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August 25, 2020

Interview w/Shishir Mehrotra, Powering the Maker Generation at Coda

Bringing Words, Data, and Teams Together

Powering the Maker Generation

Bringing Words, Data, and Teams Together

By: Sarah Guo & Greylock Partners

Productivity software startup Coda was founded to empower anyone to make a document as powerful as an app, no engineering required. More than 25,000 teams around the world now use Coda to build, track and share a wide range of projects and workflow systems, and the company just closed an $80 million Series C round. Now that many businesses have no choice but to be distributed, Coda has seen accelerating adoption as a central collaboration hub within companies.

The concept of Coda grew from ideas formed by CEO and co-founder Shishir Mehrotra over the course of his career (which includes leadership roles at YouTube and Microsoft), with a mission of enabling what he calls the Maker Generation: allowing a much wider pool of people to create and build a broader array of products regardless of their skill set. In his words, “Coda will do to software what online video (at YouTube) did to cable, just as cable did to broadcast.”

In the latest Greymatter podcast, Greylock general partner Sarah Guo and Shishir discuss how Coda has operated partially distributed and software-first since its inception, which Mehrotra says inspired the company to design structured meeting protocols and build (Coda-based) tools to ensure productivity and inclusivity no matter where team members are. The harder part, he says, is recreating the traditionally unstructured – but critically important – time people spend together as a company in informal and historically in-person environments. They talk about the background to Shishir’s Guide to Distributed Teams, and how his philosophy on distributed team leadership is still evolving.

They also discuss why Shishir believes “the world runs on docs, not apps,” why the core metaphors for productivity systems are stagnant, solving the “tragedy of the commons in enterprise software,” the most commonly pressed three buttons in SaaS, why you want structured participation in your board meetings, lessons learned from the in-office (and not) cultures of Microsoft and Google, and his predictions for the future of productivity. This episode is part of Greylock’s #WorkFromAnywhere podcast series hosted by Sarah and David Thacker.

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