Now playing
02:40
How Slack changed the way we work
Screens display the Uber Technologies Inc. logo on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) during the company's IPO in New York, U.S., May 10, 2019. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
Andrew Kelly/Reuters
Screens display the Uber Technologies Inc. logo on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) during the company's IPO in New York, U.S., May 10, 2019. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
Now playing
02:56
Uber opens below IPO price in market debut
An Uber banner is displayed on the facade of the New York Stock Exchange on Friday, May 10.
Ian Berry/CNN
An Uber banner is displayed on the facade of the New York Stock Exchange on Friday, May 10.
Now playing
02:49
Uber investor: Lyft is definitely a challenger
Now playing
02:58
Pinterest CEO: Markets reward companies that grow value over time
CNN Business' Julia Chatterley speaks with Casper CEO Phillip Krim about the company's IPO plans and profitability.
CNN Business' Julia Chatterley speaks with Casper CEO Phillip Krim about the company's IPO plans and profitability.
Now playing
02:16
Casper CEO: IPO market is 'very robust'
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 31:  A Lyft driver places the Amp on his dashboard on January 31, 2017 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images for Lyft)
Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images for Lyft
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 31: A Lyft driver places the Amp on his dashboard on January 31, 2017 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images for Lyft)
Now playing
03:32
Self-driving cars are coming. But Lyft co-founder says he'll need more drivers
CNN
Now playing
03:30
Pinterest CEO: Our goal is to get you offline
Now playing
01:47
Here's how Airbnb went from air mattresses to rental empire
Now playing
02:29
Uber CEO hopes you don't own a car in 10 years
Lyft
Now playing
02:55
Lyft files for IPO
Shutterstock
Now playing
03:12
Lyft founder: Our goal is to eliminate car ownership
Now playing
00:59
Uber CEO on fixing its workplace culture problem
Now playing
01:12
Here's how Lyft became the 'friendly' rideshare app
New York CNN Business —  

In the time it took me to type this sentence about Slack, I received more than a dozen messages in a private Slack group and more posts than I can count in several team channels. I typed many words in response to those messages — some of them even borderline good words — but came no closer to completing my job for the day: writing this article about Slack.

If you don’t know what Slack is, chances are you don’t work in media or tech. Congratulations, you have probably made better life choices than I have. Most of the time, Slack is described blandly as a workplace communication tool. But that barely scratches the surface of its impact on teams, internet culture and, most importantly of all, my own damn life.

Slack is many things: an engine for collaboration and a distraction machine; a community-builder for an office and a facsimile of high school cliques; a service to streamline work and to blur the lines of your work/life balance. It is the bane of my existence and also, at times, the only salve for a stressful day.

Think of AOL Instant Messenger, but for people with jobs. Better yet, think of coworking space provider WeWork, with its promise of delivering office culture as a service. Slack does that too, but online rather than in a physical space. At a time when more people are working jobs behind screens, sometimes remotely in distributed workplaces, Slack is the new office watercooler. It is the work environment you have when you’re stuck at your desk for hours and can’t hover by the glorious office plant wall or the craft beer taps in the kitchen. (For the record: Our office has neither.)

Slack is where you welcome new employees with a procession of GIFs. It’s where companies divide themselves between channels devoted to cats and channels devoted to dogs. It’s where you find endless combinations of group chats to gossip and backchannel your own team, and then backchannel your backchannels. It’s where a company can bond with a party parrot emoji for every occasion: a coffee parrot and a beer parrot, a sad parrot and a fiesta parrot, a chill parrot and an exploding parrot.

Slack has custom emoji options such as animated "party parrots" to lighten to mood.
Slack / CNN
Slack has custom emoji options such as animated "party parrots" to lighten to mood.

And if Slack has its way, its service could soon shape your office culture, too.

The company is making its Wall Street debut on Thursday, six years after it launched and quickly became a fixture for teams at companies like IBM, Lyft and, disclosure, CNN. In a public filing, Slack said more than 10 million people were using it daily in the first three months of 2019.

“Our users, whether on a free or paid subscription plan, are highly engaged,” the company wrote in the filing. “During the week ended January 31, 2019, more than 1 billion messages were sent in Slack.” On a typical workday, Slack said users at the companies who pay for the service “averaged nine hours connected to Slack through at least one device and spent more than 90 minutes actively using Slack.”