Protocol | Workplace

Coda’s next move: Building an app store for getting stuff done

By letting users build their own tools on Coda, and paying some of them, Coda's on its way to building a doc marketplace.

Screenshot of Coda’s Packs.

Coda launched the ability for users to build their own integrations on Wednesday.

Image: Coda

Coda, like many productivity software companies, wants to be the platform that workers use for everything. But now Coda has set its sights on more than that. It wants to become a marketplace. To do that, it needs help from the people who use it. Specifically the ones who like to build stuff.

On Wednesday, Coda announced that its users can now build their own integrations and features into Coda. It calls these extensions "Packs," and they can be anything from a Google Calendar integration to a button that generates Yelp reviews. It used to be that only people at Coda could build these extensions. But co-founder and CEO Shishir Mehrotra said people wanted more integrations than Coda could provide on its own.

Now, anyone can build Packs, Mehrotra told Protocol, as long as they have a "basic understanding of coding principles." The move fits into the goal the CEO has had since Coda's inception: to build a place where people can share their creations and eventually, where some can profit off of them. To incentivize makers, Coda is allocating $1 million to a "Maker Fund," which Coda will use to help promote or pay the creators of popular Packs.

"I'm watching this generation of people start to figure out, 'Hey, I can do this. I can build. I have an insight,'" Mehrotra said.

The first major step Coda took in this direction was the launch of a document gallery last April, allowing users to share fancy templates, ideas and advice. Plenty of other software companies also have template galleries, including Notion and Asana. Templates make tools easier to use, giving newcomers some guidance on how best to build their documents.

On Coda's gallery, users will be able to browse different Packs in addition to docs. Mehrotra said Coda's not ready to allow monetization of docs just yet, but is working on it.

Mehrotra was a longtime executive at YouTube, and in describing his goals for Coda, he drew comparisons between the two. Specifically, providing a space for anyone in the world with a computer to upload things they've made. He acknowledged, though, that it's not the perfect analogy. Coda's gallery fits in somewhere between the App Store and Medium, he said.

"You can come and you can read about amazing things from interesting people, or you can go shopping and say I need these five different tools to be able to run my company or personal life," Mehrotra said.

Coda started as an "all-in-one document" company, a blank canvas where people could create and organize their lives. But with this expansion of Packs, they're hoping to become more than that. They want people to visit Coda and browse its gallery for new docs or tools.

Mehrotra expects that people will produce a range of Packs, with some creators building internal tools for their companies and others building them for general consumption. To get a taste of what people want to make, Coda opened up the ability to build Packs to a few creators before the launch. One person made a way to calculate payroll directly from inside Coda. Another made an easier way to search through GIFs on GIPHY.

The CEO says he's not expecting Pack and doc builders to accrue large followings on Coda from the get-go. Instead, Mehrotra thinks people will bring their fans from elsewhere. "I don't think people's followings should be so closely tied to where the assets live," he said.

But Coda's not focused on recruiting star power; it's opening the doors to anyone with an idea. In the coming weeks and months, it'll go through applications for funding from the Maker Fund, hoping to help the makers who need it.

Photo Illustration: Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

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