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The Slack app icon shown on a computer screen on Dec 2, 2020, in Tokyo.

Kiichiro Sato/The Associated Press

Slack, the widely used messaging platform, experienced a major disruption in service Monday as many U.S. employees returned to work after the holidays.

The company initially called the service problem an “incident” in a statement on its website, then upgraded it to an outage an hour later. “Customers may have trouble loading channels or connecting to Slack at this time,” the statement said. “Our team is investigating and we will follow up with more information as soon as we have it. We apologize for any disruption caused.”

The website Downdetector, which tracks internet disruptions, recorded a spike in reported problems with Slack at about 10 a.m. Eastern Time, and the company posted its statement about the problem at 10:14 a.m. Users could not send messages, load channels, make calls or log in to the service.

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Half an hour later, Slack said it was still investigating. At 11:20 a.m., the company said, “All hands are on deck on our end to further investigate.”

Service began to resume for some users around 12:20 p.m. ET. “Some customers may be able to connect, but may also experience degraded performance,” Slack said at 1 p.m. ET.

It was not immediately clear how many of Slack’s more than 10 million daily users were affected. Asked about the extent of the outage and what might have caused it, a Slack representative said there were no additional details to share beyond the updates the company had posted online.

“Our teams are aware and are investigating the issue,” the representative said. “We know how important it is for people to stay connected and we are working hard to get everyone running as normal.”

Slack has grown in recent years as an essential workplace tool, owing to many users in media organizations and companies that have shifted to working from home because of the coronavirus pandemic. More than 750,000 companies use the service, according to the company, which became an independent publicly traded company in mid-2019.

Salesforce, a company that sells marketing and sales software, announced in December that it would buy Slack for US$27.7-billion in cash and stock, the latest in a series of major deals showing the demand for tools that allow people to work remotely. Adobe said in November that it planned to acquire the management-software company Workfront for US$1.5-billion, and Atlassian, which sells tools for developers, said it would buy the enterprise-services business Mindville for an undisclosed amount.

The high-profile deals indicated intense competition in the market for workplace software. Other companies with such products, including Airtable, Dropbox and Smartsheet, may be among the potential targets for acquisitions by powerful tech companies. Executives at Slack, which was founded in 2010, had rejected such offers in the past.

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The company has also faced increasing competition, especially from Microsoft, which offers a collaboration product called Teams. In July, Slack filed a complaint with the European Commission that claimed that Microsoft had unfairly bundled Teams with its Microsoft Office work products, including Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

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