Stewart Butterfield

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Stewart Butterfield
Stewart Butterfield in 2017
Dharma Jeremy Butterfield

(1973-03-21) March 21, 1973 (age 50)
Alma materUniversity of Victoria (1996)
Clare College, Cambridge (1998)
Occupation(s)Entrepreneur and businessman
Known forCo-founder of Flickr
Founder of Slack
TitleFormer CEO of Slack
(m. 2001; div. 2007)
Children1 daughter

Daniel Stewart Butterfield (born Dharma Jeremy Butterfield;[1] March 21, 1973[2]) is a Canadian billionaire businessman, best known for co-founding the photo-sharing website Flickr and the team-messaging application Slack.

Early life and education[edit]

In 1973, Butterfield was born in Lund, British Columbia, to Norma and David Butterfield.[3] For the first five years of his life he grew up in a log cabin without running water or electricity. His family lived on a commune in remote Canada after his father fled the US to avoid being drafted for the Vietnam War.[4][5] His family moved to Victoria when Butterfield was five years old.[5] As a child, Butterfield taught himself how to code, and 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.[5] He received a B.A. degree in philosophy from the University of Victoria in 1996 and went on to earn a Master of Philosophy from Clare College, Cambridge in 1998.[7]


In 2000, Butterfield worked with Jason Classon to build a startup called[5][8] Following's acquisition, he worked as a freelance web designer. Butterfield also created a contest called the 5K competition, centered on people with the ability to design websites under 5 kilobytes.[5]

Ludicorp and Flickr[edit]

In the summer of 2002, he co-founded Ludicorp with Caterina Fake and Jason Classon in Vancouver.[7] Ludicorp initially developed a massively multiplayer online role-playing game called Game Neverending. After the game failed to launch, the company 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.[9][1]

Tiny Speck[edit]

In 2009, Butterfield co-founded a new company called Tiny Speck.[10] Tiny Speck launched its first project, the massively multiplayer game Glitch, on September 27, 2011.[11] 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 website remained online.[12][13] In January 2013, the company announced that it would make the most of the game's art available under a Creative Commons license.[14] On December 9, 2014, a fan project to relaunch Glitch under the name Eleven began alpha testing.[15][better source needed]


In August 2013, Butterfield announced the release of Slack, an instant-message-based team communication tool, built by Tiny Speck while working on Glitch.[16][17] 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. In early 2014, the data for Slack's first six-month usage period showed that nearly 16,000 users were registered without any advertising.[18][19][better source needed]

That same year, Butterfield secured an office for Slack employees in San Francisco, and was expected to commence recruitment during the second half of the year.[18]

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.[20]

Slack was named Inc. Magazine’s 2015 company of the year.[21]

In June 2019, the company announced its initial public offering with an opening price of $38.50 and a market capitalization of US$21.4 billion.[22][23]

In December 2020, Salesforce confirmed plans to buy Slack Technologies for US$27.7 billion.[24]

In December 2022, Butterfield announced his departure as CEO of Slack and left Salesforce early in January 2023.[25]

Awards and honors[edit]

In 2005, Butterfield was named one of Businessweek's "Top 50" Leaders[26] 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.[27][28] In 2006, he was named in the "Time 100", Time magazine's list of the 100 most influential people in the world,[29] and also appeared on the cover of Newsweek magazine.[30][31]

In November 2008, Butterfield received the "Legacy Distinguished Alumni Award" from the University of Victoria.[32]

In 2015, Stewart was named the Wall Street Journal's Technology Innovator for 2015,[33] awarded TechCrunch’s Founder of the Year Crunchie,[34] and included in Vanity Fair’s New Establishment,[35] Advertising Age’s Creative 50,[36] and Details’ Digital Mavericks lists.[37]

In May 2017, he featured in Masters of Scale, a podcast series by Reid Hoffman, co-founder of Linkedin, along with other successful businesspeople such as Mark Zuckerberg, John Elkann, and Brian Chesky. In it, he discussed the scaling strategy adopted by Slack.[38]

Personal life[edit]

Butterfield was married to Caterina Fake, his Flickr co-founder, from 2001[39] to 2007.[40] They have one daughter together, who was born in 2007.[41] In May 2019 he became engaged to Jennifer Rubio, co-founder of Away Luggage.[42]


