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Chris Cardell

Interview with Leah Culver ( is a service that provides private hosted IRC, plus more, for as little as $10/month. I interviewed Leah Culver, founder to find out more. This interview is the forty seventh in a series of DW interviews. Big thank you to Leah for the interview!

How would you describe in under 50 words?

Grove is hosted IRC (group chat) for companies. We provide a better way to communicate about your projects.

When did you realise you wanted to be a developer?

I made my first webpage when I was 15 but I didn’t figure out that I loved coding until I took a programming class in college.

How did you become an author of OAuth 1.0? What did you take away from the experience?

I got involved with OAuth in 2007 when I was looking to build an API for my first startup, Pownce. I heard that a few people were working on a new authentication specification based on Flickr’s flavor of token-based auth. I volunteered to write the first implementation of OAuth based purely on the spec. My implementation sucked. OAuth is so much better now!

You co-found Pownce in March 2007 and led the development. How did you meet co-founders Kevin Rose and Daniel Burka?

I met Kevin and Daniel at a bar in San Francisco. No joke.

What made you decide to start working on

I’ve always been passionate about communication products and I think Grove fills a real need right now for better company communication. Grove allows teams to work with less email and face-to-face meetings. It also provides an invaluable tool for working with telecommuters.

What technologies have you used to build

The IRC server is custom and written in Python. The web application is Python/Django and the web chat client uses Backbone.js for it’s fancy UI. We also use Redis for message passing.

What was technically the most challenging part of developing

The most technically challenging aspect was building an IRC server that works like a web application and also plays nicely with IRC clients.

There are IRC clients for every platform (Mac, Windows, Linux, iPhone, Android, etc.) and it’s very important to us that Grove works well for everyone.

You were funded by Y Combinator winter 2011. Would you recommend applying?

Yes! I recommend applying to everything as long as you think it can help your company. YC won’t make or break your startup but it’s an extremely valuable resource. The best part is the alumni network.

Who is’s biggest competitor?

Our competition is someone setting up and running their own IRC server. Grove makes it so much easier to just start chatting. We’ve also added a ton of features on top of IRC like daily archives, search, a web client, and GitHub integration.

Are you trying to introduce IRC to a non technical audience?

It’s about getting customers who are already know the value of IRC to share it with their teammates.

You’ve had a varied career. What one piece of advice would you give to your past self 6 years ago?

Relax and don’t worry too much. Everything will work out just fine.

What are you most excited about at the moment?

I’m surprised to find that I really enjoy working with business customers.

Can you convince the reader to start using in under 50 words?

If you’re looking for a better way to communicate with your team on projects, try Grove.

Finished reading? Check out!

This entry was posted on Monday, February 6th, 2012 at 8:39 am GMT. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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