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Citrix chomps Podio for cloudy workspaces

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The mad rush to grab cloudy startups that make interesting apps continues, and this morning Citrix Systems has snacked on a little Danish. Specifically, Copenhagen-based Podio, a maker of malleable workspaces for online collaboration and project management.

You might be one of the 45,000 companies already using the Podio tool, which like many modern software applications runs on the cloud rather than on your desktop or servers. If not, you might have heard of the company as Hoist, as it was known when it was founded in early 2009 by Jon Froda, Anders Pollas, and Andreas Haugstrup Pedersen. The stealth startup got some seed money and by August 2009 it had its first customers.

In August 2010, the company got some more money and hired Tommy Ahlers (who kicked in the dough) as its CEO. Ahlers founded social media and mobile backup software company ZYB and sold it to Vodafone in May 2008 for just under $50m, so he had the cash to play with. Hoist changed its name to Podio and came out of stealth mode in September 2010, and by February 2011 it had 6,000 customers using the collaboration service. That success allowed it to raise $4m in Series A funding from Sunstone Capital. By March of this year, a year after the official launch of the Podio service, the company was running its collaboration tools on desktops as well as across iOS and Android smartphones and tablets.

Podio has integration with Google Docs for documents and with Box.net and Dropbox for file storage and allows for users to mix and match different parts of the Podio environment to mash up their own work environment for a specific project. You only see the components you need for any given project, which means the interface is always precisely suitable to the tasks at hand. As of last month, there were over 75,000 different Podio apps – or rather what the company calls apps, and you can argue among yourselves if these really qualify as apps – and over 185,000 different workspace configurations running on the service. Podio also integrated with Evernote, FreshBooks, Google Apps, Google Alerts, Instapaper, and Zendesk.

The Podio service has been offered under a freemium model, with the service being free to anyone with five or fewer employees in a workgroup – with a cap of five external client or partner users. There is also a cap of 1GB of storage on the freebie version. Once you get bigger than that, you pay $8 per-employee-per-month to use the service, but your clients and partners can log into your apps and use them for free.

Citrix did not divulge what it paid for Podio, but says it will roll it into its GoTo family of online services. And that was probably to avoid being rolled over by the Podio service. ®

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