Feature Friday: Embedding Spreadsheets In Wordpress

So yesterday morning was a bit nuts. I decided to flush out some thoughts on valuations that I had talked about on stage at LeWeb. I started writing a post that would become this. I started building a spreadsheet that would become this.

I had an 8:30am breakfast and as it got closer and closer to 8am, I realized I was screwed. I had cut and pasted certain rows from the google sheet into my post and they were not fitting properly on the screen. As I played around with the underlying code, it just got worse. I was digging myself into a hole.

So at 8:10am, I made a decision. I wrote a note to everyone that the post was messed up, jumped into the shower, and got to my breakfast about 5mins late.

When I got to the office after my breakfast, I learned that a meeting I had in my calendar was not happening. Oh happy day. I love when that happens.

So I googled for a wordpress plugin that allows the embedding of google sheets and found this one.

It is called Inline Google Spreadsheet Viewer and it gives you a wordpress shortcode that looks like this:

gdoc key

If you want to embed a google sheet in a blog post, you install the plugin, you insert that shortcode, and you put the URL of the public/open google sheet into the ” ” and that’s it.

What I could not figure out how to do was to embed different tabs from the same sheet, so I ended up creating four different sheets and embedding each one separately.

But it all worked out fine. Within ten minutes I had cleaned up my post and put that to bed. Had I known about this plugin when I started the post around 7:30am, I could have easily polished the whole thing off and even had time to shave in the shower. Fortunately, it takes days for my beard to show up 🙂


Comments (Archived):

  1. Jorge M. Torres

    You must get more done before 9am than most VCs get done all day.

    1. fredwilson

      i was up at 4am today because i’m still jet lagged (i have a really tough time going west). so yes, today i’ve already done a ton of work. now i’m going to get on the treadmill, run a couple miles, and then go to a breakfast

      1. bsoist

        Whenever you post after 8am I wonder why you waited until the middle of the day. 🙂

      2. Brandon G. Donnelly

        and then crash at 7pm? 🙂

      3. Matt A. Myers

        No yoga and meditation? 🙂

  2. awaldstein

    WordPress impresses me every time I use it.Damn–its free, it works great and they more than any other company understand plug ins.Compared to a company like Shopify that has huge potential and is a freakin mess, when it comes to plug ins and supporting developers. I believe Shopify will loose for not understanding how WordPress won.

    1. bsoist

      The power of open source AND a few influential users spreading the word.I remember when I first heard of b2. I thought “why would anyone want to deal with saving blog posts into an SQL database?” Didn’t make any sense to me at that time ( and still doesn’t for simple blogs if you ask me ( unless you’re hung up on presentation of old posts, I guess ) ), but after the fork and the plugin architecture, and when people started using it to build more than blogs, it really took off.Today I’m a big fan!Though anything as popular as WP has a downside – beware the “free” plugin that is too cool to resist.

      1. awaldstein

        I’m lamenting.I built a project mistakenly on Shopify. It’s growing briskly and I have no choice but to rebuild on another system.Pain. My mistake. Good problem. Pain nonetheless.

        1. ShanaC

          why a pain?

    2. LE

      If wordpress was a wine it would be the stuff that I buy not the stuff that you buy ($10 bottle). It’s slow and clunky. I’m not saying (along the lines of my other comment) that it doesn’t get the job done. It does. But the speed as well as security concerns are definitely an issue.Take a look at http://wpengine.com/The reason they have a business model is because WordPress, last I checked, is a complete “CF”. (ClusterF%^&*).Look at what they charge:http://wpengine.com/plans/They can charge that because running wordpress on a typical shared host has it’s issues.

      1. Matt Zagaja

        Interesting analogy. I used to run WordPress on a shared DreamHost account until I learned more about PageSpeed optimization. After running it through a bunch of benchmarks and testing I realized that being on a shared server it was just starved for power. Ended up moving to Jekyll on an AWS S3 bucket.

    3. Jaime Novoa

      And it’s also growing rapidly in the ecommerce sector. Check WooCommerce.

      1. awaldstein

        Thanks.I need to rebuild the site in the new year most likely so starting to think about it.

    4. ShanaC

      There are tons of reason why I would say shopify over woocommerce or magento – namely credit card compliance is a b*tch. Having an ultra-sterile database that a developer can’t disturb (fairly easy to do) means not worrying about data leakage as you are building your individual store (you do have to worry if shopify is doing its job)

      1. awaldstein

        Have you built a commerce system and aggregated a market around it on Shopify?Yes, it handles cc compliance–not much else wiithout pain.If you want to sell tshirts or cookies, straight on skus through non discontent shipping services with no wholesale component, no reporting, no ties in to anything actually–it is fine.For absolutely every other use case it is a more expensive and painful option.I speak from hands on experience,

  3. Russell

    WordPress offers a great model – a lot of open source free stuff plus free and paid plug-ins and themes on top. Everyone in the community benefits from both sides. I wouldn’t want to be the people trying to disrupt them! … although if it comes it will have to be because of PHP :/@shana – I need to follow up with you about this topic, sorry I’ve been swamped this week!!

