sauce labs logoWebsite testing company Sauce Labs just announced that it has raised $3.1 million in a first round of funding. The San Francisco startup is trying to build a business around Selenium, the open source testing tool developed by company co-founder Jason Huggins.

Selenium has been downloaded around 2.6 million times, and has been used for testing at companies including Google, Yahoo, eBay, and Salesforce.com, Sauce Labs says. (In fact, Huggins worked at Google for a while to oversee the search giant’s Selenium testing.) Basically, it allows companies to write a script for walking through all the features of a website, especially sites that use JavaScript, on different browsers, then playing back the results.

As an open source project, Selenium is available for free, but Sauce Labs charges for a number of tools built on top of the core service. It started out by offering “cloud testing” — while a company like Google can have afford to have a bunch of computers running Selenium tests, that may not be practical for a startup, so Sauce Labs allows you to rent online infrastructure (namely, Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud) to run your tests. It has been adding other premium services, as well.

Sauce Labs is now reaching out to a less technical audience, with the release of a product called Sauce IDE. As part of the open source project, there’s already a browser plugin called the Selenium IDE, which allows you to run and record Selenium tests without writing any code, but it only works on Firefox. The Sauce IDE works on multiple browsers, including  Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Chrome and Opera.

“We’re taking our geeky cloud service, or some of its benefits, and making it more friendly and approachable,” Huggins said.

The funding comes from The Contrarian Group, the investment firm created by business and sports executive Peter Uberroth.