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Quip Wants to Kill Email Attachments

Mitch Wagner

SAN FRANCISCO -- Dreamforce -- Quip wants to make email attachments a thing of the past. Instead of swapping documents and collaborating over email, Quip wants to embed the discussion around the document in the document itself.

"What we're trying to do is reimagine documents, by adding communications at the center of productivity," Rafael Alenda, marketing vice president for Quip, which was acquired by Salesforce.com Inc. last year, tells Enterprise Cloud News. "We're trying to eliminate internal email. We think that's an inefficient way of working."

A Quip document starts as a blank sheet, into which users can add spreadsheets, task lists, and integrated Salesforce data. "You can mix and match the apps and create a powerful workflow," Alenda says. Each document has an integrated discussion.

The information in the document is updated in real time. "We refer to them as living documents because they are always up to date," Alenda says. That eliminates a problem where old versions of documents are still being shared in email.

Quip was co-founded six years ago by Bret Taylor, former Facebook CTO, co-creator of Google Maps, and CEO of FriendFeed, a cult social media platform from the 2000s that got acquired by Facebook and became foundational to the News Feed. The other co-founder is Kevin Gibbs, who founded Google App Engine. The original vision was not so much collaboration as it was creating an app suite for mobile productivity. That vision survives today in that Quip's apps are mobile-first, with feature parity across all devices -- mobile, browser, Mac and PC. Quip also works offline, without a network connection, and syncs updates when reconnected.

Quip introduced new collaboration tools at parent Salesforce's Dreamforce conference this week, where you could find these costumed mascots wandering the grounds. Photo by Salesforce.
Quip introduced new collaboration tools at parent Salesforce's Dreamforce conference this week, where you could find these costumed mascots wandering the grounds. Photo by Salesforce.

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Quip this week introduced the Quip Collaboration Platform, including Live Apps to allow third-party developers to embed their own application types in Quip documents.

"It's the biggest change to Quip in the history of the company. With our announcement yesterday of Live Apps, we're taking Quip from a product to a platform," Alenda says.

Salesforce is shipping ten of its own apps, for Kanban -- a scheduling system originally developed in Japan for lean manufacturing -- project calendars, polls, Jira bug tracking and more. Quip is also providing one-click templates, customizable starter documents for product, sales, marketing and other teams.

And Quip opened the platform with a Live Apps API to allow any partner or enterprise customer to build their own apps to integrate with Quip, working with 20 launch partners, including DocuSign, Lucidchart, New Relic and more. Third-party apps get the capabilities of Quip built in, including co-editing, offline support and support for the mobile app.

And Quip is enhancing the discussion features of its application to borrow elements of social media, including commenting, @mentions, and liking content.

With support for Salesforce Records, Quip documents can include information in Salesforce such as customer documents.

Quip claims that a study of its customers conducted a year ago found email reduced by 43%, fewer meetings, and about 37% reduction in time to project completion, Alenda says.

One question left outstanding is to what extent Quip competes with Google's G Suite. Salesforce on Monday announced a partnership with Google on analytics, infrastructure and G Suite; Salesforce is using G Suite internally, and will offer one year of free G Suite to Salesforce customers who are new to G Suite. (See Google Joins With Salesforce to Mix Online, Offline Customer Analytics.)

Alenda says Quip and Go Suite are different. Quip focuses on team collaboration around documents, and also offers a first-rate mobile experience, which G Suite lacks.

Quip puts Salesforce in competition with Microsoft, and Microsoft is returning the favor, with introduction of its own CRM product, Dynamics 365, a year ago. (See Salesforce, Microsoft Spar Some More.)

Another contender for business collaboration is Slack, a booming communications platform based on live chat and messaging. Slack has inspired imitators, including Microsoft Teams. (See Microsoft Attacks Slack, Slack Whacks Back .)

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— Mitch Wagner Follow me on Twitter Visit my LinkedIn profile Visit my blog Follow me on Facebook Editor, Enterprise Cloud News

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