  1. ^ a b Honan, Mat (August 7, 2014). "The Most Fascinating Profile You'll Ever Read About a Guy and His Boring Startup". Wired. Archived from the original on 6 December 2016. Retrieved September 3, 2016.
  2. ^ Neil Kandalgaonkar [@NeilKNet] (2016-03-21). "@stewart Happy birthday. Please keep being yourself as long as you like!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  3. ^ Kosoff, Maya (2 September 2015). "14 Surprising Facts About Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield". Retrieved 19 February 2016.
  4. ^ "The $5bn tech boss who grew up without electricity". Daniel Thomas. BBC News. 25 June 2018. Retrieved 27 June 2018.
  5. ^ 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.
  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. ^ a b Kosoff, Maya (2015-09-02). "14 Surprising Facts About Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield". Retrieved 2020-01-23.
  8. ^ Livingston, Jessica (2009). Founders at Work: Stories of Startups' Early Days. Apress. p. 257. ISBN 978-1430210788.
  9. ^ Arrington, Michael (June 17, 2008). "Flickr Co-founders Join Mass Exodus From Yahoo". TechCrunch.
  10. ^ Swisher, Kara (August 23, 2010). "Flickr Co-Founder Butterfield Talks About His New Game Start-Up, Glitch". AllThingsD. Retrieved September 17, 2010.
  11. ^ "Stewart Butterfield: The big pivot". WaitWhat. Retrieved 2018-03-20.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ "Vancouver's Tiny Speck puts massively multiplayer game Glitch online". Vancouver Sun. September 27, 2011. Archived from the original on September 29, 2011. Retrieved September 30, 2011.
  14. ^ Gera, Emily (January 24, 2013). "Glitch developer shares assets under Creative Commons license following closure of game". Polygon. Retrieved March 4, 2013.
  15. ^ "'Two Years Past' or 'Welcome Home'". The Eleven Project. Retrieved 11 January 2015.
  16. ^ Tam, Donna (August 14, 2013). "Flickr founder plans to kill company e-mails with Slack". CNET. Retrieved November 26, 2013.
  17. ^ Thomas, Owen (August 14, 2013). "Die, Email, Die! A Flickr Cofounder Aims To Cut Us All Some Slack". ReadWrite. Retrieved November 26, 2013.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ "Slack vs. Email: The Case for RTC for Enterprise IT". IT Pro. 2019-03-31. Retrieved 2020-01-30.
  20. ^ Gage, Deborah (December 15, 2015). "Slack Raises $80 Million Fund to Support Platform Strategy". Wall Street Journal. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved January 27, 2016.
  21. ^ 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.
  22. ^ "What's Next for Slack Now That It's Public". Fortune. Retrieved 2019-08-29.
  23. ^ Griffith, Erin (2019-06-20). "Slack Stock Soars, Putting Company's Public Value at $19.5 Billion". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-01-30.
  24. ^ Tilley, Aaron (2020-12-02). "Salesforce Confirms Deal to Buy Slack for $27.7 Billion". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2020-12-02.
  25. ^ Primack, Dan; Fried, Ina (December 5, 2022). "Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield is leaving Salesforce". Axios.
  26. ^ "2005 Top Leaders: Entrepreneurs". Businessweek. 2005. Archived from the original on December 17, 2005.
  27. ^ "2005 Young Innovators Under 35". Technology Review. 2005. Retrieved August 15, 2011.
  28. ^ "TR35 2005". Technology Review. 2005.
  29. ^ "2006 Time 100". Time. 2006. Archived from the original on May 2, 2006.
  30. ^ "Flickr on the cover of Newsweek". Niall Kennedy. March 27, 2006.
  31. ^ Levy, Steven (April 2, 2006). "The New Wisdom of the Web". Newsweek.
  32. ^ "Flickr co-founder makes it big with an arts degree". Times Colonist. November 26, 2008. Archived from the original on May 20, 2009. Retrieved February 13, 2009. Alt URL
  33. ^ Stevenson, Seth (November 5, 2015). "Stewart Butterfield, Email Killer". Wall Street Journal. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved January 27, 2016.
  34. ^ Kumparak, Greg (February 5, 2015). "Slack's Co-Founders Take Home The Crunchie For Founder Of The Year". TechCrunch. TechCrunch. Retrieved January 27, 2016.
  35. ^ Bilton, Nick (September 30, 2015). "New Establishment List 2015". Vanity Fair. Vanity Fair. Retrieved January 27, 2016.
  36. ^ Peterson, Tim (December 21, 2015). "Creativity 50 2015: Stewart Butterfield". Advertising Age. Advertising Age. Retrieved January 27, 2016.
  37. ^ Angio, Joe (April 7, 2015). "Digital Mavericks 2015". Details Magazine. Details Magazine. Retrieved January 27, 2016.
  38. ^ "Master of Scale - Stewart Butterfield".
  39. ^ Chatterjee, Pia (12 Sep 2007). "Love, e-company style". Business 2.0 Magazine. CNN Money. Archived from the original on 16 July 2012.
  40. ^ Leonard, Devin (28 Jul 2010). "What You Want: Flickr Creator Spins Addictive New Web Service". Wired. Archived from the original on 11 April 2014. Retrieved 31 Jul 2010.
  41. ^ Thomas, Owen (12 Jul 2007). "Silicon Valley's baby boom". Gawker. Archived from the original on 21 July 2012.
  42. ^ Perino, Marissa. "Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield is newly engaged to a woman who runs a $1.4 billion startup. Inside the relationship of Silicon Valley's newest 'it' power couple". Business Insider. Archived from the original on 23 March 2021.

Further reading[edit]