Facebook is planning to introduce a free version of its workplace collaboration tool, Workplace by Facebook, geared toward smaller organizations, companies in emerging markets or those that aren’t interested in paying for a full-scale version of the tool, said Simon Cross, product manager at Facebook, in an interview with CNBC.
The new, free version will be called "Workplace Standard," while the paid version will be called "Workplace Premium." Workplace Standard will not include administrative and analytical tools available in the premium version.
Facebook created the free version because every company does not need a "full-scale enterprise deployment" and many organizations could not pay for Workplace, according to Cross.
Facebook launched Workplace by Facebook, its enterprise social network, in October. But it faces a crowded enterprise collaboration market that includes Slack and Microsoft Teams, among others.
Offering a free version of Workplace will allow Facebook to generate more attention to its product. After all, workplace collaboration tools are all about getting eyeballs and getting people hooked on a platform that they can then spread among their coworkers. Facebook will also be able to tout user numbers for Workplace, which could get a boost with the free version.
Competition in the collaboration space is fierce. Slack is wildly popular, with an estimated 5 million daily active users and 1.5 million paying subscribers. But Facebook is a more recognizable brand and also has a better ability to scale. Another powerhouse on the market, Microsoft Teams, already has a vast customer base full of organizations who use its product suite, from Windows to Office 365.