Message.io launched a private beta of its enterprise tool to convert Microsoft Teams, HipChat, Skype, and Slack bots today. The startup launches its bot converter the same day as the launch of new collaboration and chat app Microsoft Teams.
Salesforce Chatter conversions will come next, CEO Tom Hadfield told VentureBeat in a phone interview. Ultimately the company plans to extend its reach to 25 different enterprise chat apps.
Roughly 80 early partners are part of a Message.io private beta, including Kayak, HubSpot, news app Nuzzel, and weather bot Poncho.
A public launch of Message.io is scheduled for early 2017. Conversion of business-to-consumer bots will also begin next year, Hadfield said.
“We believe that all bots should be able to work on all messaging platforms,” said Hadfield. “Kind of challenging that there’s such a thing as a Facebook bot or a Slack app, because we don’t think that makes any more sense than a website that’s optimized for Netscape or Internet Explorer, because we see the messaging clients as just like browsers, with some slight variation in UI.”
Message.io is a company that operates between chat platforms. Providing services between chat platforms is a good place to start a business, said Howdy CEO Ben Brown. Howdy offers Botkit, the de facto toolkit to make a Slack bot. IFTTT CEO Linden Tibbets and Ozlo CEO Charles Jolley have made similar arguments.
“We think that the ecosystem around and between these messaging platforms is super fertile ground for developers and entrepreneurs,” Brown told VentureBeat in a phone interview last month.
Historically, Hadfield argues, communication technology trends toward interoperability, and there’s no reason to believe bots will be any different.
“It’s important that for the ecosystem to evolve in such a way that it’s easy for developers to just build once and deploy it everywhere. That’s our vision: of bots that work everywhere,” Hadfield said.
Based in Austin, Message.io has 12 employees and was part of the Winter 2015 Y Combinator batch. Founded by Hadfield and James Cundle, the company was the pair’s third startup since 2008. Former HipChat head of engineering Joe Lopez is also part of the team.