Quip: Rethinking Productivity Tools at SFDC

A few months ago, Salesforce.com purchased team productivity tool Quip.  This month’s  Dreamforce show was SFDC’s first opportunity to broadly promote Quip and their vision of productivity tools.  Quip’s mission is to “change the way people work together,” according to Quip CEO Bret Taylor.  Unfortunately, “the way that all of our teams work has completely shifted over the past decade, but the tools we use at work just haven’t kept up.”

The “path forward” is away from email attachments, meetings, and continuous monitoring of email inboxes.  Taylor was the CTO at Facebook when it transformed from a browser platform to a mobile first platform.  As this transformation took place, he realized that Facebook users were enjoying cutting edge apps running on a mobile phone while the state of the art inside the company was working with 8 ½ x 11 virtual documents and attaching them to email.  When founding Quip, he threw out the “preconceived notions” around productivity software and asked “what would productivity software look like in a decade if you were to start from scratch” if you designed it around mobility and communication?

One of the problems with building such a tool was that productivity has been defined by Microsoft and its Office Suite and has been framed by this unitary vision for decades.  They concluded that the goal of productivity tools was to “enhance communications.”  Thus, typewriters let anyone set copy and photocopiers let anyone run a printing press.  Likewise, the Office Suite digitized communication tools that already existed (e.g. typed documents to Word, overhead slides to PowerPoint, calculators to Excel).  Email then made it easier to attach virtual documents and transmit them globally in milliseconds.

But with the smartphone, productivity has failed to keep up.  Users have shifted to thumb typing emails on their phone instead of using productivity tools.  “All of us have willingly given up thirty years of R&D in the word processor to thumb type emails for one simple reason: it’s more important that the recipient of what you’re writing can click reply than that you have footnotes or fonts.  Communication is the most important feature of productivity and that’s why communication is the foundation of Quip.”

The goal of Quip was to avoid email entirely, otherwise they would simply be creating another attachment file type.  “Quip combines communication and writing in a single integrated product experience so you can work and communicate with your team without going back to our email inbox.”

Quip allows multiple simultaneous editors on any device with a chat thread attached to each document,” said Taylor.  “In Quip, that forty-email chain in making a decision is a shared document with a state of the decision right there for everyone to see.  And all the conversation that went into that decision is attached to it.”

Quip is based on four key values:

  1. Quip is built for teams with every feature “designed to move teamwork forward faster.”
  2. Quip was designed mobile-first.  While not all documents will be created on phones, they all will work on phones.  “With Quip, you can truly run your company from your phone.”
  3. Quip is deeply integrated with the Salesforce productivity cloud.  A Lightning module allows Quip documents to be embedded within SFDC records so that “all of the spreadsheets, documents, and discussions about an opportunity are attached to the opportunity itself.”  Salesforce fields can be pulled directly into documents and spreadsheets with automatic updating.
  4. Quip is collaborative.

A customer survey found that Quip reduced daily meetings by 28%, cut time to project completion by 28%, lowered email communications by 32%, and raised team communication by 43%.  The net was a 38% increase in team productivity.

A Quip document with text, spreadsheet, chart, and checklist.
A Quip document with text, spreadsheet, chart, and checklist.

Quip does not offer multiple tools, but instead provides a single app for mixing and matching checklists, spreadsheets, text, and images within a single canvas.  An integrated checklist provides a meeting notes canvas with assigned tasks via @mentions.  By tracking actions within the meeting notes, follow-up meetings are reduced.

Spreadsheets are embedded within documents such that “documents don’t need to be a separate file attachment that can live right in the context of the project you are working on.  And the data in spreadsheets isn’t trapped within a spreadsheet.  You can reference the data from spreadsheets inside of your document,” said Taylor.  “And it means that you can have an executive summary that automatically updates when the finance folks update the spreadsheet.  It’s a really connected platform.”

Quip embedded spreadsheet data updates automatically.
Quip embedded spreadsheet data updates automatically.

And because each document includes an integrated conversation, teams can work entirely within the document without returning to their email.

Quip is priced at $30 per month for a team of 5 and $10 per month for each additional person.  The Enterprise edition is priced at $25 per user per month.

Quip customers include Facebook, Electronic Arts, Ultimate Software, Instagram, CNN, Snapchat, Airbnb, and Pinterest.

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