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Salesforce's $750M Quip Buy Shows Importance of Content to CRM

While Salesforce didn’t shout from the rooftops about its recent decision to acquire the “living document” platform provider Quip, it clearly sees big potential in integrating Quip’s offerings into its own.

Quip, a four-year-old San Francisco-based tech firm with just about 40 employees, is on track to become a wholly owned subsidiary of Salesforce, which is paying an estimated $750 million for the company.

Since news of the transaction emerged with Salesforce’s August 1 8-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company has said little more about its plans. But Quip’s platform promises to bring significant value to sales and marketing activities.

Founded in 2012 by Facebook and Google veterans on a mission to “redefine productivity software,” Quip offers a cloud-based platform for “helping organization work less dumb,” the company said on its Web site. Its software enables business users to create living documents where they can share content, spreadsheet data, links, updates and chats from a single hub.

Quip’s ‘Living Documents’

“As part of Salesforce, we will be able to expand our service more quickly and reach millions of people all over the world — which has been our mission since day one,” Quip CEO Bret Taylor and head of engineering Kevin Gibbs wrote in a blog post when the acquisition was announced. By combining forces with Salesforce, “the possibilities of mixing data, content and communication are amazing,” they said.

Before launching Quip, Taylor was the CTO of Facebook and Gibbs was the tech lead for Google’s App Engine. Taylor is also a veteran of Google, where he started the Developer product group.

Quip launched the first version of its flagship offering in July 2013. At the time, Taylor and Gibbs described it as a “modern word processor that enables you to create beautiful documents on any device — phones, tablets and the desktop.” The company has since updated the platform with a variety of other features, including support for social interactions and search, chat rooms and, most recently, its living documents design.

A living document, “tells you when your colleague updates the sales figures; it buzzes your phone when a task is assigned to you; it’s constantly bubbling with your team’s feedback; it’s always updated with the data you need,” Quip staffers Nate Botwick and Edmond Lau wrote in a blog post in February.

‘More To Come’ After Close

In its SEC filing, Salesforce described Quip as “a next-generation productivity platform designed for teams, combining communication and content to enable collaboration within documents or spreadsheets, on phones, tablets, wearables and the desktop.”

A spokesperson for Salesforce told us today that the company was not sharing any further details about the acquisition at this time, but said that there would be more to come following the closing of the sale, which is expected to happen sometime before the end of October.

Salesforce’s acquisition of Quip is “not only a shot across the bow at Microsoft (and Google) but has deep implications for the future of the entire colaboration and CRM market,” Alex Gorbansky, CEO of the marketing-focused knowledge management firm Docurated wrote in a post on Venture Beat Saturday.

The transaction is a sign of how CRM is converging with collaboration and document management, and of how document management is becoming increasingly relevant to sales, he said.

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