Podio Plugs Google Docs Into Its Collaboration Tools

Startup Podio says it just addressed one of the top feature requests from the 40,000 companies that use its collaboration tools — it now integrates with Google Docs.

When TechCrunch’s Alexia Tsotsis wrote about Podio a year ago, she called it “Yammer with its own app store and app builder.” Judging from the demo I saw earlier this week, many aspects of the basic interface will indeed feel natural to Yammer users (or really anyone who can handle a threaded conversation), but as Alexia’s description suggests, Podio’s real selling point is extensibility — if Podio doesn’t have a feature you want, you can build a simple app for it, and the company also integrates with other online services through its APIs.

One of the company’s goals, says VP of Apps Ryan Nichols, is getting as much information into Podio as possible. He argues that existing chat and project management tools can create an unnatural divide — you do your work, and then you go to a website where you talk about doing your work.

Podio, on the other hand, should be the place “where you actually get work done.” So everything on the site is associated with a file. You can create a conversation and assign tasks around a document or a spreadsheet, replacing the tedious and confusing back-and-forth that can happen over email.

Until now, however, you couldn’t do that with Google Docs — or rather, if you wanted to include Docs, you had to use a clumsy workaround like pasting the links into Podio and hoping the invites and permissions worked properly. With the new integration, Google Docs work like any other file in Podio.

This builds on a feature released last December, Podio for Google Apps, which allows you to turn Gmail messages into actionable tasks. With these integrations, Podio is hoping to both appease existing customers and reach new ones. However, in Europe (which makes up 40 percent of Podio’s customer base, and a higher percentage of premium customers), Nichols says penetration of Google Apps is relatively low, so there’s also an opportunity to introduce Apps to Podio customers.