An alternate take on why Salesforce acquired Quip
As the dust settles on Salesforce acquisition of Quip, there are a number of hypothesis of why Salesforce is interested in the boring word processing market. The headlines seem to suggest a fuzzy picture at best.
We have a slightly different take on Quip’s past present and now their future at Salesforce. As we have been working on DocuCollab in past few years, Quip has served as a reference point for us to think that we are not totally out of our minds as we think about future of collaboration and its convergence with enterprise business processes. Here is our take on why Salesforce sees value ( worth $750M) in acquiring Quip.
1. Salesforce may be trying to widen the crack created by Google in Microsoft’s Office market.
It is true that there has been a long history of so-called MS office killers coming up and not making a dent in Microsoft’s marketshare. However cloud has changed everything and Google has made Microsoft vulnerable in the office productivity applications space. We just have to look at the ever growing list of organizations, local and federal agencies that are making a switch to google apps.
Quip has successfully made their mark in attracting a small slice of market. What is remarkable about Quip is their ability to stay relevant and charge a subscription fee, despite Google Docs and Sheets being free. This shows that the market is willing to pay the price for simple easy to use collaboration tools.
In the near future, we should expect to see the emergence of a new category of lightweight document editing and collaboration software that is geared towards vast majority of business users who don’t need highly formatted document editing and creation capability. Salesforce can certainly benefit by having Quip in their arsenal and building up on it.
2. Quip Broadens the capability of Force.com platform by offering documents creation and editing for application developers
Force.com is a platform that has been used by a large number of companies to built their own offerings. While Force.com offers many foundational capabilities to application developers, the word processing and collaboration capability has been completely missing. With Quip technology, Salesforce can offer their app development community the capability offer documents, notes and collaborative editing capabilities in their custom apps.
3. Diminishing boundary between documents and business applications.
The future of user interface for enterprise business applications is rapidly changing in past few years. While chat bots are being presented as the face of business applications in certain areas, voice agents ( e.g. Siri or Alexa ) interface are being tested to conduct business transactions in other areas. We at DocuCollab foresee the emergence of a third type of interface. A smart, intelligence and connected documents that serves as the simple easy to use front that shields the complexities of business transactions.
If we look at Quip closely, we can see a pattern emerging where data and content are getting interweaved in the context of business process. Quip has integrated their spreadsheet as data objects inside their documents. Any changes to the data automatically reflected everywhere in the document. DocuCollab has been working on their concept of “Document As the Business Application” and this was recognized as a key reason for receiving the most promising startup earlier this year. Salesforce can up the ante by transforming the enterprise business applications.
4. Talent — Quip founders are joining the salesforce team and are expected to keep the product moving forward. As Salesforce determines their path forward towards the convergence of document collaboration and enterprise business processes, the collective Quip brain trust will certainly be a huge asset. What remains to be seen is how Salesforce brings the social angle to their strategy, where Microsoft has a big advantage with their LinkedIn acquisition. Perhaps Brett Taylor’s facebook experience will help Salesforce come up with their gameplan.
5. As a bargaining chip — It is not uncommon for large players to have several tricks up their sleeves. On one hand Salesforce is trying to integrate Microsoft Office with Salesforce application, the future is never certain. While some large salesforce customers may demand MS office integrations, the rest of the market may be just as happy with alternatives. Having capabilities like Quip readily available, Salesforce can alter the dynamics of any future technology integration discussions.
As with any large technology acquisitions, there is always the possibility of large vendors taking smaller ones off the market, so that their competition does not get the benefit. However we do believe that Quip represents a new era in document creation and collaboration. We remain excited about our vision of micro-collaboration and document as the application being the future.
Rajeev Kumar is the co-founder and CEO of DocuCollab (http://www.docucollab.com) , a micro-collaboration software for the enterprises that bridges the last mile of enterprise collaboration.