Google Buys Writely and the Calacanis Watch

Google’s purchase of online word processor Writely (as tipped by Om) puts the lie to repeated protestations from Google-ers that they aren’t after each piece of Microsoft’s business. Bing, bing, bing, off they go. Absolutely.

Now, however, a mild criticism of all the techno-utopianism out there. How many users does Writely have? Minimal. Less than the number of people who turn on Microsoft Word in the U.S. in the time you read this sentence. And have any of you boosters actually used Writely? It’s a fine tool, and I use it now and then, but a Word replacement it is not (yet). Sure, it could yet turn out to be disruptive, which would be great, but this game is far, far from over.

Finally, I think Google should, on principle, avoid completing construction of an online office automation suite in 2006. Why? Not because it shouldn’t buy Numsum or the like, but because Jason Calacanis would truly become even more insufferable about having repeatedly predicted it.


  1. What was the deal with Sun about Open Office all about ?

  2. The deal with open office was about toolbar downloads, I think.
    Buying Writely was probably the fastest way to recruit 4 Ajax experts. And they should buy numsum for the same reason.

  3. *would* become insufferable…I thought I already was!??!!?!?

  4. Good point. How about, “Would become even more insufferable”?

  5. Wondering how stock markets have reacted…

  6. fartikus says:

    normally i am cynical on these types of deals, but assuming the purchase price was not too outlandish, i think this is a good deal. writely today means very little to the world, that is true, but it is a fairly solid tool and there is enough there to grow into something that a fair number of people will actually use. the key feature is collaborative editing. .doc support is neat but in the future, xhtml will replace all proprietary document formats so i don’t see a real future in “word processing” as opposed to “web document processing”.
    there is great appeal in eliminating software. there is great appeal in truly service-based, location independent secure collaborative editing. the web office will happen.