Advertisement

Two Google alums just raised $60M to rethink documents

Two Google alums just raised $60M to rethink documents
From TechCrunch - October 19, 2017

When you open a Google doc or a spreadsheet, you get a blank spreadsheet and some documentation as to what you can do with itand thats pretty much where weve been for quite some time.

But two MIT graduates, coming in from Microsoft and Google, have built up a team that for the past three years has quietly been trying to rethink how we approach documents. CEO Shishir Mehrotra spent his life in documents, and now he and co-founder Alex DeNeui have raised $60 million for a startup called Coda thats trying to start the concept of an online document or spreadsheet from scratch. Greylock Partners, Khosla Ventures, and General Catalyst participated in the financing, with LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and General Catalysts Hemant Taneja joining the board of directors.

We like to describe it as a new document that blends flexibility of documents, the power of spreadsheets, and the utility of applications into a single new canvas, Mehrotra said. It really started from an observation that we think that the world is full of all these different types of applications but most work gets done on documents and spreadsheets. Every team we looked at, youd ask them what they use to run things theyd name off all these different applications. They have task trackers, CRM tools, inventory tools, but if you looked over their shoulders theyd spend all day in documents and spreadsheets.

Starting with a blank slate, Coda aims to begin with the familiar look and feel of a document. From there, it kind of spins off in a different direction to allow a lot of flexible collaboration and UI elements and new ways to organize data that you might find across different platforms like spreadsheets or documents. Mehrotra said the team built up a new kind of programming language for it as a refinement of the tools youd find in Google Sheets or Office 365. The hope is that Coda can be flexible enough to stitch together the problems that span all those kinds of products into a single flowsheets, docs, and other kinds of places where people collaborate and store information.

Part of the origin story can actually be traced back to one of his daughters looking over Mehrotra shoulder while he worked on a spreadsheet, Mehrotra said. Explaining a spreadsheet to a 6-year-old, it turns out, is pretty difficult and he says he had to come up with a convoluted example to describe how to use it rather than starting from the primitives. Fast forward to launching Coda, he says theyve rethought it in such a way that his daughter can figure it out fast enough to start planning a competition on it.

If you step back and think about it, I cant quite explain what [a spreadsheet] is, I have to find a contrived use case, Mehrotra said. What were trying to do with Coda is building a new set of primitives. Some we built to be intentionally familiar. We start with a frame that feels like a document, but the set of primitives are really built to be building blocks. Theyre reimagined in a way that we think it should be done in the first place.If we started again, pretended we didnt know how those work, what would we come up with?

Advertisement

Continue reading at TechCrunch »