How Coda Is Making Docs as Powerful As Apps


Of apps Stokes and spreadsheets that still run. Absolutely everything. Do you ever wonder if things could possibly change? Well about a year ago, a company called coda came out of stealth with the promise that anyone could make a document as powerful as an app, and now they're making good on that promise. And since the beta phase tens of thousands of people across thousands of teams are using coda every month and we've got some big companies involved here to such as cheddar, Spotify, an Uber as well as small businesses just the Hudson baking company of all being building coda docs, to create solutions to that. Very real problems. If you go by the coda website, whilst you listening to this podcast, check out that gallery to say some of those coda documents. So a couple of weeks ago coded and then new type of dog released code at one dollars. Zero and with it. That was a new mobile experience available on both mobile web and oil s so the concept of a dog being as powerful as an app, captured my attention. But when I also learned the as a rich tech history working at Google, and Microsoft, I had to get him on the show to learn more. So book elope, and hold until it, so I can be me is all the way to California, so we can speak with Shishir have Roger CEO and co founder of coda. So massive warm, welcome to the show. Can you tell the listeners Labatt who you are, and what you do or thanks for having me Neil? Notre, I run a startup called Kuda that I've been working on for the past four, five years before that I spent about six years at Google, I most of that working on YouTube. I ran the tech side of YouTube, and before, though, it's been about six years. Microsoft, worked on office windows and sequel server and before that I started a another startup colts and Trotta. I quite a while ago. Now. On the tech podcast. I love hearing about how techies transforming every industry, but also often, more importantly, the story behind the solutions slowly changing the world. So can I ask that you share your journey that began with an observation the world still runs on documents and spreadsheets for us four years? Okay. Tell me about that and the inspiration behind what you're doing. Yeah. Sure. So KOTA where we're building. A new type of document it blends the best of documents spreadsheets presentations, applications into one new surface. And we like to say that it allows anyone to make a doctor's, powerful an app and the, the idea for the company came out of two primary observations of the world. The first is that we think that docks not apps around the world. And so we look around and look at our teammates or collie or you know, what people do at home or school, and you ask people, what they used to keep themselves productive or or management system. And so on, they'll often name some packaged applications that they've that they've bought or things they built in the across all sorts of different examples. But the if you actually observe them and you walked what they're doing. You'll see them in documents and spreadsheets all day long. And this is something when I worked on the office team it was something we used to talk about as we saw in our user base. But when I got to Google particular when I got to YouTube, it, this is became very start for me. This is right, when Google doc. She's coming out, and we basically ran the entire company on, on Google docs and sheets. And, you know, things like the way we did go planning or the way we did performance management. Or you know, one of the fun stories was at when I joined YouTube back in two thousand eight if you hit flag on a YouTube video on the website, it would show up as a row in a spreadsheet on an ops person's desk. And that's how that's how he managed thing. So, you know, so there's a sort of first division, that, that even though there's all these applications out there. Everything still seems to Ronin documents. Spreadsheets. And then the second observation is if you look at those documents and spreadsheets, they haven't really fundamentally changed in over forty years. And we have this running joke at the company that if Austin powers to pop out of his freezing chamber, he wouldn't know close to where or what musical listen to, but he would absolutely know how to work document spreadsheet and a presentation. And it's a pretty simple reason all the metaphor for those tools for set in the nineteen seventies Wordstar and Harvard graphics and visit Cal, you know, gave us all the metaphors that were still using today. How pages are laid out in the document house. Lives related presentation spreadsheet everything, like how you do a one b to see three that we've all gotten used to we like to pull up battleship all those metaphors have state, exactly the same forty years and you put these two observations together, and it sort of interesting. You know the the this surface that what are the use cases fundamentally changed. And we're, we're now using this not just for digitizing, you know, paper documents and slide decks, and so on. But we're actually using it to run our teams and our families and our. Businesses we we use it all day long. We stare at it at all of our productivity done out of it. And yet, we're using metaphors that are forty years old every other piece of software in the world has has changed in that time period, you know. So what about what about documents? And so that's how we started. We said what, what if we were what if you were to backup ignore history and start from scratch, what would we build that, and that's what we've been building? A new type of document fun. Fantastic, especially because if you'll buy ground being at YouTube, and Mike self and seeing firsthand, the heart of the tech industry. But you tell me well about how that moment that you realized that if you're going to build a new type of dog, you really were going to have to start right from scratch. I mean, it must be quite daunting. Yeah. I think it's one of those ideas that, you know, I always like to say the, you know, the sort of two questions, I ask people when they come to me and say, should I start this company and always ask them? Do you have an idea? You can't imagine not working on and do have a person, you can't imagine not working with and is rarely the case that the answer to both those questions are. Yes. But when they are, it's, it's sort of inevitable. You can just you can see the gleam in and entrepreneurs is they, they can't help it started and, and it almost becomes an obsession. So, so when we were getting started myself, my co founder, Alex tonight, you know, he was actually working on another startup at the time that, you know, thankfully wasn't going that while, and so I was helping them brainstorm other ideas, and, you know, one of us one of us wrote the sentence on the board and said, you know what, if what if you can make apps easily as you can, as, as you can make dogs and once that showed up on the board. All of a sudden, we had this whole list of ideas, it just kind of snapped into place and we. You know, we could just sort of picture the product, we could picture all little elements what we need to get done. And it was it quickly became clear that none of those elements are things where you could just slightly twist, one of the existing surfaces and, and have it just worked that you had to sort of fundamentally we start with a different type of information model and you know, everything from very fundamental concepts. Like, for example, we don't we don't differentiate between documents spreadsheets presentations, all in one surface down to like very specific. Details of the ways that, you know, the way our tables were presented as a lot closer to a database into a spreadsheet, and we have an interaction model people. Call buttons or week all buttons. And people, people really like that people use to setup actions in workflows, and so on that are all these, you know. New types of building blocks reframed in a way that, that have to have to fit together perfectly and that point, we can picture the product. It was really clear that no, we weren't going

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