I love Hackpad. And it's strange because most of what Hackpad does, Google Docs does. And I really like Google Docs. I use Google Docs dozens of times a day.

But there is something about Hackpad that I like better than Google Docs for massively open online realtime document creation. Let's not turn that into an acronym please.

Yesterday, we created this document on Hackpad. And I embedded it on AVC. You could sit there and watch people from all around the world entering stuff into it, taking stuff out, commenting, adding things, etc. You could see when the folks in asia woke up and started entering in asian companies.

Wikipedia showed the power of the crowd to come together and co-create (peer produce) information. I truly believe the result is better, even if it can be a bit messy at the edges.

The document we created yesterday is also messy. I am trying to decide if I should clean it up. There is a bunch of stuff in that document that I would like to remove, that I don't think belongs there. I might do that in a day or two and then lock it down for now. Or I may not. Haven't decided yet. As my friend Peter said to me over email this morning, it is a great "crib sheet". If you have thoughts or suggestions on that decision, please leave them in the comments for me.

But regardless of how that decision goes down, I would like to thank the Hackpad team for creating an amazing product. We put it through the paces yesterday and it came through like a champ.


Comments (Archived):

  1. jason wright

    you ought to clean it up, but leave the original version on view too.the comparison has value. it adds to how contributors think and how you think. it might demotivate people if their contributions are removed, which would not be good for community spirit.all and warts please.

    1. falicon

      Fork it! +1.

      1. jason wright

        …with attidude! ๐Ÿ™‚

    2. fredwilson

      good suggestion

      1. jason wright

        i think its the natural thing to do, as a validation of your network thesis, but you do what you think is best. it’s your blog.

  2. JimHirshfield

    It isn’t pure crowd-sourcing if you run “editorial rough shod” over it, is it? Theoretically, the crowd should clean it up in that one person edits or removes another’s entry because it’s inaccurate.With Hackpad on yesterday’s post, wasn’t it more “collective” than “collaborative”? IOW, people adding to the list (which was your objective), but not editing each others’ entries?

    1. fredwilson

      here are some things i don’t like that folks put into the document1) billion dollar exits founded before 20032) prediction. that’s nonsense in my book. i could enter our whole portfolio with a prediction caveat

      1. JimHirshfield

        I’m with ya that there’s BS in the list.As an aside, I like your “whole portfolio” wishful thinking prediction. Let’s make it so. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      2. David Semeria

        I added the exits before 2003 section to prevent people from continually having to look-up founding dates for names which seem more recent than they are (for example, who’d have thought OpenTable was founded as far back a 1998? )Once the document is locked down, though, I agree it should be removed.

        1. Elia Freedman

          Agreed re: Open Table. Some companies seem to get big really fast. Others seem to get big fast but really take a lot longer than memory serves.

        2. AnujMathur

          agree on removing pre-2003 list. started thinking of some pre-03s, but then had flashbacks of building precedent transaction lists as a banking analyst and stopped.

      3. John Best

        I like the “eleventy trillion dollar US” prediction in there ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Julien

    Key feature of Hackpad over Google Docs: the ability to “follow” a doc and be notified when it changes! So much more useful for collaboration ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. JimHirshfield

      Google Docs has notifications, including anytime the doc is changed:

      1. Julien

        But IIRC they’re only visible if you have the page open…

        1. JimHirshfield

          Nope. Via email if you want.

          1. Julien

            My mistake then… but you’ll have to agree that the simple “Follow” button is easier to find/know about than digging in the settings! To me it’s as important as the “Comments” or the “Share” buttons.

          2. JimHirshfield


          3. Dale Allyn

            That’s because Google still don’t get UI/UX. Improving in places, but still very rough or at least inelegant.

  4. Tereza

    I really liked the messiness of it. Very real. (I came late to the conversation and felt like I still got to catch most of it).One small rub. Does Hackpad up on top take energy away from the Disqussion down below?

    1. fredwilson

      probably but we get plenty of discussion here as it is ๐Ÿ™‚

    2. JimHirshfield

      Hey T! ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Tereza

        Yo YO JimBO!

    3. jason wright

      yes, a messy network brain storm.

  5. William Mougayar

    Here’s the method you could use for cleaning it up.- establish more stringent criteria for inclusion, e.g. nothing prior to 2003, and no prediction, keep the ‘not yet’ but over $500M, etc…- decide on the final output format you want to have, what info/data you need verified or displayed, and what content organization you want to end-up with- create a 2nd private Hackpad between you and 3-4 collaborators that split the work (I volunteer, and I also have access to the the Mattermark data to verify stuff)that’s it. you’ll have it cleaned-up and ready for another post in 3 days.

    1. fredwilson

      someone nuked most of Aileen’s list at some point todaypisses me off to be honest

      1. Tereza

        that’s malicious. what does someone gain by doing that?

      2. William Mougayar

        Hmmm. That’s weird.How did you bring them back- is there a version control / audit trail?

  6. JamesHRH

    Like so many things, this is a personality based preference.I am not a Google Docs (slow, hard to use) or Hackpad fan (slow, messy). I did not spend Sunday watching the doc get created, so that value is not there for me. I also thought that one person, at least, with a significant public profile, did themselves a disservice.That can be the Monday Morning AVC riddle.

  7. laude05

    At some point in any writing, you “lock down” the work. You must decide that it’s good enough to publish or it will never be done. Same with a collaborative work – sign it, seal it and ship it!

