Facebook is making its first serious move to monetize WhatsApp

Facebook is getting serious about monetizing WhatsApp after the social network reported sluggish earnings growth last Wednesday. WhatsApp has rolled out three new ways for customers to connect quickly with businesses: a shortcut button to immediately start a conversation, the ability to have businesses send you information like a boarding pass on WhatsApp, and real-time support, the company said today.

At the same time, Facebook will now display ads of businesses that link out to WhatsApp. That means that businesses can purchase ads that lead people directly to an already loaded chat with the business on WhatsApp, and they can start talking from there. Businesses can respond to customers for free if they answer within 24 hours but Facebook will charge them for any response after 24 hours. It looks to be another way for Facebook to cash in on its many apps.

The message function on WhatsApp is nearly identical to the one on Facebook, where you can go to a business’s page and send a message. Business communications on Messenger haven’t been super successful to begin with, and Facebook has had to roll out additional chat extensions to compensate. The WhatsApp blog post indicates that it’s up to the business if it wants to offer real-time support, so there could be the additional wrinkle that you might not hear back for a while.

WhatsApp opened up its platform to business users last September. Since then, it has kept the number of businesses using the app undisclosed. It said it tested the new messaging tools with about 90 businesses including Uber, Wish, and Singapore Airlines.

Today’s announcement sounds like Facebook is making new tools to entice businesses to stay on the platform as it begins to monetize WhatsApp. As additional ways to boost stagnating profits, Facebook can monetize from Instagram’s ads in Stories, for instance, and also potentially from WhatsApp businesses that are taking out ads.

Slack buys HipChat with plans to shut it down and migrate users to its chat service

Slack made a surprise announcement today that it’s acquired HipChat, once a primary competitor to its workplace chat service, from enterprise software giant Atlassian. As part of the partnership between Slack and Atlassian, HipChat will be shutting down and the two companies will work together to migrate all of its users over to Slack. The same goes for Stride, the chat and collaboration successor to HipChat that Atlassian launched last year.

Atlassian clarified that Slack is only buying the intellectual property behind the two products, and that the two companies will be working on future integrations together.

In exchange, Atlassian gets a small stake in the startup, while Slack pays an undisclosed amount over the next three years to fully acquire the HipChat and Stride user bases. The partnership comes at a pivotal time for corporate chat software, with Microsoft ramping up competition with a rival product called Teams that’s immediately available for 135 million Office cloud subscribers. There’s even a free version of Teams available made to lure new users in, a strategy similar to Slack’s. Facebook too has its own take on the product, called Workplace.

Prior to this partnership, Atlassian attempted to stay competitive in the corporate chat space by moving its HipChat customers to a new team product, which it called Stride. That service offered audio/video conferencing and project-tracking alongside standard chat and other communication features. Unfortunately, like HipChat, Stride failed to gain the traction required to keep it profitable, especially as big corporate names like Microsoft entered the enterprise chat space.

As for existing HipChat users, they’ll have the option to use the service until February, at which point they’ll be encouraged to transition over to Slack. To date, Microsoft claims 200,000 organizations use Teams, while Slack claims 500,000 active organizations.