Google is continuing its aggressive efforts to grow its role in the productivity applications space. But now, it’s snapping up DocVerseand its cloud-based collaboration add-on for archrival Microsoft Office.
That might seem like a counterintuitive acquisition for Google, which has long been pushing its own Google Apps suite as an alternative to Microsoft’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) Office lineup. But to Google and DocVerse, the move is one more step in the search giant’s campaign to woo Office customers to Google.
DocVerse, a San Francisco startup founded by two former Microsoft product managers, is designed to bring cloud-based collaboration features to Microsoft Office users, offering real-time sharing and editing of Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel files.
The company said its key advantage is that it does not require users learn a new way to work because DocVerse plugs right into Microsoft Office.
“We offer two simple features: One, it’s brain-dead simple to share your documents with other users; and two, we let multiple people edit documents at the same time without all the versioning hassles. We take care of all that in the background,” Shan Sinha, founder and CEO of DocVerse, told InternetNews.com.
Sinha said most users who need to collaborate are stuck e-mailing file attachments back and forth or other solutions that are “woefully broken.” While cloud-based applications like Google Docs and Zoho are one alternative, DocVerse decided to go after the huge base of over 600 million Office users worldwide, many of who are seen as unlikely to switch away from the Microsoft platform.
Jonathan Rochelle, group product manager for the Google Apps team, said DocVerse appealed to Google because it’s a complementary product without much overlap.
“The vision of DocVerse is so well-aligned with Google Apps. They were targeted at desktop users, so it’s a good combination,” Rochelle told InternetNews.com.
He said the companies are just starting to work out details of how the integration will work and there’s no timetable for when the Google offering will be available.
“It’s a nice add-on. We’re very optimistic,” he said.
Added DocVerse’s Sinha, “I’d say more strongly that we’re very, very confident the integration is going to go really well. We see a lot of natural complementary features in what we do.”
DocVerse has been Googled
Google typically doesn’t say that it’s targeting competitors, but DocVerse founders Sinha and CTO Alex DeNeui were more blunt in a blog post titled, “DocVerse has been Googled!“
“We fundamentally believe that Google is one of the best-positioned companies to truly disrupt the world of productivity software. We’re looking forward to the opportunity to scale our vision at Google. Our first step will be to combine DocVerse with Google Apps to create a bridge between Microsoft Office and Google Apps. I look forward to sharing more about our plans in the near future.”
The DocVerse acquisition is one of several moves Google has made to woo Microsoft users to Google Apps. Last year, it unveiled Apps Synch for Microsoft Outlook, a plug-in designed to help companies move off Microsoft’s Exchange server to Google’s cloud service, with the option to maintain Outlook’s interface and features.
DocVerse launched as a beta early last year and released its finished version in October. The company is suspending new subscriber sign-ups while it makes the transition to Google, where it will join the Google Apps suite. Existing customers will continue to be supported.
The company said its initial investors were the same ones who initially backed Google, PayPal and Twitter, and their advisory board includes executives from Microsoft, Google and Adobe. Rochelle said the Google and DocVerse started talking about ways they could work together about six months ago.
David Needle is the West Coast bureau chief at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.