CloudOn cracked the mobile productivity Holy Grail by providing iOS and Android tablet users with native access to Microsoft Office and Adobe Reader.
Now, with $16 million in Series B funding announced today, the company is planning to make productivity applications ubiquitous across all devices and platforms.
The financing was led by The Social+Capital Partnership with participation from TransLink Capital and existing investors Foundation Capital and Rembrandt Venture Partners. Social+Capital general partner Mamoon Hamid is joining CloudOn’s board of directors.
“Social+Capital understands the consumerization of IT and understands enterprise,” says founder and CEO Milind Gadekar. “The firm was started by former Facebook platform executive Chamath Palihapitiya and has since invested in both Box and Yammer.”
Having launched in January, CloudOn has already seen more than 1 million downloads of its iPad and Android tablet apps and has quickly shot to the No. 1 productivity app with each new country and platform launch.
This growth is possible, because the solution it offers addresses a major consumer and enterprise pain point centering around the portability limitations of workplace applications. As much as people like social networks, games, and cat videos, there’s an enormous desire to unchain productivity from the desktop.
“Productivity as we know it has been designed by Microsoft for a Windows environment,” says Gadekar. “Creating, editing, reviewing, and sharing content in their current form was not designed for mobile use. People want to be mobile and not tied down to a PC. For this to be possible, the productivity model has to be reinvented.”
If CloudOn were focusing solely on mobilizing Microsoft Office, it would be easy to argue that they would eventually be crushed by their partners in Redmond. Gadekar is thinking much bigger, however. “We know that Microsoft wants to use Office as crown jewel to highlight Windows 8 (and likely Windows Phone 8),” he says.
The company is therefore building a cloud infrastructure to allow users to access any application from any device. “Dropbox and Box already mobilized files from any device,” says Gadekar. “Instead we’re tackling the mobilization of applications.” Much like the mobility promise of Google’s Chrome OS, CloudOn seems to envision a future where each user’s working environment is fully portable.
The company plans to roll out its service across iOS and Android smartphones, then PCs, Macs, and HTML5 mobile browsers. The timing couldn’t be better. With the increasing popularity of the “bring your own device” phenomenon and rapidly improving mobile connectivity, this solution is quickly transitioning from a “wish” to a “need.”
The company has yet to monetize its product, instead focusing on user acquisition and engagement. “One doesn’t become a platform until you have enough eyeballs and users engaging with your product,” says Gadekar. In the future, likely as soon as the second half of this year, the company will transition to a freemium model charging for premium features or extended usage.
With the additional capital, CloudOn’s plans to focus on the two aspects which its CEO calls critical for the success of startups. The first is building a team that can execute the vision. He plans to increase his current team of 25 by 50 percent, focusing almost exclusively on the areas of engineering and product development. Second, he said he’s determined to make sure that CloudOn has staying power, as he’s well aware that “economic and competitive forces that you can’t see today can change the landscape right under your feet.”
Since its launch, CloudOn has expanded to 19 additional North American and European countries, becoming the No. 1 free app in 10 countries and the No. 1 productivity app in 18 countries. The company has existing partnerships with Microsoft, Adobe, Dropbox, Box and Google, with additional partnerships and workspace application integrations planned.
“Our goal is to create the most usable and comprehensive mobile productivity solution on the market,” says the founder.