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‘Sign-in With Slack’ Takes on Facebook, Google, and Microsoft

Pretty soon, we may have more ways to sign into digital services than we have digital services. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but not by much.

On Tuesday, Slack, the company behind the hot corporate chat service of the same name, said users can now sign into non-Slack services using their existing Slack identities. This is something you can already do with Facebook Connect, Twitter, Google Apps Identity and Microsoft’s Azure Active Directory services.

According to an online post, people can now use Sign in with Slack to log into Quip, a document creation application. Users can then give their existing Slack team members access to Quip documents and lists. And it’s easy to convert Slack chats to Quip documents, if needed.

Five other companies Figma, Kifi, OfficeVibe, Slackline, and Smooz have also integrated their apps with Slack, the company said.

Meet Slack

The idea behind these sign-on features, which build on the OAuth authentication standard that helps make sure we are who we say we are, is to let users preserve their online identities across multiple apps and web sites.

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That means fewer passwords to remember, which most will agree is a good thing. But a not-so-great side effect is the confusing “button” proliferation on web sites and apps as Facebook (FB), Google (GOOG), Twitter (TWTR), Microsoft (MSFT) and now Slack try to get us to sign in using their own sign-in and not one from the other guys.

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All the big Internet properties are tussling for user data, and cross-vendor sign on is one way to get it. “Once you own the log-in for other apps, you achieve massive stickiness, you get insights on user behavior, and you make it easier for developers to build on your platform,” said Holger Mueller, analyst with Constellation Research, said. A “sticky” app is one that is difficult for users to leave or switch replace. “It’s no surprise that Slack is going into the single-sign on business.”

Slack lacks the huge user count of a Facebook (FB), Google (GOOG), Twitter (TWTR) or Microsoft (MSFT). Last month it claimed 800,000 paid accounts and 2.7 million daily active users, big numbers but still a drop in the bucket compared to total users in the other camps.

On the other hand, some of the bigger guys (looking at you, Facebook At Work) are struggling to gain business users. And, as Mueller points out, since Slack is a chat client, its users are logged in all the time, something that is not true for say, Yahoo. And the longer a user is logged in, the more data to be aggregated.