CloudOn Raises $16M to Go Beyond Office for iPad Success

Palo Alto startup CloudOn today announced the successful close of a $16 million Series B round, led by The Social+Capital Partnership, and including TransLink Capital as well as existing investors Foundation Capital and Rembrandt Venture Partners. CloudOn’s sizeable Series B will help the mobile productivity company focus on going beyond its current comfort zone of virtualizing Microsoft Office on the iPad and Android tablets, and into new areas that emphasize collaboration, as well as other product and feature add-ons for its cross-platform workspace.

When we last spoke to CloudOn about its Android tablet launch, CEO Milind Gadekar expressed that the company wanted to go well beyond its roots and become a truly comprehensive solution for device-independent productivity. In a new interview with BetaKit to discuss this funding round, Gadekar mirrored his earlier sentiments and went into greater detail.

“With this Series B, we are going to leverage the success we’ve had and take it to the next level, of really defining mobile productivity,” he said. “When we define productivity, one could look at it from the PC era and say, how does one edit, review, and collaborate on a file. But now, fast forward into the mobile world, when someone has an iPhone, or a tablet or some other device, and how are we going to be more productive on these devices?”

It isn’t as simple as transposing the productivity tools and methods from the PC to mobile devices, Gadekar notes, and thus CloudOn is engaged in figuring out exactly what the future of mobile productivity will look like. He cites the work they’ve done with Office on the iPad, in terms of making it usable in an environment it wasn’t designed for, as an indicator of what’s coming next. CloudOn intends to make the experience with Office more robust, as well as become “more ubiquitous” in terms of where its products are available.

The need for CloudOn to expand and differentiate its offerings is actually becoming more imperative, too, as Microsoft has recently announced Surface and Windows Phone 8, both of which promise to ship with native Office offerings. Not to mention that rumors have long persisted that Microsoft will also offer a version of Office designed for the iPad, too (a November launch is the most recent date being thrown around).

CloudOn’s plans are much bigger than just Office, though, Gadekar notes above. He also points out that Microsoft is “playing in unfamiliar territory” in terms of the bring-your-own-device trend and fielding mobile hardware, so there’s no telling how Surface will fare with users once it comes to market. Regardless of its success, however, that doesn’t change the fact that the mobile world is, and will continue to be relatively fragmented, in terms of both devices and software.

“Today, our product is very much about individual productivity, and we understand that, but we see the opportunity in moving towards group producivity,” Gadekar said. “Group productivity has to take into account a diverse world, that understands there might be some people on Google, some people on Box, some people on Dropbox, some people on iWork and some people on Office, and how can you create an environment where all these people can work together?”

In addition to its consumer-facing opportunities, what CloudOn offers also has plenty of appeal for enterprise deployment, and that’s something Social+Capital General Partner Mamoon Hamid, who’s worked with both Box and Yammer, said that he recognized in a press release detailing the funding announcement. CloudOn has done well thus far, topping App Store charts in every market where it’s launched. Long-term, though, the key to continued success will be demonstrating value beyond its initial offerings, which is just where the company seems to be devoting its time, money and engineering effort.

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