year". TechCrunch. TechCrunch. Retrieved January 27, 2016.
  37. ^ Bilton, Nick (September 30, 2015). "New Establishment List 2015". Vanity Fair. Vanity Fair. Retrieved January 27, 2016.
  38. ^ Peterson, Tim (December 21, 2015). "Creativity 50 2015: Stewart Butterfield". Advertising Age. Advertising Age. Retrieved January 27, 2016.
  39. ^ Angio, Joe (April 7, 2015). "Digital Mavericks 2015". Details Magazine. Details Magazine. Retrieved January 27, 2016.
  40. ^ "Master of Scale - Stewart Butterfield".
  41. ^ Chatterjee, Pia (September 12, 2007). "Love, e-company style". Business 2.0 Magazine. CNN Money.
  42. ^ Leonard, Devin (July 28, 2010). "What You Want: Flickr Creator Spins Addictive New Web Service". Wired. Retrieved July 31, 2010.
  43. ^ Thomas, Owen (July 12, 2007). "Silicon Valley's baby boom". Gawker.
  44. ^

Further reading[edit]