After announcing earlier this year that it planned to shut down HipChat and Stride and sell the IP of both to Slack, today enterprise software company Atlassian made another move related to its retreat from enterprise chat. It is selling Jitsi, a popular open-source chat and videoconferencing tool, to 8X8, a provider of cloud-based business phone and internal communications services. 8X8 says it plans to integrate Jitsi with its current conferencing solutions, specifically a product called 8X8 Meetings, and to keep it open source.
Terms of this latest sale to 8×8 have not been disclosed. Both the tech and the engineering team working on Jitsi, led by Emil Ivov, are coming with the acquisition.
Atlassian originally acquired Jitsi and its owner BlueJimp for an undisclosed sum in 2015 with the intention of adding video communications to HipChat, and later Stride (which launched in 2017).
But now those two products are headed for the graveyard — they are both being discontinued on February 15, 2019 — and that made Jitsi less core to Atlassian’s new direction, where it is focusing less on enterprise chat, and more on tools for developers and customer care, including Jira, Trello, and Bitbucket (a competitor to GitHub).
The deal is one of the final moves for Atlassian as it focuses more on its business building and operating productivity tools that are not direct competitors in the crowded field of enterprise chat applications. It seems that in any case, Jitsi is hoping for more investment under its new owner.
“This is a great thing and will only help to keep Jitsi’s momentum with renewed investment,” writes Ivov in a blog post announcing the news. “The Jitsi team will remain 100 percent intact and will continue to be an independent group. Operationally things will work much the same way as they did under Atlassian. Jitsi users and developers won’t see any impact, though we do expect with continued funding and support you will see even more new features and capabilities from the project!”
Technology in the acquisition includes Jitsi’s modular open-source projects for businesses to build and deploy secure video communication solutions based around WebRTC; the Jitsi Videobridge conferencing server; and the Jitsi Meet conferencing and collaboration application.
“The best video communications solutions are so intuitive and reliable that they help employees conduct shorter, more productive meetings. 8×8 has already developed a world-class meetings solution for enterprises, and we’re focused on maintaining leadership in delivering reliable, crystal-clear video and audio conferencing quality across mobile and desktop applications,” said Dejan Deklich, Chief Product Officer at 8×8, in a statement. “Incorporating Jitsi’s open-source technology into our video communications technology platform, and having Jitsi’s talented engineering team play a role in leading our development of dedicated conferencing applications and WebRTC, will open new paths for our customers and further enhance our meetings solution.”
Jitsi’s tools are used by a variety of platforms and businesses that want to include videoconferencing but would rather use an independent third-party service rather than incorporate one from a would-be competitor or build it themselves. Customers include Comcast and Symphony, the chat app used by the financial services industry.
“Some of the most innovative WebRTC products and companies use Jitsi to support millions of minutes of daily usage as part of their meetings, messaging and collaboration product ecosystems. The open source community has played a critical role in advancing Jitsi’s projects by validating its use in a diverse set of environments and complementing the core team’s development. As part of this acquisition, 8×8 is committed to continuing to support the growing developer community, and we are excited to engage even more,” commented Bryan Martin, Chairman and Chief Technology Officer at 8×8.
This past weekend’s big news of IBM acquiring Red Hat for $34 million has emphasised just how central open source and cloud-based software are in today’s enterprise IT market. This purchase is far smaller, but is also part of that bigger trend.
“8×8 sees tremendous value in the open source community and is committed to helping grow the community even larger,” Ivov notes. “With a major, high-motivated backer like 8×8 behind the project, we are confident about our ability to continue building great open source products.”
By Ingrid Lunden