Ex-Facebook CTO Bret Taylor launches Quip word processor

His startup unveils what it calls a modern word processor that allows for collaborative document editing across myriad mobile and desktop devices.

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Steven Musil
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Quip's desktop, featuring collaborative editing. Quip

Bret Taylor, the former CTO at Facebook and an engineer who helped launch Google Maps, has launched a new company called Quip intent on creating a "productivity suite for the mobile era."

Along with Kevin Gibbs, the former technical lead on the Google App Engine team, Taylor has built what he calls a modern word processor that allows for collaborative document editing across myriad mobile and desktop devices. The company, which has reportedly raised $15 million in venture capital, launched an iOS app Tuesday evening.

The pair said they are motivated by the growing trend of accessing the Internet on mobile devices without ever touching a desktop PC. Using as an example MacWrite, a graphical word processor released with the original Macintosh in 1984, the pair pointed out in a blog post Tuesday evening that productivity software has changed little in the past 30 years.

With the exception of some additional color and and a stack of toolbars at the top of the screen, it doesn't look different from the software that probably came bundled with your current laptop. We still use the same metaphors and the same workflow that we used when shoulder pads and leg warmers were cool.

That entrenched mode of thinking has hobbled both users and developers, the two posit:

The features these products have accrued over thirty years have made it difficult for most of us to switch to new products, but they have also made it almost impossible for the products to truly change. When we decided to build Quip, it was based on the premise that the shift to tablets and phones is so fundamental and so all-encompassing that it dwarfs the sum of all of these features in importance.

For their break with legacy software, the two men have developed a platform based on how they believe modern mobile documents should operate. The word processor combines documents and messages into a single thread that can be edited by users on any device, including desktops. But the one of the program's strengths, they say, is its ability to automatically format to mobile devices' screen sizes, eliminating the need to pinch zoom to read a document.

It also sports a shared folders feature that allows real-time collaborative editing and discussion and automatically notifies users when new content is added.

In addition to the iOS app released tonight, Quip has published an Android Preview Release version to the Google Play Store.

While Quip is free for personal use, the company intends to offer subscription-based services to businesses.

Quip mobile notifications. Quip