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Meta Is Shuttering Workplace, Its Enterprise Version of Facebook (yahoo.com)
131 points by marban 4 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 117 comments

I really liked this product (used when working at Meta). What I found interesting is that it's very similar to Facebook, but it optimizes for the opposite values. While Facebook newsfeed seems to try to maximize your time scrolling, watching ads, clicking, useless notifications; Workplace was continuously suggesting changes to maximize productivity, such as "you have not interacted with this type of notifications, stop receiving them" or "this group doesn't seem interesting to you, unfollow group" or even "set a productivity block to stop receiving notifications".

Same company, probably same underlying codebase and structure, but opposite reward optimization for showing items in the news feed and maximize productivity/time spend on feed.

> Workplace was continuously suggesting changes to maximize productivity

It doesn't. It's the same auto generated timeline where the latest news will be buried under the random updated form three months ago just because the engagement on it was higher.

The rest of the controls are nice, but it's the absolute minimum they did, so I don't see why we should congratulate them for that.

Edit: Forgot the most annoying anti-feature: email notifications. Instead of sending the full text of the post you might be interested in, the email will contain three words and a link to click. Because at Facebook engagement will always trump anything useful.

I've used it at a previous job, the email not containing content was a great feature for when people (inevitably) needed to retract something. That's all I ever took it for - super easy to turn those off and just use in-app messages.

> a great feature for when people (inevitably) needed to retract something.

Ah yes. Because that's a significantly more important and more often used feature than actually reading the content

That speaks volumes about how they value their devs as opposed to their users, and frankly doesn't surprise me. They don't have any interest in hacking the brains of their employees . . . or perhaps they do, but in a different direction.

Speaking what might be obvious, but I would love a social media experience optimized in a similar way to this: Least amount of time & attention spent on the platform while facilitating the most in-human contact.

So far, no one has figured out a business model for that that works, unfortunately.

They optimize for their customer base.

Which are advertisers.

I'll be impressed when it recommends you logout.

I rolled this out when it was "Facebook at Work" at an education non-profit I was working at in Cambodia. It was generally successful and useful for doing the type on internal storytelling we were trying to do. Particularly because teachers and staff didn't have, need or want Slack.

It was loads better than Google+, which we had tried before.

These days I suspect things like Slack started to take over here, but for that particular time and place it was a great fit.

teams is taking this space over more than slack. think HN bubble might not realize how much teams is crushing slack right now

Teams is bundleware, people don't use it because they want to, but because it was delivered by the IT contracts for microsoft products and is hard to un-bundle (until the EU stepped in and they are now making it optional).

I suspected that MS will play some pricing tactics to make this uneventful. A search turned up:

> First, beginning October 1, 2023, we will unbundle Teams from our Microsoft 365 and Office 365 suites in the EEA and Switzerland. We will instead simply sell these offerings without Teams at a lower price (€2 less per month or €24 per year).

For any company already using MS/Office 365, €2 is pretty low but with Slack at $7.25 USD it still seems viable.

I've never used (or even seen) Teams, but I've seen the userbase graphs. Teams is killing it.

Kinda like how Apple Mail is the most popular email client. I've literally never used it and don't know anyone who does. And yet...

I know people use it because Apple Mail generates out-of-office responses to mailing list mail (with List-Id: headers and other indicators).

If we're counting the mobile version probably everyone you know uses it.

really? literally every single person i know uses native gmail app or outlook

I use native Mail app for my gmail and yahoo accounts. Otherwise I'd have to use two apps in place of one app.

And Outlook for work, because that's what's allowed. And Slack; we don't use Teams.

my friends with yahoo use gmail client, i'm not sure how they do it

The GMail app supports IMAP because they merged the AOSP Mail client into it a couple of years ago.

Your theory is that most people who have iPhones do not actually connect their email addresses to the native mail application?

not only do most people not have iphones, but my theory is that to count as a user you have to actually use it to send or read your emails

> to count as a user you have to actually use it to send or read your emails

Yeah that's my definition as well. Pretty sure almost everyone who has an iPhone does that, at least now and then

personally i'm signed out on Mail on all my iDevices, seems to be true of most of my peers as well

Data point of one: I have never set up email on my iPhone. I very rarely read email on my phone, and I use Safari/webmail when the need arises.

So when you want to use email on your phone you first open a web browser, then navigate and sign in to your email service? I don't know anyone who does that, do you get some benefits from doing it that way (if i understood correctly)?

I will say, i use Firefox for YouTube rather than the native app, but only because Firefox extensions _infinitely_ improve the browsing and viewing experience (ad blocker, distraction blockers, subscription grouping and sorting, automatic resolution selection).

