Interviews

Bret Taylor Of Quip: What's Not To Like?

Ever wondered who invented the 'Like' button on Facebook? Well it was this guy. He also had a big hand in creating Google Maps. What's the betting Bret Taylor's latest start-up, Quip, is a decent bit of kit too?

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Ever wondered who invented the 'Like' button on Facebook? Well it was this guy. He also had a big hand in creating Google Maps. What's the betting Bret Taylor's latest start-up, Quip, is a decent bit of kit too?

Interviews

Bret Taylor Of Quip: What's Not To Like?

Ever wondered who invented the 'Like' button on Facebook? Well it was this guy. He also had a big hand in creating Google Maps. What's the betting Bret Taylor's latest start-up, Quip, is a decent bit of kit too?

Share this article

Bret Taylor Of Quip: What's Not To Like?

Bret Taylor became CTO of Facebook after it acquired FriendFeed, the company he co-founded in 2007. Bret is known for having developed the famous Facebook ‘Like’ button as well as co-creating Google Maps while at Google. He is currently CEO and co-founder at Quip.

Tell us about your decision to leave Facebook for a new start-up

Working at Facebook gave me a front row seat to how big the shift to mobile really is. I realised it was a once in a lifetime change - as big as the introduction of the personal computer - and shifts like this are a unique opportunity for startups. I love building companies so I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity.

What is Quip and what's new?

Since its inception in 2013, we've grown Quip from a new product used by a handful of early adopters to a mature collaboration tool used by hundreds of thousands of people and over 10,000 companies across the world.

In a nutshell, Quip is a beautiful mobile productivity suite that enables you to collaborate on any device. We're on a mission to break down the barriers of the traditional productivity suite; we want Quip to be the one tool you need to run your company from any device.

"Everything can now be a social experience if you want it to be"

With our latest update, we've added Chat Rooms so teams can use use Quip as a collaboration hub and reduce dependence on email at the same time. Email is the most overused collaboration tool in the world; most people becoming exhausted by the unread count on their inbox. Chat is a much simpler, faster way to organise team discussions.

How has your background with Facebook and Google Maps shaped how you developed Quip?

My background has certainly given me an international mindset. People work more and more as global teams, and are looking for their technology to make that easier. The software that many of us are using was born in the 80s, when a lot of the problems we currently have in collaborating across borders and devices couldn't even have been imagined.

Throw mobile into the mix as a defining global trend and it was clear to me what needed to be built to help. The importance of different regions, languages and countries cannot be overlooked in Facebook and Google's success — that's why international expansion in very high on our list of priorities, and its why Quip is currently available in 12 languages, and counting.

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What is your view of the influence of social media on business tools?

Social by itself is not a product, but rather a way to design a product. The internet has really embraced this in the last few years: everything can now be a social experience if you want it to be — from sharing content, to making a purchase, to listening to music.

Why not apply the same design principle to products you use to get work done? Companies are, after all, just groups of people working together, so giving them the tools to collaborate more efficiently beyond just sending email back and forth is a no-brainer.

bret taylor Quip 2

Taylor speaking at a Techcrunch event in 2009: There's no reason why work shouldn't be social too

Social software we use outside of work, like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Twitter, are all simple, elegant, and convenient — and, most importantly, integrated with my phone, so I can communicate whether or not I am near a computer.

Work software, meanwhile, whether used for an expense report or to share a document, is typically tethered to the PC on our desks. The user interfaces are barely functional and almost completely devoid of emotion and the feeling of genuine human interaction.

Quip, along with a number of other promising young startups, is trying to reverse this trend, and we're making progress. People's expectations for software have fundamentally changed in the age of devices like the iPhone. If the software you use at work doesn't work well, you'll just download a different app from the App Store and use something else. For the first time, a great product matters a lot more than a great sales team.

Do you think new social tools are helping small start-ups to prosper?

Social tools like Facebook enable start-ups to have an instant distribution mechanism. Instead of having to pay for traditional marketing, start-ups can build a brand and a customer base much more easily from scratch.

Those networks also enable startups to have a close, and conversational, relationship with their customers and target audience, whilst also building their company's brand and personality online. With these things combined, we're seeing new companies able to get ahead, get competitive and grow, much more quickly.

Why did you choose to add a 'Like' feature in Quip?

Before adding it to Facebook, we first launched “Like” at FriendFeed in 2007. People used FriendFeed to socialise and comment on the stuff they shared from sites around the Web, and we wanted to give people a quick, easy way to share their appreciation for the most engaging entries from their friends.

In Quip, the Like button provides a quick and easy way to give feedback on edits or messages, particularly when using a mobile device. Instead of having to respond to every edit or message with “sounds good” or “I agree”, now you can just use Like. This is particularly powerful on mobile where quickly liking an edit signals agreement and saves you the burden of typing on a small keyboard.

What can the London technology scene learn from the successes of Silicon Valley?

The three key ingredients to a strong tech industry are: 1) engineers and entrepreneurs, 2) venture capital, and 3) a culture of risk taking. With a growing number of success stories such as Shazam, it's clear London has all of these, but the third ingredient is uniquely strong in Silicon Valley - both entrepreneurs and investors are more willing to fail here than any other place.

What is your best tip for someone starting a tech business?

Recruiting is one of the most challenging aspects of building a start-up. You typically have to convince people to leave a comfortable, high paid job for the potential that your small business becomes something much larger and much more significant.

That’s a skill that I think a lot of people don’t have when they’re founding their first business. I think it comes down to understanding the strengths of what you’re building and really convincing people of the reasons why you are doing this. Take them on the same journey that you have been on so that they come out with a great deal of confidence in the potential of your future your company.

What do you hope Quip will grow to in the future?

Our goal with Quip is to be the essential productivity suite for the mobile era. We want to be as important to the era of smartphones and tablets as Microsoft Office was for the era of PCs.

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Bret Taylor Of Quip: What's Not To Like?

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