Workplace

Forget long screen recordings. These tools automate your company’s how-tos.

Scribe and Tango take screen recordings and automatically turn them into step-by-step lists.

Scribe screenshot

Productivity tools tackle company how-tos.

Image: Scribe

Scribe, a process documentation tool, officially started three years ago. But CEO Jennifer Smith thinks its journey started 15 years ago when she worked as a consultant at McKinsey & Company. She would approach the smartest people at large companies’ operation centers and ask them: “What are you doing differently from everyone else?”

“They would pull out a very thick binder and plop it down and say, ‘This is our official manual,’” Smith said.

If only there were a better way of transferring this knowledge, Smith thought at the time. Later, she worked in venture capital and kept hearing the same thing: How do we efficiently spread the company wisdom that’s trapped inside people’s heads? Without the thick binder or the 45-minute screen recording? Thus began Scribe.

To use Scribe, you record your screen as you go through a standard workplace process. When you finish recording, Scribe automatically generates a step-by-step written guide with screenshots that you can edit and share with whomever you want. It’s a browser extension and a desktop app, meant to be as easy as possible for both the sender and recipient of information.

“The thing we replace the most is people manually creating step-by-step documentation,” Smith said. “The closest analogy is video, which is really great for certain kinds of communication. We pause it with procedural know-how, walking them through a very specific digital process.”

A potential Scribe user is anyone who needs to explain something to someone else, Smith said. A lot of people actually use it for themselves, she said, in order not to forget infrequent but important workflows or processes. Smith isn’t focused on any particular industry or situation, but it’s especially helpful in the context of remote work, which eliminates the scenario where you look over your co-worker’s shoulder at their computer screen. It’s also especially helpful within tech, an industry with high turnover, as tech workers often find that essential documentation has been written by someone who is no longer with the company.

“Right when you’re leaving, doing that knowledge transfer,” Smith said, “then for the new folks coming in, actually having the info that they need at the beginning of their time is so much more empowering.”

The company has raised about $30 million to date. Its growth has been fairly organic, Smith said, often through word-of-mouth. Scribe has shown up on quite a few Twitter “favorite tools roundups” recently. Barbara Ramirez, a business operations consultant, created one of them. She swears by Scribe for helping clients develop standard operating procedures or Asana workflows. Pages, a relatively new Scribe feature that lets users combine multiple scribes into one place, has been particularly useful for her.

“I use it for company handbooks, so it has a welcome video and the guides they need to see depending on the role,” Ramirez said. “It creates seamless onboarding for employees.”

Ramirez recommends that beginner Scribe users start small when it comes to documentation. Your company likely has dozens of processes that would benefit from an automatic step-by-step list, but it can get overwhelming if you try to tackle everything at once. “Start small with: ‘OK, what do I do on a daily basis?’” Ramirez said.

Scribe isn’t the only process documentation tool on the market. Tango is a very similar tool, also with a browser extension and a desktop app. The startup has raised about $20 million to date. Both Scribe and Tango have free plans, though Scribe’s pro plan is $29 per month and Tango’s is $16 per month. You get customizable screenshots and branded guides with Scribe’s pro plan, and desktop recording and blurring of sensitive information with Tango’s. Enterprise pricing is customizable. Tango CEO Ken Babcock met his co-founders at Harvard Business School in 2019, and like Smith, thought there was something seriously wrong with the way organizations retained and spread knowledge. “We heard a lot of folks basically saying, ‘I’m done with screen recording,’” Babcock said. “‘I have to do multiple takes and for people that are watching it, they have to sift through 10 to 20 minutes of video for 30 seconds of value.’”

Babcock said Tango is focused on packaging all of an organization’s Tango how-tos into a more readable, searchable format for viewers. He thinks Tango could become a crucial part of a company’s internal wiki of information. For example, if someone needs to use Confluence as part of their process, Tango might recommend past processes that also involve Confluence. “Like, here’s all the workflows within your team that have been created on Confluence, starting to surface stuff to people who might be looking for information,” Babcock said. “That’s our next phase.”

Scribe’s ultimate goal is for organizations to employ Scribe for every possible process or issue that workers need to know about.

“Any time someone has a question on how to do something, there's a Scribe for that,” Smith told Protocol. “No extra meetings, waiting indefinitely for a response on Slack or trying to figure it out on your own.”

Smith values efficiency more than most people. She’s obsessed with making processes more productive, sometimes annoying her husband in the process, she said. Scribe is an outlet for her penchant for productivity.

“I had a professor in business school who said, ‘Find the thing you always apologize for about yourself and find a way to make it your career,’” Smith said. “For me, Scribe really scratches that itch.”

Entertainment

Google TV will gain fitness tracker support, wireless audio features

A closer integration with fitness trackers is part of the company’s goal to make TVs a key pillar of the Android ecosystem.

Making TVs more capable comes with increasing hardware and software requirements, leading Google to advise its partners to build more-capable devices.

Photo: Google

Google wants TV viewers to get off the couch: The company is working on plans to closely integrate its Android TV platform with fitness trackers, which will allow developers to build interactive workout services for the living room.

Google representatives shared those plans at a closed-door partner event last month, where they painted them as part of the company’s “Better Together” efforts to build an ecosystem of closely integrated Android devices. As part of those efforts, Google is also looking to improve the way Android TV and Google TV devices work with third-party audio hardware. (Google launched Android TV as an Android-based smart TV platform in 2014; in 2020, it introduced Google TV as a more content-centric smart TV experience based on Android TV.)

