NPR recently did an interview with Slack and Flickr creator Stewart Butterfield as part of its series on innovators and entrepreneurs. Butterfield’s drive to create forged a vision for a utopian “Burning Man” online game. He would try not once, but twice, to do this: First with Game Neverending in the early 2000s, and later on with the quirky sandbox MMORPG Glitch. But out of both of those failures, successful products came out of them, the first being Flickr and the second Slack.
“The interesting thing about Glitch was while it wasn’t successful as a business,” Butterfield said, “we were extraordinarily productive. And there was this system for internal communication that we had developed that — we didn’t think about as a thing. Like, it didn’t have a name. We never talked about it. It was just how we happened to communicate.”
While some players may dearly miss Glitch these days, it’s heartening to know that it had an impactful legacy upon the tech world. Slack is now worth $5 billion and is used worldwide — including as Massively OP’s virtual office, where Glitch game icons (like the crab!) are still in use. It’s a really cool listen, especially if you are unaware how Glitch came to be and why that whole title eventually was shuttered and its art assets handed over to the community.