A start-up with one goal:
make documents better.
How many Google Docs or Excel spreadsheets do you have open on your desktop at this very moment? Stop counting, there is a better way! In a world full of digital tools and applications, documents and spreadsheets still seem to run everything for no other reason than they are what we know and as many know the world fears change. What if I were to tell you though that there is a new type of doc that blends the flexibility of documents, the power of spreadsheets, and the utility of applications into a single canvas…ok now I have your attention. Well, say hello to Coda, a tech startup offering just that! Launched last year by former Microsoft exec Shisir Mehrota and former Googler Alex Deneui, Coda has come out of stealth mode with one goal: make documents better by making a doc as powerful as an app.
Documents and spreadsheets haven’t changed in 40 years.
The fundamental basis of work, the document, has not been rethunk since it began. The system has worked as well it can in our modern age, but the truth remains that the tools were built for a previous age. Companies in the recent past have tried to reimagine the tools, but nothing has stuck until Coda. The company secured the executive chairman of LinkedIn onto their board and raised $60 million of capital in two rounds of funding from notables investors from Greylock to NEA to Khosla Ventures and more all while flying under the radar in stealth mode for three years as the designed their concept for an online document spreadsheet hybrid from scratch. The founders asking themselves all the while, “What would documents and spreadsheets look like if they were invented today?” This led them to create a versatile collaborative document tool board that combines a spreadsheet and a word processor to help teams in diverse companies access shared datasets while empowering them to view and manipulate the data on their own terms. Coda wanted to avoid the traditional boundaries that forced people to choose between a spreadsheet or a document, choosing to design their own platform around the way we interact with web apps by mixing pictures, text, graphs, comments, collaborative live updates, and external API usage to interact with other web services.
Like most documents, the dashboard starts with the basic blank page and the classic blinking cursor; however, the Coda engine immediately reveals itself to be quite powerful. It spins off in a direction to allow for flexible coordination and new ways to organize data. As envisioned by the founders, the docs Coda’s enables are built to erase the boundaries of the past, combining the ability to write words on a page with structured data formed on tables. Referred to as the “Minecraft for docs”, Coda was structured like a programming platform to enable the documents to grow with user’s creativity.
The documents and spreadsheets built can be as unique and creative as your team.
Coda has the potential to be revolutionary. The unique drive of Coda is to flexibly stitch together the problems that span all those kinds of document products into a single flow to allow users to collaborate and store information. It’s even possible to integrate other services into a document; entering “GoogleDirections” into a formula, for example, will add a Google Map complete with directions. The ability Coda offers to link documents together, infused with live data that updates automatically, has led companies like Uber to become a beta tester of the platform. The personal driver giant has been using it since last summer, having employees move some of Uber’s data slowly into Coda from Google Sheets. One of the core reasons Coda is so useful for Uber is a direct result of the ability to link many documents together while constantly adding live data. It is that and more with the ability to be used for everything from wedding planning to bug trackers to customer relationship management software. The founders consciously designed the system to grant as much flexibility as possible to allow people to continuously find more uses for it. If you don’t see value in that, then maybe the project’s $400 million valuation before it was released will help you see it.
We run all of Coda on Coda
This Untold Story just goes to show that just because the wheel isn’t broken, that doesn’t mean it can’t be made better. The full Coda experience is still only available on desktop since the mobile web version is currently read-only. If you like products with a little bit of depth to them and want to try Coda for yourself, you can request to join the beta at coda.io. As the company would say, “What will you coda?” Go put Coda to the test and start building docs you haven’t even imagined. Happy Coda’ing!
June 5, 2018| By Chaz Hermanowski – Untold Business Writer