Flock Moves Quickly to Woo HipChat Users Away From Slack

Following the surprising news on July 26 that Slack had acquired chat and messaging service HipChat, competitor Flock is moving quickly to try to move customers over to its service with an enticing offer.

collaboration app

Flock, which offers a popular team messaging app, is giving HipChat and Stride users the chance to move to Flock Pro for free for a year. The news comes less than a week after Slack announced it had bought the intellectual property behind chat and messaging service HipChat and Stride, another chat and collaboration service launched last year. Both HipChat and Stride are owned by Atlassian.

Slack said it will offer HipChat and Stride customers an easy migration path to Slack, its popular namesake messaging service. Atlassian said both products will be discontinued early next year.

In a statement sent to eWEEK, Slack’s Chief Product Officer April Underwood detailed the reasons why the two companies are teaming up.

“Slack and Atlassian have worked closely together for many years, and Atlassian’s tools, including Jira, Trello, and Bitbucket, have already been installed by hundreds of thousands of Slack teams. This deeper partnership exemplifies our shared belief that the world of enterprise software is moving to a model in which people are building their own technology stack with the highly specialized, interoperable tools that best suit their needs. Atlassian is doubling down on its extremely successful suite of products for IT, as Slack cements its position as the hub for all kinds of work—an open platform that serves as one interface where an entire company's tools, knowledge, and human capital come together.”

Ninad Raval, Flock’s director of product and design, argued that Flock should appeal more widely to companies that want messaging services for all their users, not just engineers and technical staff among whom Slack has gained a lot of fans and early buzz.

“People who grew up with IRC [Internet Relay Chat] and the early internet know what channels are and what tools like Slack can do,” Raval told eWEEK. “But we have a much wider appeal for those people who are new to these technologies. Our core sweet spot is wider than Slack’s in places like the HR and marketing departments.”

Raval said at the end of the free year, Flock Pro users can downgrade to the free version if they don’t need all the features. “We understand chat is important, and we don’t want to keep people out, so unlicensed members can still do basic messaging,” he added.

Analyst Charles King said he is not surprised by Flock’s move.
“Any time one vendor is acquired by another, competitors will look for opportunities to peel off unhappy or dissatisfied users,” King, principal analyst with Pund-IT, told eWEEK via email. “The pickings can be especially rich when the acquiring company decides to kill or prematurely sunset popular products or services. That's the scenario that Flock is aiming towards and the company's pairing easy to use migration tools with a year's worth of free service is likely to find some willing takers among HipChat and Stride users.” (Editor’s note: Technically, it’s Atlassian, not Slack, that will stop supporting the products next year.)

Meanwhile, even as Slack, Flock and others move to pick up former HipChat and Stride customers, Microsoft is making significant progress in the same corporate messaging/chat space with its Teams collaborative chat application. Teams only debuted two years ago but is available to 135 million Microsoft Office 365 subscribers. Microsoft also offers a free version, just as Slack, Flock and others do.

Facebook also offers a rival service called Workplace.

David Needle

David Needle

Based in Silicon Valley, veteran technology reporter David Needle covers mobile, bi g data, and social media among other topics. He was formerly News Editor at Infoworld, Editor of Computer Currents...