Keep Reading Show less
Janko Roettgers

Janko Roettgers (@jank0) is a senior reporter at Protocol, reporting on the shifting power dynamics between tech, media, and entertainment, including the impact of new technologies. Previously, Janko was Variety's first-ever technology writer in San Francisco, where he covered big tech and emerging technologies. He has reported for Gigaom, Frankfurter Rundschau, Berliner Zeitung, and ORF, among others. He has written three books on consumer cord-cutting and online music and co-edited an anthology on internet subcultures. He lives with his family in Oakland.

Sponsored Content

How Global ecommerce benefits American workers and the U.S. economy

New research shows Alibaba’s ecommerce platforms positively impact U.S. employment.

The U.S. business community and Chinese consumers are a powerful combination when it comes to American job creation. In addition to more jobs, the economic connection also delivers enhanced wages and a growing GDP contribution on U.S. soil, according to a recent study produced by NDP Analytics.

Alibaba — a leading global ecommerce company — is a particularly powerful engine in helping American businesses of every size sell goods to more than 1 billion consumers on its digital marketplaces in China. In 2020, U.S. companies completed more than $54 billion of sales to consumers in China through Alibaba’s online platforms.

Keep Reading Show less
James Daly
James Daly has a deep knowledge of creating brand voice identity, including understanding various audiences and targeting messaging accordingly. He enjoys commissioning, editing, writing, and business development, particularly in launching new ventures and building passionate audiences. Daly has led teams large and small to multiple awards and quantifiable success through a strategy built on teamwork, passion, fact-checking, intelligence, analytics, and audience growth while meeting budget goals and production deadlines in fast-paced environments. Daly is the Editorial Director of 2030 Media and a contributor at Wired.
Fintech

What the fate of 9 small tokens means for the crypto industry

The SEC says nine tokens in the Coinbase insider trading case are securities, but they are similar to many other tokens that are already trading on exchanges.

While a number of pieces of crypto legislation have been introduced in Congress, the SEC’s moves in court could become precedent until any legislation is passed or broader executive actions are made.

Illustration: Christopher T. Fong/Protocol

When the SEC accused a former Coinbase employee of insider trading last month, it specifically named nine cryptocurrencies as securities, potentially opening the door to regulation for the rest of the industry.

If a judge agrees with the SEC’s argument, many other similar tokens could be deemed securities — and the companies that trade them could be forced to be regulated as securities exchanges. When Ripple was sued by the SEC in late 2020, for example, Coinbase chose to suspend trading the token rather than risk drawing scrutiny from federal regulators. In this case, however, Coinbase says the nine tokens – seven of which trade on Coinbase — aren’t securities.

Keep Reading Show less
Tomio Geron

Tomio Geron ( @tomiogeron) is a San Francisco-based reporter covering fintech. He was previously a reporter and editor at The Wall Street Journal, covering venture capital and startups. Before that, he worked as a staff writer at Forbes, covering social media and venture capital, and also edited the Midas List of top tech investors. He has also worked at newspapers covering crime, courts, health and other topics. He can be reached at tgeron@protocol.com or tgeron@protonmail.com.

Enterprise

Werner Vogels: Enterprises are more daring than you might think

The longtime chief technology officer talked with Protocol about the AWS customers that first flocked to serverless, how AI and ML are making life easier for developers and his “primitives, not frameworks” stance.

"We knew that if cloud would really be effective, development would change radically."

Photo: Amazon

When AWS unveiled Lambda in 2014, Werner Vogels thought the serverless compute service would be the domain of young, more tech-savvy businesses.

But it was enterprises that flocked to serverless first, Amazon’s longtime chief technology officer told Protocol in an interview last week.

Keep Reading Show less
Donna Goodison

Donna Goodison (@dgoodison) is Protocol's senior reporter focusing on enterprise infrastructure technology, from the 'Big 3' cloud computing providers to data centers. She previously covered the public cloud at CRN after 15 years as a business reporter for the Boston Herald. Based in Massachusetts, she also has worked as a Boston Globe freelancer, business reporter at the Boston Business Journal and real estate reporter at Banker & Tradesman after toiling at weekly newspapers.

Climate

Dark money is trying to kill the Inflation Reduction Act from the left

A new campaign is using social media to target voters in progressive districts to ask their representatives to vote against the Inflation Reduction Act. But it appears to be linked to GOP operatives.

United for Clean Power's campaign is a symptom of how quickly and easily social media allows interest groups to reach a targeted audience.

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The social media feeds of progressive voters have been bombarded by a series of ads this past week telling them to urge their Democratic representatives to vote against the Inflation Reduction Act.

The ads aren’t from the Sunrise Movement or other progressive climate stalwarts, though. Instead, they’re being pushed by United for Clean Power, a murky dark money operation that appears to have connections with Republican operatives.

Keep Reading Show less
Lisa Martine Jenkins

Lisa Martine Jenkins is a senior reporter at Protocol covering climate. Lisa previously wrote for Morning Consult, Chemical Watch and the Associated Press. Lisa is currently based in Brooklyn, and is originally from the Bay Area. Find her on Twitter ( @l_m_j_) or reach out via email (ljenkins@protocol.com).

Latest Stories
Bulletins