When Quip founder and CEO Bret Taylor left his Facebook CTO position in 2012, he had a clear idea of what he wanted to do next: build a new kind of word processor optimised for mobile and tablets.
Just about a year later, he launched the first version of Quip. It was basically a Google Docs-like app where multiple users could work on the same document and have a conversation on the side simultaneously. The screen size would adjust automatically depending on the device, whether it’s a smartphone, tablet, or desktop computer.
That made Quip quickly stand out from other competitors, like Microsoft Office or Google Docs, who were more focused on the desktop users. It also positioned itself as a work collaboration tool, targeting business customers instead of individual users.
Soon it started to gain traction, especially among Silicon Valley upstarts, signing up companies like Facebook, Instacart, and New Relic. Last year, it also added spreadsheets, a feature that basically works as a toned-down version of Microsoft Excel with all the collaboration tools that made Quip’s word processor popular.
All along, Quip had kept a mobile-centric approach. Even though it had a web app for desktop computers, it billed itself as “optimised for the era of tablets and phones.”
But over the past 18 months, Quip noticed an unexpected trend from its users: desktop usage surged, growing from 20% of total to now about half of all use cases.
“It did surprise us how popular [desktop’s] become, so I think it’s fair to say we’re focused more on it than we were in the past…It’s probably an area of greater focus at this point,” Taylor told Business Insider.
To better cater to the growing desktop demand, Quip launched a new, native desktop app on Wednesday that allows users to access it whether they’re online or offline. That means you can create a document on Quip even when there’s no internet connection, and get it automatically synced when you get back online. Your offline edits and messages will also sync as soon as you have an internet connection.
Taylor says Quip now has more than 30,000 companies using it, triple the size from last October. He didn’t disclose more detailed numbers, but did say companies like Instacart and Facebook have thousands of seats signed up for Quip. That’s pretty impressive when you consider Quip has less than 30 employees and only $US15 million in funding.
Online work collaboration has become one of the most crowded spaces lately, with multi-billion dollar companies like Slack and Dropbox all vying for market share. That means smaller players like Quip could potentially consolidate with the bigger ones. Not surprisingly, Taylor says “lots of people reached out” to Quip with what could have possibly grown into more serious acquisition discussions, although he’s not interested in selling out.
“Lots of companies express casual interest, multiple have reached out, but I don’t want to overstate what that was by any means,” Taylor said. “We have a long path ahead of us, but we really do think that this is a big market, and there’s a big opportunity being an independent company.”