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The battle just got beefier between two of the most popular workplace messaging apps.

HipChat is releasing a video conferencing system, the company announced Thursday. The update allows HipChat users to video chat with the click of one button and gives users more control on who they want to see. That feature is currently unavailable in Slack, the darling of chat apps.

Prior to the update, users could video chat but they had to rely on a third-party integration, such as BlueJeans, HYFY and Google Hangouts. Those require having separate accounts, take more time to start and give users less control over who they see when.

“There’s a big leap of time to say everybody stop using the system we’re already using and now use this. It’s not the end of the world, but it is 5 to 10 minutes of friction every time,” Steve Goldsmith, general manager for HipChat, told Mashable. “That’s what we’re trying to solve.”


Indeed, our interview which took place over HipChat embodied that seamless experience. With one click, I (based in New York) was video conferencing with Goldsmith (in Austin) and the communications director (in San Francisco) and could, with one tap, enlarge either screen.

It may seem like a basic product update, and in fact, other tools like Google Hangouts, Skype and BlueJeans offer similar experiences, but the change reflects the key moves HipChat is making to satisfy consumer demand and compete in what, they admit, has become a “two-horse race” with Slack.

“We believe that two-horse races are good. We are currently in one now. What you rely on for that is awareness which is driven by hype and marketing but also we’re driven by innovation,” Goldsmith said. “Our pitch is around innovation for teams. Our pitch is not to be better than Slack.”

“Our pitch is around innovation for teams. Our pitch is not to be better than Slack.”

Fueled by $540 million in venture funding, Slack has made an aggressive push toward building the most useful workplace messaging app. Its design has won over media companies (Mashable is a user) and Silicon Valley startups. In just three years, Slack has attracted 3 million daily active users.

Meanwhile, five-year-old HipChat did not take on venture capital funding and operated at profitability. In 2012, it was acquired by 14-year-old enterprise software company Atlassian. Under Atlassian, which went public in December 2015, HipChat has stayed mum on its user numbers. The parent company, as a whole, claims to have more than 5 million monthly active users.

On a feature standpoint, HipChat and Slack continue to differ and attract certain companies. Uber, for instance, opted to switch from Slack to HipChat. The ride-hailing company found HipChat better at handling more users across various geographic locations, according to Business Insider.

As part of Atlassian, HipChat can also offer a suite of software to customers while Slack for now is solely a messaging service.

The video conferencing feature may not remain a distinguishing feature of HipChat for much longer. Slack announced plans to introduce its own video conferencing back in March.

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