Atlassian just introduced Stride, the successor to its popular HipChat chat app.
- Stride is designed to make it easy to bounce between text chatting and videoconference meetings.
- Atlassian is competing with both Microsoft and Slack to conquer the work chat space.
There’s a war for the workplace chat app brewing.
Atlassian, Australia’s $US7.86 billion tech giant, has been in the game longer than most. Back in 2012, Atlassian purchased chat startup HipChat, bringing the service under its umbrella. Now, HipChat is one of the most popular chat tools in Silicon Valley and beyond, with customers including Tesla, Expedia, and, until recently, Uber.
In recent years, though, it’s faced stiff competition from $US5 billion Slack, a venture-backed darling of Silicon Valley. Following the success of Slack, this year saw the official release of the competing Microsoft Teams. Microsoft’s entry has been viewed as a sign that workplace chat is — or is about to become — a serious market.
Which is why, today, Atlassian debuts Stride — the successor to HipChat, redesigned from the ground up with a new aesthetic and new features. Under the hood, Stride is totally rewritten from scratch using more modern technologies, promises Atlassian.
“Rebuilding from scratch was a pretty big decision,” Atlassian co-CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes tells Business Insider.
Atlassian is making available a free version of Stride, which supports unlimited users. Companies can also pay $US3/user for a version of Stride enhanced with more cloud storage and more robust security settings.
If your company is using Atlassian’s cloud-hosted version of HipChat, it’s going to automatically upgrade to Stride, free of charge. For those companies running HipChat on their own servers, Atlassian will still provide support and updates. But it’s clear that the eventual gameplan is for Stride to supplant HipChat, everywhere.
It supports all the basic functions of HipChat, including integration with Atlassian’s JIRA issue-tracking products, as well as a swath of third-party services like GitHub.
The idea, says Atlassian HipChat General Manager Steve Goldsmith, now in charge of Stride, is for the new product to build on the “scar tissue” from the years that HipChat has been in operation. He says that it took an “enormous R&D team” at least two years to build this new product, but thinks Atlassian hit on the right balance.
While Stride has a fresher, more modern look, the basic idea is the same as HipChat and the other major chat apps. Your company is divided up into “channels,” or chat rooms, with one or more each devoted to sales, marketing, legal, and et cetera. You can also talk privately to coworkers and colleagues.
The big difference is in the relative simplicity of hopping between text chatting and videoconferencing. Right within Stride, any member can start a videoconference meeting for the members of a channel. For the duration of that meeting, anybody who comes into the channel will be able to see that there’s a call going on and be able to join.
The idea, says Cannon-Brookes, is to knock down the divisions between text chat, phone meetings, and videoconferencing. While Microsoft Teams and Slack both support video calling, as does HipChat, Atlassian’s stance is that it should be even easier to slip in and out of video calls.
Plus, those meetings support taking public notes: While you’re on a call, you can decide that it’s Bob’s turn to bring doughnuts. Make a note of that within Stride and everybody will see it in the meeting notes — and Bob will get a notification that a decision was made giving him doughnut duty. Those notes also double as a public to-do list, to keep the team on the same page.
There are other quality-of-life features, too. For instance, a snooze button lets you flag yourself as heads-down in work, so that incoming messages are put in a buffer, sort of like an answering machine. When you’re done working, you get a summary of everything you missed in all the teams that you’re part of, and you can decide who to answer.
Generally speaking, says Cannon-Brookes, the idea is for Stride to be a tool, not an operating system unto itself. You should close it when you don’t need it, and open it when you do.
“We don’t want you to spend more time in it than necessary,” says Cannnon-Brookes.
On a final note, the timing of Atlassian’s announcement is noteworthy: Slack is holding its first-ever user conference in San Francisco on September 12th, meaning that the startup’s Aussie rival is likely looking to take some wind out of its sails. The chat wars continue.
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