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Kato, a startup that built a business-focused chat app, announced in an email to users today that the app will shut down on Aug. 31. VentureBeat obtained a copy of the email (see below).

In January the team behind the app pivoted to work on Sameroom.io, Kato cofounder and chief executive Andrei Soroker wrote in the email. Sameroom is a tool for connecting separate communication tools, like Slack and Atlassian’s HipChat, or Kato, for that matter.

The pivot is ironic. Despite the fact that Kato has picked up adoption from Intuit, PayPal, and Shortel, among others, according to its website, Slack has become the hot new thing that has attracted serious funding and inspired the development of similar functionality from several software vendors. Kato’s pivot in a sense implicitly acknowledges how competitive this market is, and how difficult it is for a tiny startup with just a small amount of funding.

Oakland, Calif.-based Kato raised a $1.8 million series A round in August 2013 from Foundry Group and SoftTech VC, among others, according to its AngelList profile.


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“We’re going to keep adding new platforms and, maybe, over time, to convince the services we support to offer an official Sameroom integration to their customers,” Soroker told VentureBeat in an email. “We’re also working on an API, which will be interesting for companies looking to provide a single real-time integration that will support many different chat systems.”

Here’s the email in full, provided by a former spokesman for the startup:

I’m sad to report that we unfortunately have to shut down Kato. The last day of service will be August 31, 2015.

You can export your entire Kato history here: https://app.kato.im/#/account/export (or My Account->Export History). Click the button and within a few minutes you’ll get a zip archive with JSON and text versions of all your 1-1s and rooms.

In short — Slack ate the world and we failed to gain traction. Our SAML- and SCIM-enabled enterprise product had no takers from larger companies. The unique Kato features that made it stand out from the competition—proper multi-team support, swim-lane multi-chat design, great search, Vim-based keyboard shortcuts, the fast-forward button (esp. on mobile), and flexible group mentions—weren’t unique enough to get a critical mass of people publicly excited about the product.

All this forced us to stop working on Kato in January—we “pivoted” the company to Sameroom.io, the multi-protocol gateway that connects chatrooms across services.

We were hoping to keep Kato running on autopilot indefinitely—to wait things out, but our software eventually disagreed: the service started getting sick, causing annoying issues on a daily basis.

Since we are committed to operating with 100% uptime and we can no longer give it our best effort, we have to kill Kato. It’s a pity.

Not at the moment, it will take too much time to do this properly.

I’ll be running a Kato Sunset Conference on August 4—if you’d like to participate, please register here: http://ccst.io/e/andreisoroker1

CEO, Kato (and Sameroom)

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