I do this on a couple of devices where I'm not logged into accounts at the device level, so app stores are not always available. I end up using the browser for most things, and it works great. The browser saves my sign-ins, and I bookmark sites like apps to make them easy to access. Works really well, dodges all the weird app stuff (app store exclusivity, permissions, app upgrades, etc.). This is all Android though, so I can add all my browser add-ons that make the web usable, which helps the overall experience tremendously.

Yes, that's what I do.

I guess there's no real benefit, I just mainly didn't want to create an email account with Apple, or connect my existing email to Apple's mothership.

frankly i don't believe Apple Mail is the most popular email client, while i do believe Teams is most popular work chat app

Teams is utter crap. People only use it because their IT departments tell them they have to. It’s like anti-virus and about as useful.

Agreed. I am required to use Teams at my day job, and it feels like a rushed product from a soulless company--because that's exactly what it is.

Why would that matter? Certainly, important to know the why, but more important is the outcome. "Who are you selling to?" and "Who has the spend/budget?" are most important. Tragic, for sure.

If Teams is problematic enough, and enough upper-middle folks who have to use it are unhappy and want more productive tools, the guys with the spending power may decide otherwise. Salaries are a far bigger expense than chat software licenses; wasting 1% of time of 50 highest-paid employees would tip the scale on numbers alone.

And yet, it's better than the alternatives. It replaced Cisco Jabber at my workplace.

It isnt. Slack is better. Google meet is better. Even Zoom is better and their approach to UX design is randomization.

> It isn't. Slack is better.

"You don't get it Steve, that doesn't matter." [1]

That actually does not matter if Teams is making larger progress than Slack. I prefer Slack over Teams too, but to disregard the market force and market position of Teams is naive.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFcb-XF1RPQ

I don’t disregard its market position. I just don’t have anything to say about it.

Sure, I prefer Slack to Teams, but I'd take almost anything over Jabber, and Slack was never a real option.

Smart move for Slack’s owners to sell when they did.

Slack feels a bit different than a social platform.

Organizing chat in different ways is still chat. And it's stretching chat a great deal in some use cases.

Much like a social feed is still a social feed.

I tried Muddy recently and it feels like a genuine step forward in distributed collaboration.

For anyone like me who are about to start trying to figure out what Muddy is, it seems to be this thing:

- Show HN: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=40309342

- homepage: https://www.feelmuddy.com/

Thanks! I forgot to include a link.

> It was loads better than Google+, which we had tried before.

Most platforms were objectively better than Google+, but it's original implementation (with the drag-able 'Circles') will always be the most missed social network, in my view.

It's transition to small-business focus and then eventual shuttering will always be, in my opinion, the loss of the only truly whimsical social network by a large company. (Path was equally awesome, but the web version basically never rolled out and it died a sad death as well.)

Nothing wrong with syndication.

You're confusing it for blogspam.

Why not? If its syndicated bloomberg still gets paid and I don't need to pay for their paywall.

Hacker News is owned by the same general class of people who get paid when you pay for paywalls.

Exactly why I avoid paying paywalls, these folks are rich enough and I am not.

This comment is genuinely confusing to me. I think the people who get paid when you pay for paywalls are largely media companies and content creators. I think the owners of HN are, broadly speaking, investors. I think these are two different groups, and I don't understand the equivalence you're drawing.

Who do you think owns media companies? Investors, broadly speaking.

Maybe if you zoom out really far. But they're not getting paid if you subscribe to Substack or the New York Times, at least not in a way that is more meaningful than investors getting paid when you buy an apple at the grocery store, or rent a hotel room, or pay your phone bill. What' the difference, and why draw the line at paying for news articles and not something else?

They also get paid when you send traffic to free, ad-supported sites full of trackers.

I’m not sure what your point is.

Oh Workplace. Where HR types were sending messages that would not lead to any notification via e-mail or phone while everybody useful was on Slack. No I didn't get your message.

It looked fairly competent and unobtrusive the few times I did use it though. I mean some people are forced to use Teams. Got to respect that.

Trying to find anything within Workplace was an exercise in futility. Half the time, the content was just not indexed/searchable and the other half it was something that you were tagged in but didn't have permission to access.

HR teams fascinate me.

My entire company aside from HR uses Notion for all of our documentation. Even our Legal team uses it to interact with Engineering. "Are we allowed to buy this software, contact, yadda yadda."

If you have an HR question? Directly DM someone in HR or ask in their public slack channel.

No living documentation anywhere.

The same questions asked over and over again in their slack channel. And most of the time the question winds up going to DMs after initially being asked in Slack, so then nobody else sees what the answer is (assuming not a private matter, of course).

HR is not there to answer your questions, it's there to answer questions about you. Their mere presence to you is a facade.

> Workplace will be phased out over the next two years and will remain operational until the end of August 2025 > Workplace had as many as 7 million total paying subscribers in May 2021.

This is a suprisingly short period of time to shutter a paid service used by a large number of enterprises (and have them migrate to some other system and potentially lose data in the process).

