Google is moving in on yet another acquisition. This time the search giant reportedly has its eye on a plug-in that lets people collaborate around Microsoft Office documents.
According to published reports, Google is acquiring a San Francisco-based startup called DocVerse for about $25 million. The acquisition could undergird Google's recent Appjet purchase. Appjet is the maker of Etherpad, which also offers Microsoft Office collaboration capabilities.
DocVerse officially launched on Oct. 28 to serve the 600 million Office users looking for a better way to edit and share Microsoft documents. DocVerse is a plug-in for Microsoft Office that turns the suite of productivity applications into web-enabled collaboration tools and allows real-time sharing and simultaneous group editing of documents.
Grabbing MS Talent?
With DocVerse, Google would not only pick up a product to help its users bridge the Office gap. It could also pick up two Microsoft veterans, Shan Sinha and Alex DeNeui.
The duo founded DocVerse in 2007 to eliminate the constant back-and-forth e-mail attachments required to share and edit Word, PowerPoint and Excel documents. Sinha oversaw Microsoft's product strategy for the $1.6 billion SharePoint business and $3 billion SQL Server business while DeNeui oversaw Microsoft's SQL Server web strategy.
Sinha is no stranger to entrepreneurship. He cofounded two venture-backed startups, one of which has already been acquired. He also has fund-raising skills. DocVerse raised its first round of investment in 2008, $1.3 million from Baseline Ventures, Naval Ravikant, and Harrison Metal Capital.
DeNeui also brings experience to the startup. Before his tenure with Microsoft, he founded a Kleiner Perkins-backed enterprise software company delivering IT automation services. It's not clear whether the duo will join Google or move on to another startup if their company is acquired.
Microsoft Fights Back with Office 2010
Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence, called the reported acquisition "interesting." Although DocVerse was founded by ex-Microsoft talent, he said, the application's philosophy, with its cloud and collaboration capabilities, is very much consistent with Google Wave and Google's efforts with its Apps and Docs suites.
"This also seems like a tool that will make Google Docs and Apps more useful in recognition of the fact that most people for the foreseeable future are going to be using Microsoft Office," Sterling said. "Yet this speeds the transition to the cloud and provides a bridge of sorts between Microsoft Office and Google Docs."
Of course, Microsoft is also moving into the cloud with its Office 2010, which will combat Google Docs. Microsoft released the beta version of Office 2010 in November with hopes that millions of people would download and test the product and offer feedback.
Microsoft is rolling out several new features in Office 2010 to sharpen its chances against an aggressive Google. One key new offering is the Outlook Social Connector, which brings communications history, business collaboration, and social-network feeds directly into Outlook, with support for Windows Live and SharePoint server.