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Facebook’s business collaboration app reaches 5 million paid users, but still lags behind Microsoft and Slack

The founder and CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg speaks during the 56th Munich Security Conference in Munich, southern Germany, on February 15, 2020.

Christof Stache | AFP | Getty Images

Facebook announced Thursday that its Workplace enterprise software has now reached 5 million paid users, up from 3 million in October. 

The company also announced some new features for the communications product, saying that interest in Workplace has increased as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Covid changed and accelerated everything for us,” Workplace Vice President Julien Codorniou told CNBC. “What was supposed to happen in five years just happened in two months.”

Workplace is a key part of Facebook’s long-term strategy to diversify its revenue, along with the Oculus virtual reality headsets and Portal video-calling devices. The company’s “other revenue” segment, which includes Workplace, Oculus and Portal, accounted for nearly 2% of all revenue during Facebook’s first quarter of 2020, up from a little more than 1% a year earlier, the company said in its quarterly earnings report.

“Workplace is the foundation … that teams like Oculus for Business and Portal can use or leverage as they go into the enterprise,” Codorniou said. 

Workplace’s growth appears to be slower than that of its rivals in the enterprise communications software market, although the comparisons are not exact.

Microsoft Teams, for example, now has more than 75 million daily active users, up from 44 million in mid-March, the company said in its third-quarter earnings in late April. Zoom, meanwhile, has grown its daily active participants metric from 10 million in December to 300 million as of late April. And Slack has seen its concurrent users go from 10 million in early March to 12.5 million in late March, the company announced.

Headlining Workplace’s new features is Workplace Rooms, a video-calling feature that allows customers to host calls with up to 50 people in them. Workplace Rooms is based on the same technology behind the Facebook Rooms consumer product that was announced last month

Facebook also announced improvements for Workplace’s live streaming features and the ability to use Portal TV for Workplace video calls. 

Facebook also said Thursday that its Oculus for Business service, which was announced in May 2019, is now launching out of closed beta. Oculus for Business allows companies’ IT departments to deploy and configure numerous Oculus virtual reality headsets at once. 

“VR is a new type of computer,” Facebook Enterprise AR/VR director Maria Fernandez Guajardo told CNBC. “It’s really a device where you can do all the computing of your life from social to entertainment to work.”

Facebook has been on a tear, releasing numerous new features since mid-March, catering to the nearly 3 billion people who have ramped up their usage of the social network’s various services amid shelter-in-place orders. Earlier this week, the company announced Facebook Shops, which makes it easier for small businesses to upload their product catalogs onto Facebook and Instagram. 

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