Google acquires Web applications pioneer JotSpot

By : |November 1, 2006 0

By Eric Auchard

SAN FRANCISCO  – Google Inc. said it bought JotSpot, a Silicon Valley start-up that helped pioneer the market for collaborative business software like online spreadsheets, in the latest move by the Web search leader into territory dominated by Microsoft Corp.

In a statement on Google’s Web site, JotSpot’s co-founder and chief executive, Joe Kraus, said his company agreed to the takeover following a growing push by Google to offer competing software. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Three-year-old JotSpot had developed a series of online productivity software programs that offer many of the functions of Microsoft Office programs like Microsoft Word or Excel spreadsheets. But instead of running on individual computers, JotSpot applications are delivered as Web-based services.

Following the lead of companies like JotSpot, Mountain View, California-based Google entered the market this year by acquiring the Writely word processor and introducing other Web-based applications such as Google Spreadsheets and Google Calendar.

"It was pretty apparent that Google shared our vision for how groups of people can create, manage and share information online," said Kraus, who was also a co-founder of Excite, one of the Web’s first search sites started in 1994.

"We just felt like: ‘Gosh, that is very much in line with what we are doing,’" Kraus said of the takeover by Google.

JotSpot’s programs run on collaborative wiki software, a flexible form of Web publishing for groups that allows any approved user to edit or change individual documents. The idea for JotSpot grew out of using a wiki to brainstorm about potential ideas for founding a company, Kraus recalled.

The 27-employee company has helped popularize the idea that wikis are not just for software geeks but can be used within small groups by non-technical office workers or family groups to accomplish practical scheduling or financial tasks.

Based in Palo Alto, a few miles from Google’s headquarters, JotSpot has temporarily shut down new user registrations while it moves its Web services and existing customer data onto Google’s computer systems.

JotSpot has attracted 2,000 companies to use its software. It counts 30,000 paying customers and about 300,000 free users of its Web software tools. Kraus said his company would continue to support existing customers during the transition.

Asked whether Google planned to develop JotSpot’s wiki-based software system or move JotSpot to run on Google’s own underlying software system, Kraus declined to comment.

JotSpot was founded in 2003 with $300,000 from Kraus and co-founder Graham Spencer, who also helped start Excite.com. Two years ago, Silicon Valley venture capital firms Mayfield Fund and Redpoint Ventures invested another $4.2 million in JotSpot.

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