Quip Builds for Computing Everywhere

Quip Builds for Computing Everywhere

Maybe it isn’t about mobility after all — instead, it’s about putting computing everywhere. That could mean big changes for the way people design and build their computer systems.

On Wednesday, a company called Quip, which makes an advanced mobile tool for creation and collaboration around things like documents, spreadsheets and presentations, announced it is releasing a version of its software for desktops.

Quip is not just reinventing Microsoft Office 25 years after the fact. It has built a kind of distributed computing system, the sort of thing seen in the biggest data centers, across a series of cloud computers and mobile devices.

Quip is small, but its pedigree wins it outsized attention. It was founded by Bret Taylor and Kevin Gibbs, who have worked on things like Google Maps, early versions of what is now the Google Cloud Platform, and Facebook.

Search your computer for a document, and the Quip tool also reads what is stored in the cloud, without you drawing on the computer’s browser. Create or update a document while your laptop is out of Wi-Fi range, and those changes are synced with the cloud and all your other devices the next time you get the machine online.

“We think of it as building a suite of devices that are working with each other,” said Mr. Taylor, who is Quip’s chief executive. “The implication here is, you have computing in the form you want for wherever you are at the time.”

What they are doing in this case — a distributed system of cloud and devices — is also part of a larger trend to utilize as much computing as possible, wherever possible. Amazon’s Silk browser, used in the Kindle tablet computer, had attributes of local and cloud computing.

Inside our big computing centers, companies like Docker enable people to write applications that go across the servers, and also affect software inside devices. A newer version of that kind of computing, called Mesos, is a distributed system that pools the resources of many computers, including ultimately perhaps both Docker and several data centers at once.

Quip claims it is used by 30,000 businesses, including Instacart, Stripe, and CNN, altogether involving millions of people. There is a free version for consumers, and a business version that begins at about $12 a person per month.

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