2019 & Grou.ps v2

The was previously published https://emresokullu.com

It’s been two weeks since a beta version of Grou.ps v2 was launched. We chose not to make a big splash as we’re still ironing out some kinks. But soon you’ll hear more about it. This post is an intro for all the insiders, friends & family as we enter a new year.

First of all, this marks the first rebranding in Grou.ps’ 13+ years history. I’ve always been resistant to change, following the footsteps of conservative Coca-Cola vs ever-changing Pepsi. But, the time had come for a new logo and a color theme that collectively better represent us.

For me, Grou.ps v2 is special because it will help me remedy a 9 years old pain, resulting from when we switched to paid-only plans for 300,000 network creators.

It was a forced decision, but it was necessary.

We weren’t the only ones in our industry who took a similar path, as meetup and Ning had done before. But it was unoriginal and disappointing. I always regretted it. We made countless attempts to solve the bleeding cash problem: negotiations with Amazon, jumping from one cloud provider to the other (hence transferring petabytes of data) as a lab rat, other innovations (e.g. probably the first P2P file-sharing browser plugin). But nothing solved our cashflow problem.

That’s one reason why we’ve made the new Grou.ps open source. Which means you can always fetch the source code and run it on your own. This guarantees what you pay will always be as low as it can get. The instances that are created on https://grou.ps and hosted with us are identical to the ones you’d host on your own. We even made it easy for you with a one-click Heroku installer.

In addition, Grou.ps v2 comes with strong privacy built-in. The hosted version forces SSL encryption and the servers are located in the Dutch jurisdiction. We are committed never disclosing your data unless we’re legally obliged to. You may also run the open source version behind Tor for added privacy, and be responsible for legal requests yourself.

Why do we do this? Why are we giving it away free? Because

  1. We make enough from the enterprise deals and steady subscription revenue to operate this slim operation.
  2. The board understands the challenges our industry faces, and appreciates the efforts we put in for more than a decade to keep the company afloat, so the pressure is minimal or none to existent.
  3. We are missionary. For us, impact is more important than $$

Last but not least, Grou.ps being open source, MIT licensed, means even if we go bust one day, you or someone else can fork the code and continue the development with no royalties.

I thank my patient investors and board members for allowing me to take this decision about 2 years ago. Since then, I’ve put in all my experience scaling Grou.ps from 0 to 8 million monthly unique visitors to this new stack. It is certainly not yet-another social networking script you can find on Github. Its RAM-first graph based design is unique and engineered to scale out indefinitely for a social network as large as today’s Facebook with minimal server administration overhead. It may sound grandiose, but I claim it is the social networking core Facebook would be built upon had it been decided to be rewritten from scratch — minus some potential bugs and glitches we’re still working on.

Everyone is welcome to take a peek at the source code and contribute. If you’re an ex-Grou.ps user, please subscribe and give it a try for one month. The no-gimmicks pricing (only $8, no .99s, no annuals, no catches 🤦‍♂️) will help with the development. We’ve committed to not changing the pricing in anytime soon.

Last but not least, please do remember this is still beta code, and use it with caution. If you prefer waiting for a stable version, subscribe to this email list (external link; click Subscribe).

I wish all of you a happy new year, and I hope 2019 will be the year you’ll give us one more chance.