New plans for self-hosted Zulip customers
Update: We have published a new blog post describing an additional Zulip plan for self-hosting without commercial support.
Zulip is a 100% open-source team chat application designed for efficient communication. Zulip is available as a cloud service or a self-hosted solution. Organizations that self-host Zulip can do so on their own (relying on extensive documentation and best-effort community support), or purchase commercial support for their installation. You can learn more about Zulip in today’s blog post announcing the 8.0 release.
What is changing
Starting today, new self-hosted customers will no longer get unlimited free access to Zulip’s Mobile Push Notification Service. Organizations with more than 10 users will need to sign up for a plan in order to access the service. For current users of the service, unlimited free access will end on February 15, 2024.
We now offer two new plans that include unlimited access to mobile push notifications. The Business plan also includes expert commercial support. The Community plan is free of charge, and is available to open-source projects, research groups, and communities.
As always, we remain fully committed to Zulip’s 100% open-source model. Organizations that do not require technical support or services from us can freely install and use a complete version of Zulip. We are not turning Zulip into a proprietary product with an “open core” demo version — Zulip’s open-source software is the product.
Why we are introducing a new Business plan
Our aim is to make signing up for the new Business plan be the norm for businesses relying on self-hosted Zulip as their mission-critical communication platform. This will generate revenue for the company that stewards and financially supports Zulip’s development.
Zulip is proudly independent, with no venture capital funding, which means that our revenue strongly impacts the pace of Zulip’s development. In addition to supporting the project as a whole, we expect this change will let us dedicate more resources to product improvements requested by Zulip’s self-hosted customers.
We also believe the new Business plan will establish a better framework for our relationship with self-hosted customers. Until now, purchasing commercial support required a conversation with our sales team. In practice, this process felt too heavy for most small- and medium-sized businesses, and they would instead end up self-managing their Zulip installation.
Self-managing might be OK for a while, but an extended team chat outage can stop work in its tracks; Slack incidents regularly trigger a flurry of media coverage about the disruption. This puts a big burden on system administrators who are responsible for securing, maintaining, and upgrading a Zulip server on their own.
Commercial support will now be included when organizations buy Business plan access to Zulip’s Mobile Push Notification Service. Our support team can answer questions about installation and upgrades, provide guidance in tricky situations, and help avoid painful complications before they happen. We can also guide organizations on how best to use dozens of Zulip features and configuration options.
The Business plan is priced at $6.67/user/month with annual billing (or $8/month billed monthly), which is the same price as Zulip Cloud Standard. This model lets organizations budget for using Zulip without having to decide whether self-hosting or Zulip Cloud will better suit their needs. On our side, the resources required to provide an excellent support experience for a wide range of self-hosted configurations more than balance Zulip Cloud hosting costs.
We offer a 30-day free trial of Zulip Business to make it convenient to run a full-scale Zulip evaluation with your team, and never have to pay if you go with a different chat product.
We created Zulip to empower teams to collaborate effectively, and are confident that the increased productivity from using Zulip makes our plans well worthwhile for organizations that pay people to get work done.
As an example, the annual plan will pay for itself if an employee making $65K/year saves just 3 minutes per week  by using Zulip. Put another way, the cost of the plan is 0.12% of that employee’s direct compensation, not even counting overhead.
“In fact now it seems strange to me to just fire off messages in Slack with no subject – that’s chaos, madness. The genius of subject lines is that you can quickly and easily catch up on the messages you missed in your off-hours… This feature alone saves me hours a week.”
— Zulip review in The Register
In addition to providing a free Community plan, we offer generous discounts for organizations whose circumstances make the Business plan pricing hard to afford. Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Why a mobile push notification service is needed
As Zulip’s maintainers, we publish the open-source Zulip mobile apps for iOS and Android, and offer a service that allows self-hosted Zulip servers to send mobile push notifications to their users. Mobile push notifications must be centrally managed due to iOS and Android app store policies.
We will continue to offer the Zulip’s Mobile Push Notification Service free of charge for organizations with up to 10 users, and for organizations eligible for the Community plan.
What these changes mean for self-hosted customers
If you are a current user of the Mobile Push Notification Service, you will continue to have unlimited free access to the service until February 15, 2024. Starting today, you also can:
Do nothing. We remain committed to Zulip’s 100% open source model, so you do not have to purchase a plan in order to use Zulip. We are not turning Zulip into a proprietary product with an “open core” demo version — Zulip’s open-source software is the product. This option doesn’t include support, and access to the Mobile Push Notification Service will end on February 15, 2024 for organizations with more than 10 users.
Apply for Zulip Community. The Community plan is free of charge, and available to open-source projects, research groups, and community organizations. It includes unlimited push notifications and community support for many Zulip features.
Upgrade to Zulip Business or Zulip Enterprise. Both plans include unlimited access to the Mobile Push Notification Service, and commercial support for dozens of features and integrations that help businesses take full advantage of their Zulip implementation. Zulip Enterprise additionally includes real-time support during installation and upgrades, technical support for advanced deployment options, and more. Discounts are available for education, non-profits, customers based in the developing world, and other situations where the standard Zulip Business pricing would be a stretch for an organization.
Move to Zulip Cloud. The Business plan is priced the same as Zulip Cloud Standard, which we hope will help you choose between self-hosting and Zulip Cloud based on what best suits your needs. If you would like to switch to Zulip Cloud hosting, with its professionally managed, always up-to-date experience, our high-quality export tools make it easy to move your organization.
We’ve put a lot of care into designing a pricing model that we believe offers great value compared to other team chat options on the market, and allows organizations without an IT budget to continue using Zulip unchanged, for free. If this announcement makes you consider migrating off Zulip, please get in touch with us before you make your decision — we may be able to help!
You can learn more about the new plans, and read detailed instructions on how to sign up. When you upgrade to the Business plan, you can start the plan right away (if you’d like support to start immediately), or schedule a February 15 start date.
Upgrading your Zulip server to version 8.0 (released today!) makes it significantly more convenient to manage your plan, but you do not have to upgrade your Zulip installation in order to sign up for a plan. The same plans are offered for all Zulip versions.
If you wish to apply for the Community plan or a discounted Business plan, we strongly recommend submitting your application by January 31 in case additional information is required before your application is approved.
Let us know if we can help
We’d love to work with you to make the transition as smooth as possible for your organization. If you have any questions or concerns about the next steps, the timeline, which plan is appropriate for you, or anything else, send us a note at email@example.com!
 $80 annual Business plan cost / ($65,000 salary per year / 2400 work minutes in a week) = 2.95 minutes