Every year we analyze and rank the best open source projects that come out. Last year, Rocket.Chat, the team messaging startup, was one of the recipients of the Black Duck Open Source Rookies of the Year award. Rocket.Chat is a self hosted open source team messaging platform for internal organization communication, but unlike other services allows external guests to participate just as easily and for free.
We spoke to Rocket.Chat founder, Gabriel Engel, last year in a Q&A about the inception of the project and found out that Rocket.Chat began as a live chat extension to an internal CRM product. We’re excited to catch up with the CEO and founder of Rocket.Chat to find out how the product and the company have grown in the last year.
How Does Rocket.Chat Work?
Rocket.Chat is a user-friendly method of communication, specifically targeted for companies to use. It includes messaging apps that run on mobile phones, tablets, and desktop browsers. Conversations carried out in Rocket.Chat are organized into channels. There are three different kinds of channels: public channels, private groups, and direct one-on-one messages. Public channels are open to the entire team and can be joined by anyone on that team. Private groups are closed channels and can only be joined by an invitation from the administrator of the group. Direct messages are private, one-on-one conversations between team members.
There are also many different channel operations available in Rocket.Chat. To organize and prioritize communications, Rocket.Chat recommends that you favorite channels, private groups, and DMs. It's possible to hide or leave a channel, depending on how you wish to organize your list of channels. Finally, Rocket.Chat allows for emoji reactions either through an emoji picker or by typing out the desired emoji's name. It's simple to react to a message with an emoji.
Open Source Nature
As Gabriel Engel discussed at OSCON London 2016, Rocket.Chat is a real-time communication platform designed to be more than just a web chat platform. It has over 500 contributors and more than 100,000 deployments around the world. Although this establishes a network of creativity and advancement, having an open source application such as Rocket.Chat may present security and compliance risks associated with the Web Services (APIs). According to Baljeet Malhortra, Vice President of Research at Black Duck, it's important to be aware of the underlying Web Services embedded in all your software systems and "keep them up-to-date and evaluate them on an ongoing-basis for compliance and security challenges."
Of course, all software needs to be maintained; that's not unique to open source projects. Creating an open source project also offers many advantages. For example, because Rocket.Chat is open source, it allows businesses to contribute to and impact the development of their chat service, which may not be possible with commercial chat applications such as Slack. And Rocket.Chat has a seriously active development community — the product continues to evolve by responding to feature requests from both users and the open source community.
A Year of Growth
This year Rocket.Chat is excited to share that the company plans to open offices in Silicon Valley for Marketing and Business Development. Gabriel and his team feel that this move will contribute significantly to their growth. Rocket.Chat already has nearly 10 million users worldwide and over 100,000 servers installed. The company itself has also been adding employees at a rapid pace: today, there are over 20 employees at the company. Recently, they held a summit in Brazil to celebrate their growth and bond their growing team.
In October 2016 Rocket.Chat raised $5 million in a Series A round funded by New Enterprise Associates (NEA). In the Baugete, Júlia Merker writes: “The NEA’s interest in the platform has emerged from the perception that chat-like systems are becoming the norm within companies, not only in the relationship with consumers." Gabriel Engel mentions to the Baugete that, “We see a worldwide trend toward lowering the use of e-mail and the growth of WhatsApp, but it’s designed to be personal, not corporate — we want to be the enterprise WhatsApp.”
Brazil Summit 2017 & OW2con'17
Rocket.Chat's open source developer team hails from every corner of the globe. Several times a year, Rocket.Chat holds summits to bring everyone together for some in-person team bonding. Here are a few pictures from recent events, as well as Gabriel accepting a Best Project Innovation Award from OW2con'17 for integrating the latest Machine Learning translation technology.