UPDATED 17:31 EDT / NOVEMBER 02 2016


Message.io wants to be a universal translator for chatbots

Austin, Texas-based startup and Y Combinator alum Message.io has just launched a private beta test for its bot syndication service that allows developers to deploy their bots across multiple platforms with no code changes required.

Chatbots are powerful automation tools that give team communication platforms like Slack and HipChat all kinds of useful capabilities, from creating expense reports to scheduling employee time off and more, but because each chat platform is different, developers have to create native code for each individual service. Obviously, this makes cross-platform deployments require a huge resource investment, and Message.io Chief Executive Tom Hadfield says this cannot last.

“The messaging platforms are like walled gardens,” Hadfield told SiliconANGLE, “but if you look back through human history, pretty much every communication technology that has survived – whether that’s postal mail, the telephone, fax, email – has all trended towards interoperability, and we think there’s no reason bots or messaging will be any different.”

Message.io says it has solved this problem with its new syndication tool, which works a bit like a translator for bots. For example, a bot could issue commands in a format intended for HipChat, and Message.io can then convert those commands into whatever format is needed for another platform like Slack.

“So your Slack app receives that message as if it had come from Slack, and as far as it’s concerned, it has,” Hadfield explained.

Hadfield said that Message.io’s initial focus will be on the enterprise. In addition to its current support for Slack, HipChat and Skype, Message.io will also be adding support for Salesforce Chatter, Cisco Spark and other enterprise messaging platforms in the coming months. According to Hadfield, while consumer bots certainly have potential, the enterprise is where the hottest bot action is right now.

“Consumer platforms like Facebook are definitely on our road map, but our observation is that the enterprise bot market is more mature and seeing higher rates of adoption and retention and utility,” Hadfield said. “I think that’s also reflected in terms of the venture capital interest that we’re seeing in the bot space, which is really focused on those use cases as well—for now.”

“I have no doubt that the consumer space will catch up as brands and developers really figure out the mainstream consumer use cases for bots.”

Message.io’s syndication tool is currently in private beta, and it is already been tested out by a number of major players in the bot space, including Lucidchart, HubSpot and Nuzzel.

Photo by jeffedoe 

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