The San Francisco based social groupware provider Grou.ps announced today that it has secured a Series A round of financing for $1.1 Million in a deal led by Golden Horn Ventures. Grou.ps has also announced that it is open sourcing a restricted version of its code under the Affero Public License.
Grou.ps aims to provide users with a comprehensive set of tools to collaborate online and currently has about 200,000 active users worldwide.
Grou.ps launched its public beta program in April and, at that time, already offered a large selection of modules, including chat, blog aggregation, wikis, talks (forum + mailing list), photo albums, links (bookmarks and news), calendaring, maps, subgroups, and people (profiles). Since then, it has added a files and videos module, as well as a number of translations. Grou.ps also integrates with third-party services like Flickr and YouTube.
Going Open Source
In open-sourcing its application, Grou.ps is following in the steps of a growing number of formerly closed source online services that have decided to go this route lately, with Reddit probably being the most prominent one. Grou.ps argues that this move will allow them to commoditize the Grou.ps platform and give them a competitive advantage to hire the most talented programmers from the pool of open source contributors.
However, opening up the code is not a panacea for developers by any means - while some programs flourish once a lot of developers get their hands on the code, others have a hard time developing an active developer community around their open source offerings.
Grou.ps' closest competitor, Ning, has a considerably larger user base and offers a very similar service. However, while Ning has advertising on its pages, grou.ps does not - though you can add your own AdSense code to the site. Ning, so far, has raised about $104 Million in four funding rounds.
Disclosure: Grou.ps founder Emre Sokullu has been a contributor to ReadWriteWeb in the past.