Mark Mader: One of the categories that really took quite some time to move was one of the biggest ones, the Office Suite. As we look at all the different categories that are forming today, many of them have direct analogs to the pre-cloud world. One of the things that we found fascinating was that as Office was trying to figure out what its life in the cloud was going to be, there were two big companies that were going to help shape that. Microsoft being the obvious one and the other one was Google. They are working to bring the traditional Office Suite and the components of Office – Word, Excel, and PowerPoint – to the cloud.
What we found, as a huge opportunity, was if Office was going to be reinvented in the modern day with these mobile devices in the cloud, would it really look as Office was defined 20 years ago? We answered that with an absolute no. It would be a hybrid that merges the elements that people value and utilize very often in conjunction with one another. If you had the ability to combine the flexibility of your spreadsheet with the ability to associate files in that spreadsheet, that would be like a SharePoint element. If you add the ability to track a plan or capture forms, that would be a piece of Microsoft Project and Access respectively. If you merge all of those together, would that be a more effective and more compelling utility that people would use?
It’s a very broad market because nearly a billion people have used the Office Suite to manage work. That’s the category that we’re innovating in. We are becoming an essential utility for tens of thousands of companies who are looking for how to progress from how they manage work previously in that suite to how they’re going to do it in the future.
Sramana Mitra: What is your vision? You said categorically that the vision of Microsoft Office from the legacy times is not your vision. Can you articulate what are the differences in how you view the world?
Mark Mader: The starkest difference is that we are a hybrid of multiple concepts. Instead of having them segregated – having your spreadsheet to track numbers, your SharePoint to store your files, and Access or Google Forms to capture information – fuse those into a single offering. So somebody who wants to track a list with files associated with them – who has a need to have a date awareness so that they can be alerted properly when change occurs – can do that in Smartsheet. That is something which neither Google nor Microsoft are pursuing today. They are continuing to develop on these very discreet product lines.