Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Working from home: The future of business is remote

Stack Overflow reports strong growth from COVID-19 workplace changes

Working from home requires new collaboration tools such as Stack Overflow's Teams product, which has attracted top VC investments.

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft is a user of Stack Overflow for Teams

Image: Microsoft

With $85 million in recent Series E funding and new leadership, Stack Overflow is moving into new territories as it seeks to expand its strong reputation among developers with SaaS Team tools to help people work remotely and share information. Most of the money will go to further develop Teams -- which competes against Slack and others.

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The 12-year-old company has raised a total of $153 million and the prior round was five years ago in 2015. The most recent round was led by GIC, the Singapore sovereign wealth fund, and included top VC firms Silver Lake, Andreessen Horowitz, Index Ventures, Spark Capital, and Union Square Ventures. 

It has a new CEO, Prashanth Chandrasekar who joined in October 2019 from Rackspace. 

I spoke with Teresa Dietrich, chief  technology and product officer at Stack Overflow, who is also new to the organization, about the company's plans.

"I joined just a few months ago in January," Dietrich said.  "I joined because I'm excited by the opportunity to make a difference at a large scale and help not just developers but also many other types of workers, solve problems in a collaborative way. The work from home COVID-19 crisis has caused an explosive demand for our Teams product -- which helps share knowledge asynchronously, without constant interruptions."

Stack Overflow has established a solid reputation for a question-and-answer format service based on solving software development issues. It's expanded into many non-programming related topics, such as sourdough starters, which emerged in the early lockdown period a few months ago.

"Our popularity depends very strongly on our volunteer moderators, about 500 -- which are elected by the community. Earlier this year I formed a 12-member Moderator Council -- each one is elected-- so that we will always have strong input into the company's management from our community," said Dietrich. 

Stack Overflow moved into software development of its own in 2018 with its Stack Overflow for Teams SaaS application. It's essentially a private version of Stack Overflow, enabling teams to share knowledge and message across different locations or time zones. It turns out to be a perfect tool for teams forced to work from home because of COVID-19 -- as is the case at many tech companies but also at many non-tech companies. 

It is the Teams product that attracted the company's recent investors. "Most of the money we raised will go towards further development of the Team product," said Dietrich.

Many companies have accelerated their digital transformation programs, which means Stack Overflow for Teams needs to be expanded and further developed as a solid enterprise application.

The company makes about one third of its annual revenues of about $29 million from the Teams product; the rest is from advertising IT products and from job advertisements. 

The effects of the pandemic have boosted business tremendously, with 260,000 new signups in April -- a record for the company.