Yeah, the issue with trillion dollar scale companies is that they're already on at the extreme end of the diminishing returns curve.

At its current subscription price, Workplace was bringing in $28 million in revenue. Not bad for me and you, but just 0.0025% of Meta's cap. Crazy.

> 0.0025% of Meta's cap

Surely yearly revenue would be more interesting here—presumably pretty much any financial metric you can select in a given year will be dwarfed by market cap.

Yes and yes.

and that revenue only supports ~100 eng salaries. I wonder how many were working on workplace

The $28M is monthly revenue.

meta doesn't have any other enterprise products, so they don't give a shit about them.

For those not familiar this was actually a pretty impressive product. It's what Facebook used internally for employee communication and engagement. They might not have it in their DNA to run a HR-focused SaaS startup within the organization but if you're just familiar with the headlines alone, this thing was actually much more robust of a tool and product than you would guess without looking into it.

Meta is becoming more like Google in it's wide ranging products in disparate markets and ultimately shutting them down one by one. Unlike Google they seem to be more focused and therefore it's good to see the shuttering of Workplace given it's not a strong contender in it's market.

For most large businesses in order to move the needle they need to be making really large bets in a few really large markets to keep growth. A Slack alternative would never move the needle for them, given the most successful (Slack) sold at the top of the market for a "large" amount of money, which was $28B (only ~2% of Meta's market cap today).

I still find it incredible that innovation at Meta and Alphabet is so bad that they haven't built a highly profitable product at either company in their entire histories. They've only ever hit home runs with ad businesses.

I could write a book about large dysfunctional organizations. Organization’s goal is less important than the goals of influential individuals. And then wild things happen. We will never know what brilliant world changing or good business ideas were buried in the very early stage. It is hard to believe for me from statistics perspective, “that they haven’t built a highly profitable product”.

Edit: because I know some brilliant people from these companies starting really innovative businesses in the past right after quitting these big companies.

Your comment resonates with my experience -- often an idea devoid of substance will materialize from the ground up, and have 10^7 USD poured into it, all because an exec said one day "hey, it would be cool if we had a product that did insert-superficially-cool-gimmick-here" (said product might already exist, or have terrible !/$ or require massive patience to bring any returns, but it's all irrelevant, because an influential individual suggested it).

If you're willing to share some anecdotes, I'd love to read and commiserate.

if your opinion of the most profitable companies of the past 20 years with some of the most widely adopted products in the world is that they are not innovative or able to build profitable products, maybe your definition of profitability, innovation, and product development is a bit off

I've heard before that Google has never created a useful product, period - all the Google products that are worth using - Android, Gmail, formerly Search, ads (for advertisers), Reader - were acquisitions.

i feel like these comments are motivated by anti-tech animus more than the facts.

who did Google acquire gmail from? who did Google acquire Search from?

I think it goes to my earlier point that they're so massive now that they need to ship huge bets to move the needle even a little bit. Gmail and Search both are valid, but to an earlier point are now decades old. Both of these businesses have used inorganic growth for their needle movers - the acquisitions that changed the game for them: Meta was Whatsapp and Instagram; Google was Youtube and DoubleClick.

Search isn't profitable. Their ad business is, and both of those together are their original product. What big successes have they built since?

Gmail is widely used, but is it profitable? Last I checked, their office suite and cloud business were rolled into a single item in their 10K, so it was impossible to tell.

1. I was responding to parent who said all of these products were acquisitions.

2. Big difference between not being profitable and not being able to tell if it is profitable because they do not split their earnings finely. My guess is Pixel is profitable

I actually really liked the product when I worked at Meta. Wish we had something like this at Google.

I'm at Meta, I like using it for the most part. The chat could be improved upon but overall I really like having Facebook-like Groups and I don't think any other platform has something like that.

We use it at work, and I really like it - it's a fairly simple product.

The only thing that seemed odd, is development on 'Work Chat' was significantly behind Facebook Messenger.

A shame really. It was clean and useful.

Groups is great but chat isn’t so good. I’m not sure it made sense to have both together.

This is such a shame. I have missed Workplace ever since I left my job at Facebook and even tried to influence my current company to adopt it...

It truly comes really close to eliminating the need for emails without sacrificing you learning about what's going on at the company. Important announcements just get shown to you via the news feed and it works so well.

The startup I work at used Workplace when I joined. It's been a few years since we transitioned to Slack (and we now use Discord) but I remember Workplace being a royal pain. Team members would routinely not get messages sent via DM, requiring a hard reload of the app to get them. It was not uncommon for folks to send a message, and if no response 5 minutes later, send a text to that person asking if they received that message. Stuff like this is pretty unacceptable for an app intended for use at the enterprise level. And we were just a team of ~10.

