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8x8 buys Jitsi open source video conferencing from Atlassian

8x8 has acquired the open source video conferencing company Jitsi from Atlassian in a bid to improve its online meetings platform, 8x8 Meetings.

8x8 has acquired the open source video conferencing company Jitsi from Atlassian in the cloud telephony vendor's latest move to expand its business communications portfolio.

Jitsi hosts an open source video conferencing server that developers can use to build WebRTC-based video products. It also runs a free platform for online meetings that developers can embed into their websites or mobile apps using Jitsi's APIs and SDKs.

8x8, a unified communications as a service (UCaaS) provider, said Jitsi's platform would remain open for all to use, and Jitsi told developers that the change in ownership wouldn't impact them. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Atlassian acquired Jitsi in 2015 to add video conferencing capabilities to the team messaging app HipChat, and later to its cloud-based successor, Stride. Earlier this year, Atlassian sold those platforms to Slack, which plans to discontinue them and transition users to its app.

Some expected Slack would acquire Jitsi, given that Slack is a close partner of Atlassian and reportedly relies on a WebRTC server controlled by an open source community of developers. Slack and Atlassian recently tightened their relationship by agreeing to collaborate more closely on integrations between the former's team messaging app and the latter's project management software.

"I'm a bit surprised Slack didn't pick up Jitsi as it would seem to make sense that they'd take the opportunity to acquire their own video technology rather than rely on a third party," said Irwin Lazar, analyst at Nemertes Research, based in Mokena, Ill.

8x8 plans to use Jitsi's open source video conferencing technology, as well as the company's team of engineers, to improve 8x8 Meetings, the cloud web conferencing platform that 8x8 offers to UCaaS subscribers. An improved 8x8 Meetings could help 8x8 win deals against rival RingCentral, which relies on a partnership with Zoom to power online meetings.

"For 8x8, the move should accelerate their ability to deliver high-quality, browser-based video conferencing to improve their competitive positioning against RingCentral," Lazar said.

The Jitsi acquisition is one more example of 8x8's recognition that UCaaS vendors are increasingly competing on more than just cloud telephony. Over the last several months, 8x8 has launched 8x8 Team Messaging, a team messaging platform, and the X Series, a platform that combines voice, messaging, meetings and contact center.

8x8 rivals RingCentral and Vonage have also taken steps to expand into new markets. Both, for example, recently bought cloud contact center startups. Vonage previously acquired Nexmo, which makes cloud developer tools for building communications channels.  

The acquisition frenzy comes as the pure-cloud vendors face more pressure from legacy players like Avaya and Cisco, which have begun investing heavily in cloud UC and contact center platforms.

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