Airtable-the new table emphasizing substance over speed

  • Shaibana Sherafudheen
  • Published: DECEMBER 16, 2018
Airtable-the new table emphasizing substance over speed

If the frenzied world of tech is about the acceleration of speed, Airtable is about emphasising substance over speed. Howie Liu along with Andrew Ofstad and Emmett Nicholas launched Airtable a spreadsheet-like application in 2013. Their primary aim in creating Airtable was to create a spreadsheet with the power of a database and they spent three years building a prototype.

Through a concept called simmer Lui, delayed rushing the product and introduced forced delays, so as to get people to sleep on the idea. Airtable is now coming to a boil with the cloud-based software taking hold of 80,000 organizations, from Netflix to small nonprofits. Revenue has been anticipated to jump 400% to $20 million which is mostly through word of mouth.

Airtable looks similar to a Google Sheet but it is more like a collaborative spreadsheet that can store images, documents, videos and URLs. All these features can be dragged into cells and opened with just a click. While Google Sheets works well for projects with a team of ten or so, Airtable runs a database underneath to run businesses with thousands of employees simultaneously accessing the system via computers, smartphones and tablets from different parts of the world. It is coded in open-source Node.js which encrypts the data and backs it up with restorable snapshots.

It has a feasible pricing which is on the usual freemium model with basic services gratis. Advanced features with a general storage space would cost $10 or $20 for a month per user besides other enterprise offers

Airtable’s most attractive feature is a buffet of apps and functions, called “blocks.” They can be used to overlay data sets on a Google map, add rules and formulas, send alerts and messages to colleagues, share files via SMS messages or emails, integrate with services like Slack and Dropbox, aggregate surveys and forms, and push content onto a live website.

It is a powerful toolkit that lets anyone create custom applications (sales pipelines, client reports, project management flows, editorial calendars, inventory management) that previously required code writers or expensive consultants.

How Airtable Works
Airtable has a database that allows users to customize the display and link records. Members of an organization can add content text or video and share to others.
The database can be used by thousands of members. In its ‘blocks’, there are small applications that let users do things like map data, notify users of changes, or calculate formulas.
According to Sam Lessin of Slow Ventures, “If you can become the place where all the data that operates most businesses go, the opportunity to build an ecosystem and be the next great platform becomes obvious.”
Liu believes that the product will get more traction once entrepreneurs from outside will build programs for Airtable as they do now for the App Store and Google Play.”The software serves as a blank canvas for whatever a company needs, and that is extremely powerful”, says Joshua Kushner, founder of Thrive Capital.
Airtable has illustrious acolytes which Netflix uses as a tool in its postproduction pipeline. Using an Airtable program Atlantic Records could manage a communication platform between producers, songwriters and performers.
An Airtable app was used during Hurricane Harvey, the nonprofit Austin Pets Alive to track missing animals. Cattle farmers in Idaho use it to chart the health history and vaccination records of cows.
In Lui’s own words, “ Airtable is not just a replacement to an Excel or Google Sheet, but will be the next Microsoft or Apple."

Shaibana Sherafudheen Research Analyst
  • Last updated: Dec 4, 2018 16:05 IST
  • TOPICS: Around The World   Future   Mobile   News   Technology  

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