How did this compare to Yammer? (“Viva Engage”, if we let the PMs have their way)

Thinking of Yammer makes me shiver... I never understood what it was supposed to be.

It is "the other social network" where our colleagues from certain other countries can share their inspirational quotes, certifications, work anniversaries etc without messing up Teams, Slack or Workplace for the rest of us.

That's my understanding at least.

(Yes, we use all of these at work.)

There's a country for MBAs??

Not in Norway ;-)

It was designed to give David Sacks something to talk about at parties presumably.

The idea of having a “work social life” is abhorrent to me.

Call me if you need me, email me if you don’t.

Are calls and emails not social interactions?

Sounds like you have a digitally mediated social life at work, you’re just choosing to use 1980s technologies.

Social interaction is obviously inherent to work.

What I don’t like is having to maintain social media inside work.

No they're for professional interaction. I don't go on calls and send emails to discuss social aspects of life. I do it to get the job done.

Workplace was never about “work social life”

I'm legitimately confused why anyone would log on to it if not to use it like social media

Do you genuinely think that reflects most people’s views about work life?

I don’t know. What I don’t need is a virtual place where I pretend to be excited about the company, my coworkers or my boss.

Not a fan or a user of Workplace but I do not understand the reason of shutting it down to external customers if it is going to be used internally for Meta workers anyways? I mean Meta can keep it available if customers want to use it without doing massive marketing, sales or support. Can someone help explain what kind of cost savings Meta can have by shutting it down for external customers?

Used to work on Workplace a while ago, not at Meta anymore. What Meta needs to prioritize for themselves is very different from what they need to prioritize in order to compete with Slack, Teams, Zoom, etc. This is also not a product that sells or supports itself.

External customers require extra sales, support, ops, eng building specific features, etc

Internal support can be much more limited and targeted.

Consider cooking your family dinner vs running a restaurant.

Who would seriously trust Facebook/Meta with any internal proprietary data?

I'm sure the product must be OK but they did this to themselves by completely disregarding basic privacy.

I think the market is just too small to bother with.

Bit off topic but I think there is lots of potential for corporate use of WhatsApp as a way of onboarding new employees and as an backup channel when other systems (like teams) fail. It could be a mix of bots, HR and other employees. Something that is better than phone/sms but lighter than the full corporate system.

The best Workplace instance was FBAnon — RIP

It was being planned and talked about internally in ~2010. They had this idea that because everyone knew how to use Facebook and they already had your data, why not provide an HRIS system built around that.

It was an expensive service. Not sure who in their right mind would have used it. Not to mention, it was not linked to Facebook and that was the biggest missed opportunity.

Not linking it to public FB was a decision because most people don't want their work and personal lives mixed.

I didn't say that, but connecting with coworkers with their accounts would have been nice. It's a social network, after all!

Nothing stops you

Searching for them how? By name? I'm talking about an unambiguous interface. Also, job verification by being a member of a workplace, etc.

In the past, TheFacebook had similar features about colleges, work, then they got rid of those - not sure why. And then they launched a separate product, which was doomed since launched.

Yes, that’s exactly how you do it. That’s the exact process I everyone uses to find someone on facebook. Since you supposedly are in regular contact with these people, you can even ask them, “Is this you?” if for some reason you can’t identify their profile.

This is literally how everyone finds anyone on Facebook and every other social network.

False! Possibly 90% of people find their friends via the mobile app, which scans their phone contacts and suggests people they might know. Names are not unique, plus there are lots of fake profiles and impersonations - so far, after I've reported hundreds if not thousands, Facebook has never taken down a single phony account I've reported! Many click farms create fake profiles using the same names and existing photos! We used to be able to search by phone number and email, but that option is no longer available. Most of my friends have several profiles because people forget their passwords or get locked out by Facebook's ridiculous policies, so they create new profiles (I have two backup profiles myself as I manage several nonprofit Facebook pages, and when I get punished personally by Facebook, they also punish the community pages I manage). Many of my more active friends have at least one backup Facebook profile in case Facebook puts them in the like/comment jail for some time. The ridiculous thing is having a small nonprofit, which has been verified by Facebook, which has just one admin, and that nonprofit, which is not a personal entity, gets punished by being unable to live stream, for example, while this entity has no violations! But that's how Facebook inflates the number of its users, I guess.

To their credit, they seem to have used it extensively internally.

For free.

This makes me sad. I loved Workplace, it was a great productivity tool for program/product mgt when I was at Meta.

7M users * $4 / user / month * 12 Months / Year = $338M ARR. Not interesting for Facebook.

7m was the peak so maybe it went down as well?

I'm sure the churn rate is pretty high. But slack supposedly had ~5M users and ~$300M in revenue when it was bought by Salesforce for $27B

i still can't believe this is a real product they were able to get companies to pay for

lol seeya, really disliked using this product at work

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