Installing software to collaborate on PowerPoint slides is a drag. Signing into web-hosting services like GoToMeeting, for the same reason, isn’t much better.
Microsoft knows this, so it set out to solve the problem — but not by assigning a team of engineers and UX experts to come up with a remedy. Instead it decided to buy a startup that had already found an answer.
Late yesterday a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed the company had acquired Office productivity tool maker LiveLoop. Here’s what the statement said:
“Microsoft is excited to welcome the talented team from LiveLoop to help build great collaboration across Office applications, as part of our strategy and vision to reinvent productivity.”
LiveLoop will be permanently shuttered on April 24, the site acknowledges.
The terms of the sale have not been disclosed.
A Little Background
LiveLoop’s LinkedIn profile identifies the company as “a Microsoft PowerPoint plug-in that brings truly real time cloud-based collaboration to PowerPoint's 750 million users, enabling teams to collaborate effectively without leaving the familiar Microsoft Office ecosystem.
"Instead of emailing dozens of versions of a presentation back and forth, with filenames like Marketing_v133_Final_v2_ReallyFinal, LiveLoop’s users work on a single version of their presentation, seeing each other's changes as they type.”
But evidence suggests that the vision of LiveLoop’s team was to eventually work with documents of all types, not just PowerPoint slides.
In fact LiveLoop’s self-authored CrunchBase profile reads:
LiveLoop enables real-time document collaboration within the familiar enterprise desktop environment. LiveLoop's first product is both a PowerPoint plug-in and a hosted service that together enable PowerPoint users to work with each other on the same document at the same time. Instead of emailing dozens of attachments back and forth, LiveLoop users can edit their documents at any time, seeing their colleagues' edits in true keystroke-by-keystroke real time.”
The company’s five employees sport pedigrees from MIT, Stanford, and the University of Michigan. CEO and co-founder Amal Dorai, an MIT grad, formerly worked as a business analyst at McKinsey & Co. Co-founder David Nelson, CTO, another MIT grad, formerly worked as a research scientist at Xerox.
Along with technology, Microsoft is buying brains, ability and imagination.
If what happened in the past informs what happens next, then it’s likely that LiveLoop’s PowerPoint solution will be integrated into the Office 365 family much the same way Accompli was. As a result there will be no need to reach for non-Microsoft tools.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has a vision of a mobile-first, cloud-first world. The acquisition of LiveLoop is another step along the way.