  8. panterosa,

    A blackboard is messy after a class, but if the subject is organized in the students mind then that’s the takeaway. Process not product, the dynamic journey in group making. (was cool to watch it in action)Cleaning it up skews it towards one version of clean, yours, since all see data and the ways to cut the pie differently in our own minds. Perhaps the value is the comments on how you feel it should be cleaned up, which reveals your primary goal in making it.

    1. leigh

      diverge then converge. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Karl

    Fred, what do you mean by the following sentence: “But there is something about Hackpad that I like better than Google Docs for massively open online realtime document creation.”?In what waysโ€”and in which situationsโ€”is Hackpad better than Google Docs?

  10. Mordy Kaplinsky

    Hackpad reminds me of Google Wave and some of the promises it held. Its great that the promises of interactive documents live on and didn’t die with Wave.

    1. SubstrateUndertow

      WAVE didn’t die it was murdered by Google!

      1. Mordy Kaplinsky

        Wave was a cautionary tale on the importance of product and marketing in relation to new technology, although if you look closely it lives in products like Gmail and Docs and ofcourse externally in Hackpad.

      2. Vasudev Ram

        I had tried Wave early. It was slow. Maybe that is why Google stopped it – because it was too slow. The idea of Wave was good though.

    2. jason wright

      “Say Hello, Wave Goodbye” (Soft Cell, 1982).

  11. Steve Lerner

    Seems like it would be great to freeze it (and optionally clean it up before freezing) and open a copy for ongoing changes.

  12. aguynamedloren

    You should check out penflip.com. It’s also a platform for open collaborative writing, but a different approach – it follows the GitHub model, so there’s a master version of the document, and all updates ‘feed’ into the master version with lightweight merge requests. It’s a little slower than Hackpad because it’s asynchronous, but the great thing is that you can keep out the trash, and let the good stuff in.

  13. Ram

    Hackpad looks a lot like Etherpad, built by AppJet later acquired by Google and I believe they open sourced the project. The tech behind the real time collaborative editing was built by them and might be same thing behind Google Docs’ collaborative editing feature.

  14. Vladimir Kobzev

    Interesting thing that we also use google docs for many reasons and the same time http://rizzoma.com a collaboration editor with inline-comment feature. Hackpad is cool, but I use it a quite rare.

  15. LE

    Note to hackpad.You should release a version of this that can be self hosted on a server.

  16. Para Friv

    Thank you so much! Seems like it would be great to freeze it (and optionally clean it up before freezing) and open a copy for ongoing changes.

  17. Sean Hull

    This is pretty sweet. First I’ve heard of it, and will definitely come in handy with clients. Thx for the tip!

  18. gonzaloc

    Thanks Fred for helping me get to know HackPad! Inspired on your post I triggered a conversation about startups in Latin America with valuations above $100M, and created a HackPad for that (being populated as we speak by many, many contributors) http://goo.gl/oa6TYUThanks!@gonzalo_costa

  19. Taylah Oliphant

    your evaluation has benefit. the item contributes to just how contributors consider and also how we consider. it may demotivate men and women when their efforts are generally taken away, which would not really end up being great for local community character.espiao celular

  20. Mateusz Drozdzynski

    I have to say, Iโ€™m very impressed with what Hackpad are doing. We went through a number of tools (including Google Docs), but Hackpad is now probably the single most important app in our toolbelt. We use it to brainstorm, take notes during meetings, organise our product pipeline and much more. It brings the power of paper (freeform thinking, lack of structure and infinite possibilities) to the web. Now if it only had a native iPad appโ€ฆ

  21. arikan

    When will Hackpad provide a shared spreadsheet?

  22. JimHirshfield

    Yeah, it can be all of those things. I was just observing folks adding a laundry list of companies yesterday, and not much corrective course taking. So, mine was an observation of how Hackpad was used during the time frame I viewed it; but certainly not a commentary on Hackpad in general.

  23. JimHirshfield

    Yeah, there was some of that. Analogy is if Jimmy Wales decided that he was going to be the final editor of all Wikipedia entries, with over-ride power over everyone else (which JW may have been accused of in the past)

  24. JimHirshfield

    This ain’t a debate of minutiae, either. ๐Ÿ˜›

  25. Profligate_Penguin

    Forget about the iPhone, that hackpad link locked up both Chrome and FF on my Macbook Pro.

  26. Richard

    Yep, Yesterday was a safari nightmare

  27. ShanaC

    why fred vs anyone else, vs a computer

  28. Profligate_Penguin

    A couple of years, but it has been upgraded, and I push it very hard every day for web development (multiple virtual machines, huge .psd files, big slow IDEs, multiple monitors etc) with no performance issues, so I wouldn’t expect it to hang displaying a collaborative text document.

  29. LE

    How can you call Groupon a tech company but not Tesla?I think there are many companies that are considered tech simply because (like the supreme court not being able to define pornography) they fit an image of what we think should be tech. We think we know it when we see it. But it’s hard to define. Although it shouldn’t be that hard to define “tech” as long as you are willing to accept that it might not be perfect.What if groupon were simply deals offered by the old school company that did the yellow pages? And had “old” people running it. Using web1.0 technology? Would anyone even care? What if tesla was started by a bunch of auto execs who had worked at GM or Ford?Maybe there should be a hackpad on what the definition of a tech company is.

  30. jason wright

    i don’t drive