Kara Swisher

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Confirmed: Google Acquires DocVerse in Office Faceoff With Microsoft [UPDATED]

Please see this disclosure related to me and Google.

[UPDATE: Google confirmed the deal in a blog post, which you can read below, as well as in interviews BoomTown did today with execs at DocVerse and Google.]

Continuing its acquisition spree, Google has snapped up DocVerse, a start-up that allows users of Microsoft Office documents to collaborate in real-time on the Web, said several sources.

Sources said the price was in the $25 to $30 million range.

Founded by two ex-Microsoft (MSFT) execs in 2008, Shan Sinha and Alex DeNeui, San Francisco-based DocVerse has raised only $1.3 million in venture funding from Baseline Ventures, Harrison Metal and Naval Ravikant.

It’s yet another shot across Microsoft’s software bow by Google (GOOG), along with a range of other digital arenas such as cloud computing and mapping.

Google has been pushing its own cloud-based Google Docs, but it struggles against the Office juggernaut. Thus, a link with Office via DocVerse is a smart move.

Jonathan Rochelle, group product manager on the Google Apps team said that while some perceive the search giant as trying to compete directly with Office (a claim I openly scoffed at during the interview), Google did hear from customers that it wanted cloud-based functionality with Office.

“We heard from customers that there is a great need for help in the cloud,” he said. “This acquisition helps users move over the to cloud and expands our product.”

DocVerse CEO Sinha said his small company–under 20 employees, who will be moving down to the Googleplex HQ in Mountain View, Calif., immediately–had been talking to Google for a while.

“We were gaining traction in the product in large enterprises…so, it made sense, because we have a vision of a world of Web-based collaboration,” he said.

While Sinha said he admired what Microsoft had done with Office, he noted there is a need for more, and a hook-up with the powerful Google will help DocVerse do that sooner.

“Microsoft is doing a lot of great things for its customers who use its stack of software,” he said. “But we see a whole other world interested in the Web-based approach that is not being served very well right now.”

For its part, Microsoft has committed itself to moving its hugely popular productivity suite–which includes Word, PowerPoint and Excel–into the cloud, in order to protect its software hegemony.

Why? Simultaneous group-editing and collaboration online is clearly the future of Office.

In fact, yesterday, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer made a significant statement related to cloud computing in a speech, noting, “This is the bet for the company. For the cloud, we’re all in.”

In an interesting side note, this is the third company that Harrison Metal has invested in that has been acquired by Google over the last several months. Other sales have included AdMob for $750 million and Aardvark for $50 million.

There had been a post in TechCrunch back in December that the deal was nearly done, but it was apparently not completed until now.

Here is the blog post on the deal from Google:

Google Docs welcomes DocVerse

Friday, March 05, 2010 at 10:48 AM

?The future of productivity applications is in the cloud. We’ve always believed the web is the best platform for creating and sharing information, and Google Docs has already helped millions of people become more productive. But we recognize that many people are still accustomed to desktop software. So as we continue to improve Google Docs and Google Sites as rich collaboration tools, we’re also making it easier for people to transition to the cloud, and interoperate with desktop applications like Microsoft Office.
For example, we recently made it possible to use Google Docs to store and share any type of file that you have on your computer, not just the ones you create online. Today we’re excited to announce another step towards seamless interoperability: we have acquired DocVerse.

DocVerse is a small, nimble team of talented developers who share our vision, and they’ve enabled true collaboration right within Microsoft Office. With DocVerse, people can begin to experience some of the benefits of web-based collaboration using the traditional Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint desktop applications.

A huge “welcome” to the DocVerse team and their customers! Current DocVerse users can keep using the product as usual, though we’ve suspended new sign-ups until we’re ready to share what’s next. Stay tuned!

Posted by Jonathan Rochelle, Group Product Manager, Google Apps team

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus