Salesforce acquires Quip for $582m: What happens from here?

(c)iStock.com/Jason Doiy

Cloud software giant Salesforce has agreed to acquire Quip, an enterprise collaboration software provider, for around $582 million (£440m) of company stock.

San Francisco-based Quip, which is led by former Facebook CTO Bret Taylor and Google App Engine founder Kevin Gibbs, offers a plethora of methods to reimagine Outlook, Word, and more. One of the firm’s key concepts, launched earlier this year, was the ‘living document’ – sending off notifications and building data for greater efficiency.

In a blog post confirming the deal and written by Taylor and Gibbs, the company explains the rationale behind the move. “Salesforce and Quip share the same philosophy about software: it should be in the cloud, built for the mobile era, and be inherently social,” the two wrote. “We’re inspired by the possibilities ahead of us. As part of Salesforce, we will be able to expand our service more quickly and reach millions of people all over the world – which has been our mission since day one.

“The possibilities of mixing data, content and communication are amazing,” Taylor and Gibbs added.

This move is an interesting one for a variety of reasons. While plenty of the media is assessing this acquisition as another attempt to kill the enterprise behemoth that is Microsoft Office – a particularly enticing angle given Microsoft’s recent acquisition of LinkedIn and Salesforce’s subsequent admission that they were sniffing around – Quip is somewhat more of an Outlook-killer and Office-enabler.

When this reporter spoke to Taylor back in 2014, Quip had been a going concern for approximately nine months, primarily as a mobile play; a desktop version of the product arrived last year. Quip 2.0 had just been released, offering among its functionality the ability to export any Quip document to Microsoft Word. Taylor explained that, fitting in with Quip’s open ethos, there would be import and export across all major platforms, even though the company’s mission was to improve the experience the likes of Word provided.

Lo and behold, two years on users can do both with Office, Google Drive, Evernote and more. “We think of import and export not just in terms of cloud formats, but in terms of the services in which they come,” Taylor said at the time.

The link to email is more intriguing. Each Quip document and spreadsheet is chat-enabled, allowing direct messaging as well as commenting. The aim, as with the living document, is to make teams more efficient and not rely so heavily on email. Plenty of collaboration and productivity startups over the years have adopted this as their mantra. As Quip wrote in a blog post discussing the living document: “The problem with most web-based documents is that they exist only as hyperlinks buried deep in email threads in your inbox. It’s no wonder most offices still rely on email for everything.”

So, can the Quip and Salesforce marriage be a success? As this publication reported when the Microsoft/LinkedIn deal became public, integrating LinkedIn’s data and networks with Microsoft services, from Outlook to Office, to Yammer and Cortana, was a key part of the deal. What Salesforce intends to do with Quip remains uncertain, but the right noises are being made by both parties around the technology and culture angles – so watch this space.

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