I’m excited to announce we’re removing the beta tag from SocialCalc, the world’s first social spreadsheet. Today marks the 30th anniversary that SocialCalc’s creator Dan Bricklin released VisiCalc, the original spreadsheet and “killer app” that launched the PC revolution. SocialCalc enables large and distributed teams to collaborate across spreadsheets, as an alternative to playing e-mail volleyball with Excel(TM) attachments. Many of our customers have already been having great success using SocialCalc in conjunction with our Socialtext Workspaces (wikis) and Socialtext Signals (microblogging).
Meredith Corporation, for example, publishes more than 20 magazines, including Better Homes & Garden and Ladies’ Home Journal. Typically, marketing teams at several magazines would input data from new subscriber campaigns into their own spreadsheets. Then, they would e-mail them to Meredith’s consumer marketing department, where they would be laboriously compiled into another master spreadsheet. Now, with SocialCalc, that data can be shared online and in a central location, with the necessary security and version control required by a large enterprise like Meredith. SocialCalc also enables flexible roll-up reporting of key indicators for executives.
“I used to get 10 e-mails a day from different people with these reports,” said Dave Ball, Meredith’s vice president of consumer marketing. “Now, with SocialCalc, I can go in at one point in the day and see what’s going on in all our active campaigns right now. It helps us distribute information and knowledge faster, so we can react more quickly.”
Seeing Meredith’s implementation has been particularly gratifying for our SocialCalc Product Lead Dan Bricklin, who has watched the spreadsheet evolve so much over the years. On October 19th, 1979, Bricklin’s publisher received the first shipment of the completed VisiCalc package and sent a shrink-wrapped copy to his home in Massachusetts. VisiCalc has been credited with helping launch the revolution of personal computers because it gave the machines a practical use for consumers and businesses. But while the sophistication and speed of spreadsheet programs advanced with the computing industry in the following years, most have failed to capitalize on the power of social technologies and the real-time advantages of the Web to speed the flow of work.
“SocialCalc is the next logical step for the spreadsheet,” Bricklin said. “As we move into the social world, as typified by a wiki where there is one current copy that everyone can work from, the spreadsheet needs to move there, too.”
In fact, for years, companies have struggled to update and maintain spreadsheets that reflect the real-time work being done by their employees. Typically, teams e-mail around Excel attachments or upload files to a shared drive, leaving managers unsure about the current state of the business. Although online spreadsheets have replicated aspects of Excel in a web browser, they lack the social capabilities of SocialCalc. This includes the ability for spreadsheets to integrate with enterprise wikis, microblogging tools and social networking profiles like those found in the Socialtext platform.
SocialCalc is immediately available for trial and for current customers in the October Appliance release. It costs $3 per user per month. New customers who purchase the full Socialtext platform in 2009 get SocialCalc without charge for 2010. Current customers that participated in the beta program get SocialCalc without charge for 2009.