Updated with comment from Convore co-founder Leah Culver. Group communication is a crowded space, as we wrote about when we covered the reaction of messaging startups to Apple’s OSX iMessage expansion. Today, Convore, a group communication platform that’s part group messaging app and part Campfire seems to be feeling the squeeze as it revealed that it will be shutting down its service as of April 1, 2012.
Convore launched in February 2011, co-founded by Pownce founding partner Leah Culver, as well as Eric Florenzano and Eric Maguire. The web-based tool, which later expanded to the iPhone, offered the ability to create public or private groups for real-time messaging, also allowed sharing of images. Conversations are persistent, too, making it easy to jump in and out for asynchronous communication if all parties can’t be present in real time.
Convore got off to a somewhat rocky start, despite good press early on. Mid-way through 2011, co-founders Eric Florenzano and Eric Maguire left to pursue development of Boilerplate, a startup aimed at creating “fun, social and useful applications that can be consumed on your computer or on your smartphone,” according to the company website. Boilerplate’s debut app Can’tWait!, which was a social tool for watching movie trailers for iOS devices, was shuttered two months ago as Florenzano and Maguire turned their attention to creating iOS deployment tool Clutch.io.
In a blog post announcing the Convore shut down, Culver notes that the team will instead be focusing on Grove, a “hosted IRC for teams” client that debuted last November. While Convore was inspire by the IRC protocol, Grove is actually built on it and aimed specifically at businesses and offers tiered subscription levels based on business needs. Culver told GigaOM in January that definite plans for the future of Convore had not been made, but it had already begun transitioning business clients to Grove. Remaining users of Convore’s platform can export their data here.
If Convore had a major failing, it was that the vision behind the product was muddied. It aimed to be all things to all people, and as a result drew comparisons to everything from Campfire, to FriendFeed, to Beluga and Yammer. Grove has a much clearer focus, and a straightforward SaaS revenue model, but it will still have to take on more widely used business-focused platforms.
Requests for comment from Culver, Maguire and Florenzano weren’t immediately returned.
Update. Culver later agreed to an interview about the closure. “Since January, we’ve gained significant traction with Grove,” she said. “It’s been catching on with companies here in the valley and across the world. The decision to shut down Convore was just due to the fact that we wanted to spend our time and energy focusing on Grove, which seems to be doing quite well right now.” Culver wouldn’t reveal numbers at this time, but agreed that Grove’s success is in part attributable to the fact that “it’s a very clear cut product” with readily apparent benefits.