Atlassian Buys HipChat, but Will Developers Give Up IRC?

Atlassian logo

Today Atlassian announced that it has acquired private chat company HipChat. Terms of the deal were not announced.

Atlassian sells development collaboration tools like the bug tracker JIRA, which just added some social collaboration features and the wiki Atlassian, which you’ve probably seen if you’ve looked at much online documentation in the past few years, and the Github competitor BitBucket.

HipChat provides a range of special features like video conferencing, mobile clients and archiving of chats.

The big challenge I see is prying IRC from developers’ fingers. IRC has long been the de facto standard for real-time communication among developers, and the fact that free open source IRC servers can be deployed internally may negate much of the value that proprietary chat services provide. There are IRC clients for almost every desktop and mobile operating system imaginable.

HipChat provides a number of special features, but IRC is a long established standard that has been good enough for decades. Meanwhile, Skype also provides basic real-time communication and has become exceedingly popular with business people and non-technical users. Skype and IRC are difficult incumbents to displace.

The good news is that since HipChat uses XMPP, the venerable open protocol formerly known as Jabber and used in Google Talk, it can be integrated with many other existing clients.