But the Headline Number Doesn’t Tell the Whole Story
Announced on April 27 as part of Microsoft’s FY21 Q3 results and shared by Microsoft’s Jeff Teper in Twitter (Figure 1), we learn that Teams now has 145 million daily active users (DAU), an increase from the 115 million number reported in October 2020. In other words, growth of 30 million over six months, or five million new Teams users monthly.
Another factoid shared by Satya Nadella in his remarks to analysts was that Teams added more than 300 new features over the last year. Office 365 tenants are well aware of the number of new features appearing in Teams. It’s an ongoing challenge for many organizations to keep up with the volume of changes and the unpredictability in delivery caused when Microsoft adjusts roll-out dates.
Strong Growth Since 2020
The news about the new DAU number isn’t terribly surprising. The Teams DAU jumped massively due to the demands for people to work from home during the pandemic. What we see now is a relative flattening in the growth curve (Figure 2). The growth is still impressive, but Teams can only grow into the available pool of Office 365 seats. Right now, it seems like Teams accounts for about half of the available Office 365 base, assuming we’re comparing apples to apples based on Microsoft data.
Teams in Commercial, Education, and Large Organizations
Microsoft never releases numbers which tell the full story. For Teams, no differentiation is offered between commercial and education users. Teams is strong in education and a February report put the number at 100 million student users, with a growth of 30 million students since September 2020. The problem is that these users pay much less per license than commercial users do, and there’s usually no opportunity for Microsoft to upsell higher-priced plans or expensive add-ons to boost the average revenue per user (ARPU) figure beloved by Microsoft CFO Amy Hood and Wall Street analysts.
Unless you conclude that Teams has only 45 million commercial users, there’s no way to reconcile the 145 million number with 100 million student users of Teams. Microsoft isn’t saying what the real situation is. However, the detail revealed in their FY21 Q2 data about the growth of Teams in large organizations gives a helpful insight. According to Microsoft, 117 organizations now have more than 100,000 Teams users and 2,700 have more than 10,000 users. The largest customers (Accenture and the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs) have more than half a million users. Although we don’t know if these organizations are all commercial or a mixture of commercial and education, the data indicates strong acceptance of Teams in large enterprises.
Nearly 300 Million Paid Office 365 Seats
Microsoft hasn’t revealed a hard number for Office 365 active users for about a year. This time round they said that “Office 365 now has nearly 300 million paid seats.” A year ago, that number was 258 million. Applying the 15% growth in Office 365 paid seats over the last year noted by CFO Amy Hood, the number is 296.7 million.
April 2020 marked a transition in reporting as Microsoft stopped talking about Office 365 active users and focused on paid seats. There’s a big difference between a paid seat and an active user, and if you applied the 15% growth rate reported by Microsoft to the last number for active users, you end up with a current number of 264.5 million active users, which is what I show in Figure 3. As Mark Twain said, “There are three kinds of falsehoods: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
I’m not quite sure to make of the cited 38 billion collaboration minutes clocked up by Office 365 users in a single day. Microsoft doesn’t say if this includes email, document creation, sharing presentations, Teams chats, online meetings, or Yammer discussions. It seems like a catch-all statistic for everything people do within Office 365.
Microsoft also revealed that the number of customers who pay for Azure AD is now over 300,000. These are the folks who will qualify for the new 99.99% SLA for Azure AD. Hopefully, they’ll be able to avoid the kind of Azure AD authentication outage which occurred last month.
Microsoft said that “the number of organizations with more than 1,000 users integrating their third-party and LOB apps with Teams has increased nearly 3X year over year.” This points to a growth in interest in Teams as a development platform. The Teams admin center now lists 997 apps submitted by ISVs and Microsoft. The last time I checked, the number was around 600. All of which means that ISVs need to pay attention to Teams if they’re not already doing so.
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