- Four years after being acquired by Salesforce, Quip has evolved from a standalone productivity and collaboration tool to a product that is embedded directly into Salesforce’s customer focused tools.
- Quip is best known for its co-founder Bret Taylor, who is now Salesforce’s COO, but the product itself has become core to Salesforce’s mission of giving organizations a “360 degree” view of their customers. It’s meant to make Salesforce easier to use.
- Quip is now run by Ryan Aytay, who focuses on the customer facing and business side, and original co-founder Kevin Gibbs, who focuses on engineering and product. Both are co-CEOs of Quip.
- Quip is seeing a big uptick in usage during this remote work era, according to a recent report and Salesforce internal figures.
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When the University of San Francisco asked Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff to help source personal protective equipment for its medical workers in early March, he turned to one of his senior executives, Ryan Aytay, to help organize the effort.
Within days, Aytay pulled together a team of employees from within Salesforce to put aside their day-to-day jobs and focus on a task that included working with partners like Alibaba to find trusted PPE vendors. Their efforts were a success: Salesforce bought over $25 million-worth of PPE — more than 50 million pieces — to send to hospitals and agencies in need. To organize that effort, from sourcing to shipping, Aytay used Quip — a productivity tool Salesforce acquired in 2016 for $750 million.
Quip is best known because of the rapid rise through the ranks of co-founder Bret Taylor, who is now Salesforce’s chief operating officer, while less is known about where the product stands now. Four years post-acquisition, Quip has evolved from a standalone productivity and collaboration tool with built-in office suite functionality to a product that is embedded directly into Salesforce’s customer focused tools and a core part of the company’s business.
“We make it easier for anyone that uses Salesforce to know everything about a customer, everything that drives whatever they’re doing, whether it’s closing a deal or a service ticket or any process they want to do,” Quip co-founder and co-CEO Kevin Gibbs told Business Insider. “We can make all of the users of Salesforce products more productive because we’re getting all of that customer information at their fingertips.”
Quip is now jointly run by Aytay, who focuses on the customer facing and business side, and original co-founder Gibbs, who focuses on engineering and product. In addition to running Quip, both have dual roles within Salesforce. Aytay also oversees strategic partnerships and key projects for Benioff and was recently promoted to Salesforce’s chief business officer, and Gibbs also runs engineering and strategy for Salesforce’s mobile apps.
Evolving from a standalone productivity app to integrating with Salesforce
Quip has undergone a significant transformation in recent years under the leadership of Aytay and Gibbs. In its original form it was a collaboration app that let users create, annotate, and chat about documents or spreadsheets in real-time, competing against Google Drive, Microsoft Office, and even Slack.
While it still exists as a standalone productivity app that costs between $10 and $25 per user per month, Salesforce primarily pushes it as part of its larger “Customer 360” set of products. That means that it’s now deeply integrated into Salesforce’s existing tools and meant to help make them easier to use, allowing people to collaborate and share information directly within Salesforce in new ways.
“We are about making Salesforce better,” Aytay said. “It’s about connecting the productivity component and the CRM context.”
Here’s what using Quip through Salesforce might look like:
A salesperson trying to close a deal with a new customer would ordinarily have to send that prospect an email with details to close a deal. With Quip, however, they could instead send a document that automatically pulls relevant data from their Salesforce database (to edit the document the customer would have to sign up for a Quip account, but just to read it they wouldn’t have to). Then, when a deal gets approved through Quip, it’s automatically recorded in a salesperson’s Salesforce database.
Aytay calls it “extending” the capabilities of Salesforce via Quip and says that the product isn’t trying to compete with the likes of Google Drive or Microsoft anymore. Instead, it’s trying to partner with those apps. Quip allows users to embed a Google document or spreadsheet in the tool and integrates with Slack as well.
Ultimately, Aytay and Gibbs believes that Quip allows Salesforce users to be more productive: Instead of needing to switch between a bunch of different apps, they can access all the information they need in once place.
“You’re eliminating the need for someone to swivel-chair through email or swivel-chair to some spreadsheet or some other messaging application,” Aytay said, “Because it’s now all encapsulated inside of Salesforce.”
Existing Salesforce customers pay an add-on fee for Quip integration, though prices differ between customers and there is no one set price.
Quip in the remote work era
Like most productivity software, Quip is seeing a big uptick in usage right now during the coronavirus-related remote work era. Quip usage increased 15% between February and March, according to a report from security company Okta about the most popular workplace apps during remote work.
Salesforce doesn’t break out individual user numbers for its products, but confirmed that more businesses are signing up for Quip during the coronavirus crisis. Quip signed up 62% more customers per week between mid-March and mid-April than it signed up between mid-December and mid-March, Salesforce said. Users are also sending 20% more messages in Quip during the remote work era.
Though it declined to share Quip’s revenue growth, Salesforce includes it in its “Salesforce Platform and Other” category in its quarterly earnings, along with several others businesses like Tableau and Trailhead. That category grew 62% year-over-year as of its last report.
Salesforce employees are using the product more too, including to share information with customers, he said. Salesforce is reimagining how it operates, its sales people are working from home, using video calls, and collaborating in Quip. That’s also allowing them to easily share information with customers because “we’re not able to go out and shake their hands and each and every day,” he added.
Although Quip wasn’t built specifically for remote work, the fact that it allows easy collaboration and access to information in the CRM system means that the product is especially useful right now, Gibbs said. He wants Quip to be the place where sales people, service agents, developers, and anyone else who uses Saleforce’s customer facing tools can get work done.
As a result of the pandemic, every business now has to rethink how it operates — from how it sells products to how it’s providing customer service.
The effort that Quip’s engineering and product teams have put into integrating the product over the last few years means its “very relevant” right now, Aytay said: “The things you did every single day before are different now.”
Fitting into Salesforce without losing Quip’s company culture
As Quip has evolved, Gibbs’ team has made user needs and experiences a priority, trying to figure out where Quip can help improve productivity for their specific jobs. The goal is to make sure the product design reflects the ways people are actually using it. Gibbs said he is still learning about how industries like healthcare and finance can best utilize Quip’s capabilities.
Quip customers that used the app before the acquisition are new customer prospects for Salesforce’s core customer-focused software, and it tries to show them the value of integrating productivity and sales tools. Salesforce declined to name specific customers.
While Quip’s product has been deeply integrated with Salesforce, Quip’s workforce and company structure has largely stayed separate and intact. Many of Quip’s employees have stayed with the company since it joined Salesforce, and even risen up through the ranks. Gibbs said that was a quality that appealed to him during the acquisition process.
“What I think Salesforce does an amazing job of is not mandating how people integrate and work together but, instead, talking about values,” Gibbs said. “I didn’t have to sort of contort myself to a new way of being, as being part of Salesforce.”
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