Ex-Facebook CTO Bret Taylor Announces Launch Of Quip Word Processor

By David Cohen 

When Chief Technology Officer Bret Taylor left Facebook last year to launch a startup with Kevin Gibbs, his friend, the founder and tech lead of the Google App Engine and creator of Google Suggest, would “word processor” have been anyone’s guess as to what they would create?

Taylor and Gibbs late Tuesday announced the launch of Quip, which they described as “a modern word processor that enables you to create beautiful documents on any device — phones, tablets, and the desktop.”

Quip is initially available for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch, and an Android version is in the works, with a preview version available in Google Play.

In their blog post introducing Quip, Taylor and Gibbs discussed how smartphones and tablets have transformed the way people communicate, but word processors have not evolved at anywhere near the same rate, sharing a screenshot of MacWrite, the software released with Apple’s original Macintosh in 1984,and writing:

With the exception of some additional color 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.

Taylor and Gibbs discussed Quip’s features enabling users to share documents and collaborate via different platforms and devices in their blog post:

We designed Quip with four core design goals:

  • Collaboration: When you write a document, you almost always want to share with someone else. Quip combines documents and messages into a single chat-like “thread” of updates. You can all edit the same document — no matter what device you’re on — and don’t have to bounce back and forth to email to talk about it.
  • Mobility: Quip works on the desktop, but it really shines on phones and tablets. Quip documents automatically format to the size of your screen — no more pinch zooming just to read a document! The product also works perfectly offline, syncing whenever you have an Internet connection. Whether you’re writing a document on an airplane or on the subway with a spotty Internet connection, Quip just works.
  • Interactivity: You can print Quip documents, but nowadays, we tend to read on touch-screens rather than printing. That’s why Quip documents aren’t just typeset words on a page — they’re truly interactive. You can turn a bulleted list into a checklist, transforming your meeting notes into a shared task list. You can @mention other documents to link between them. You can create a table of sales data, and your entire team can type data into the table at the same time.
  • Simplicity: Back in the early days of GUI (graphical user interface) development, there was a popular saying: “Easy is hard.” When designing a user interface, it’s much harder to remove something than to add in something new. We’ve worked hard to simplify the Quip interface, to leave you with a minimal, elegant design that helps you focus on writing — not ribbons.

Quip is available free-of-charge to individual users and on a subscription basis for businesses.

Readers: Are you surprised about the product created by Taylor and Gibbs?