Atlassian buys HipChat

news Australian enterprise software firm Atlassian revealed this week that it had acquired San Francisco-based HipChat. A hosted private chat service for companies and teams, HipChat has over 1,200 customers including Groupon, Wired and Hubspot. Atlassian will include HipChat into its growing portfolio of software and help teams at over 18,000 companies work better together and develop software more rapidly.

Pete Curley, HipChat CEO and co-founder stated in a media release that Atlassian provides an ideal environment to scale the HipChat business. “The no-friction business model, the customer base, the culture, the free beer – all things that are perfectly aligned with where we want to take the business. We’re excited to join Atlassian to change the way teams work together,” he said. Curley and the other two co-founders, Garret Heaton and Chris Rivers, are scheduled to join Atlassian in San Francisco to continue to grow and develop the HipChat product and business.

HipChat, a group chat platform, enables collaboration in real time between teams and entire companies. HipChat’s dynamic environment for real-time communication, group collaboration and file sharing is accessible through a Web browser, native Windows and Mac clients and native applications for popular mobile devices. The platform allows access and search for conversation histories, permitting new team members to catch up and avoid missing an important conversation.

CEO and co-founder of Atlassian, Mike Cannon-Brookes (pictured above, left, with co-founder Scott Farquhar), said that HipChat is perfect for product teams, and indeed for any team. Cannon-Brookes felt that connecting and sharing in real time allows teams to progress faster; he opined that this is something that HipChat does better than any product he has used. “Its use absolutely exploded at Atlassian, demonstrating the viral adoption potential of a modern communication system for teams,” he said.

Atlassian’s blog posts indicate that the company, half of which is already using HipChat, is highly satisfied with the platform. “We always say that our best customer is ourselves — if we love something, it’s likely our customers will love it too.”

HipChat provides a wide-ranging set of integrations to popular products and Internet services that publish targeted notifications from other products directly into the concerned team chat rooms. Integrations are on hand for Bitbucket (a free source code hosting service which Atlassian bought in September 2010), Atlassian Bamboo, GitHub, Heroku and MailChimp. New integrations that were released yesterday are for Atlassian JIRA, the industry-leading project and issue tracking software; Confluence, its content collaboration product; and two popular developer tools, FishEye and Crucible.

HipChat is available for a free 30-day trial and can also be bought for $2 per month per user. The platform has no ads, obscure screen names or failed file transfers, according to Atlassian’s blog. It supports all modern social networking conventions, like @mentions to help direct specific messages to specific people quickly and easily. HipChat can be accessed not only from any browser, but also through desktop apps for Windows or Macs or any Jabber (XMPP client) and from mobile phones through native iPhone, iPad and Android apps or SMS.

The CMO at HubSpot, Mike Volpe said that his team members use HipChat and love it for its simplification of building closer connections on a day-to-day basis. “And we use JIRA and several other Atlassian products to help build HubSpot. Now that Atlassian and HipChat are the same company, I can’t wait to see what they can do together,” Volpe said.

Outlining HipChat’s growth, Atlassian’s blog post says: “HipChat has grown organically to over 1,200 organisations — a huge number of whom are already part of Atlassian’s 18,000 strong enterprise customer base. We’ll be expanding the team to tackle their growing feature backlog, improving each of their clients, adding our own support and service expertise and better integrating HipChat with all of the most popular tools teams use today.”

This sounds like an extremely natural acquisition for Atlassian, and I really admire the way the company tested out HipChat internally with its own staff before deciding to make an offer for the company. It’s exactly the right approach and shows Atlassian will have deep knowledge of the technology it’s buying.

In a broader sense, I also admire what Atlassian is doing at the moment with broadening its software stack. In the tried and true fashion pioneered by Oracle and Microsoft, Atlassian is gradually making it so that its software stack is so compellingly well-rounded and integrated that customers using one portion will rapidly start to use all of the other portions. It’s great to see the company doing so in such an intelligent fashion.

Image credit: Atlassian. Opinion/analysis by Renai LeMay