Leaked documents show Microsoft is pegging some employee bonuses to helping the Teams chat app 'win against Zoom and WebEx in meetings'

Microsoft is awarding bonuses to some employees based on whether they help the company "win against Zoom and WebEx for meetings," according to an internal document viewed by Business Insider — giving some insight into which of its many rivals it sees as the most direct competitors to its own Teams app.

Microsoft structures compensation so employees receive incentives based on whether they achieve "core priorities." Core priorities are specific to each role, and Microsoft measures whether an employees has achieved the role's core priorities through "critical indicators of success."

The top core priority for one cloud-related role, per the document, is to "create customer value by accelerating cloud consumption/usage, supportability, and influence upsell – drive monthly active usage [MAU] of meetings on Teams, and platform and apps on Teams." Microsoft declined to comment on this story.

Teams is Microsoft's chat and videoconferencing software, and it has becoming increasingly important for the company as it competes against videoconferencing and messaging apps including Slack, Zoom, and Google Meet, though the documents seem to suggest Microsoft sees Zoom and WebEx as its top rivals when it comes to meetings.

Microsoft's top critical indicator of success for that particular role, according to the document, is to "enable your team to drive success and value at your customers though remote work and business continuity scenarios. Win against Zoom and WebEx for meetings, make Teams the platform for business and drive Teams everywhere to accelerate consumption and meet your targets by focusing on Teams Meetings MAU and platform and apps on Teams MAU."

The pandemic caused Teams usage to surge, up from 44 million daily active users in mid-March to 115 million daily active users as of late October. Microsoft doesn't break out Teams revenue, but the overall business segment that includes Teams — plus Office products for businesses and customers, LinkedIn revenue and Dynamics products and cloud services — reached $12.3 billion in sales in its most recent quarter, up 11% year over year.

Microsoft recently indicated Teams' growing importance for the company when its board changed the way it awards stock bonuses to executives in order to prioritize adding more Teams monthly active users, signaling "the focus on the product at the highest levels of the company," according to RBC Capital Markets analyst Alex Zukin.

Slack, proprietor of its own popular work-chat app, this summer filed an antitrust complaint against Microsoft with the European Commission, alleging Microsoft harms competition by bundling Teams into its productivity suite, installing it by default, and adding friction to its removal. Microsoft responded by indicating its perspective that Teams has a focus on voice and video chatting that the more text chat-based Slack largely lacks. 

"We created Teams to combine the ability to collaborate with the ability to connect via video, because that's what people want," Microsoft said in a statement on Slack's antitrust complaint, saying "Slack suffered from its absence of video-conferencing."

Microsoft doesn't mention Zoom or Slack in recent securities filings, but does list WebEx owner Cisco as a peer company in its most recent proxy.

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