Technonlogy

A startup is taking on Google and Microsoft with a ‘Minecraft for docs’

Minecraft?

Image: Carl Court/Getty Images

A startup came out of three years in stealth Thursday with a simple goal: Make documents better. 

Called Coda, the startup has the ambitious goal of making a “doc as powerful as an app,” reads the company’s Medium post on the launch. 

Coda starts with a blank canvas like a document from Google or Microsoft, but then allows users to build on top of it. One of the platform’s beta testers described Coda as a “Minecraft for docs,” referring to the video game where people can build their own virtual worlds block by block. 

Like many startups, Coda is entering a crowded market and taking on tech giants. Google and Microsoft both focus on document sharing and storage. Atlassian and Asana also offer enterprise software. Salesforce bought word processor Quip last year. There’s also the tech darling turned billion-dollar goliath Slack

But Coda does have quite the credible team. The company is led by Shishir Mehrotra, formerly VP of product at Google’s YouTube. Previous reports said Mehrotra’s project called “Krypton” was valued at $400 million. 

So far, Coda has raised $60 million from some of Silicon Valley’s most notable investors such as Greylock, General Catalyst, Khosla Ventures, NEA, and Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers. LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman is on the board, according to a report from The Verge

A product team at ride-hailing giant Uber has been one of the beta testers, The Verge reported. 

Mehrotra is dead set on creating the most supportive ecosystem for how we now use documents—collaboratively. 

“We aren’t trying to digitize physical analogs any more; we’re using documents as tools to run our teams,” he wrote in the blog post. 

“Why are we still clinging to metaphors long-forgotten?”

“Why are we still clinging to metaphors long-forgotten: the accountant’s grid, the typist’s paper, the professor’s slides? Why do these tools insist on creating boundaries where we don’t need them — forcing us to choose between a document or a spreadsheet?” he continued. 

Some of the features of Coda include integrated commands. For example, type “GoogleDirections” and a Google Map with directions from an origin location to a destination will appear, according to The Verge

Coda is not completely intuitive, however. As Casey Newton of The Verge wrote, “In Asana I click buttons and they do basically what I expect; in Coda I type an equal sign and cross my fingers.”

The project still has a long way to go. The complete tool is only available in desktop. 

As of Thursday, anyone can request to join the beta at coda.io. 

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