    1. Matt Zagaja

      I think people overvalue their choice of programming language. PHP might not be the sexy thing anymore but Facebook is written in PHP and I’m sure the WordPress programmers know the nuances of PHP enough to make it perform. I’ll also see people complain Rails is slow but then you see Hulu, Basecamp, GitHub, etc. are all on Rails and work fine.

      1. LE

        The only people that care about “sexy” in programming languages are the people that program and care about those things.The product written in the language just needs to work that’s what end users care about. When I sold my first business I had a bunch of things written in sh (the shell) and awk (prior to bash being out there in other words < 1989). The people who bought the business (their tech person) laughed. But they continued to use the software for 4 or 5 years at least. (Estimating and job scheduling). It worked and got the job done. All on a Unix machine with a 70mb hard disk and 4mb of memory. And Wyse terminals. Who cares about what the code looked like and whether I did things the asperger spectrum way? I did things to get the job done. (No database was available so this was all with text files to store the data.)This is similar to photography. Nobody cares about the camera that you use. They care about the picture. Actually, taking it one step further, what they actually care about is how they look in the picture specifically. Anyone who takes pictures can tell you stories about a great shot they took of someone whose reaction was “I don’t look good in that picture”.

    2. ShanaC

      ha. and don’t worry about it too much, I’m around

  4. jason wright

    breakfast doesn’t mean at speed. theme of the week.

  5. John Revay

    Looks much better today.I had clicked through to the docs spread sheet mid day yesterday….I kept wondering why you put the year header on each section of the sheet…now I think it makes sense.

  6. Twain Twain

    Yesterday I added your Google spreadsheet of a fictional valuation to my treasure trove of spreadsheets. At UBS, I was lucky enough to be taught Corporate Finance by the then Dean of INSEAD (Gabriel Hawawini) who’s one of the cleverest men I’ve ever met.If you’re not already lecturing at Columbia / NYU Stern or other, I bet the MBA students would love your lectures!The way financial concepts are explained are often convoluted but you almost always explain things in comprehensive ways.Maybe someone will figure out a way to do the plugin so that it’s also WRITE and not read-only in the embed……Then maybe we could change the cells in situ in the blog post and generate charts and trendlines.

    1. ShanaC

      what other great spreadsheets are in this collection

      1. Twain Twain

        NYU Stern’s Professor of Finance, Aswath Damodaran, has a great repo:* http://people.stern.nyu.edu…I also have spreadsheets from Mgmt Sch; my Professor of Finance was a Credit Suisse financier. Then there’s the sets I have from banking: the then Dean of Insead’s plus from Equity Analytics, Risk Mgmt etc. courses I did to pass the fin sector securities exams.Also, sets from a partner at Orrick law firm and from other entrepreneurs, including the founder of Citymapper (the app that got a shout-out at Apple’s Oct event).Each founder engineers their financials differently — pretty much in the same way that each designer engineers user flow differently and developers engineer the data flow and db architecture differently.

        1. ShanaC

          would you care to share as a bulk set – i’m curious what these all look like

          1. Twain Twain

            Apart from the NYU Stern ones, they’re in paper rather than electronic form. Go with the NYU Stern ones in the link.

  7. William Mougayar

    Those wordpress shortcodes are great. But better than shortcodes is when you don’t even need a plugin or shortcode, like for embedding a YouTube video; you just paste the URL.It’s because that feature is part of the WordPress core. You’d think that Google spreadsheets would also be supported that way.

    1. bsoist

      I haven’t tried it but Google has an embed code you can grab that you can paste in to your post.If that works, I’m surprised that the by URL feature you described is not available.Providers available that way are listed here, but you could also add Google with wp_oembed_add_provider

      1. William Mougayar

        so does it need a plugin?my point is – why not just paste the Docs URL just like you paste the YouTube URL.

        1. bsoist

          Understood. I am surprised Google is not included as a provider ( as is YouTube and several other sites ) in WP core.My approach would probably be to add support for it in functions.php – so that I could just paste in a URL – or write a simple plugin that does that ( if one doesn’t exist ) so I could share it.I can only speculate as to why the author of this plugin chose to use shortcodes.

          1. William Mougayar

            ah…so what you are saying is that you can embed the functionality of a plugin straight into the functions.php? Cool.

  8. Andrew Kennedy

    “I had an 8:30am breakfast and as it got closer and closer to 8am, I realized I was screwed.” — I know the feeling well. If only someone could figure out a way to freeze time, even for just 30 mins.

    1. Jon Michael Miles

      There’s an app for that.

    2. bsoist

      So many times, just another five minutes would save my whole day. 🙂

  9. JamesHRH

    Holy Niche Audience Post Batman!

    1. jason wright

      It’s Luther, Martin Luther

  10. pointsnfigures

    wordpress is great and there are a gazillion plug ins for polls etc. I have used some other platforms and they were never easy to use. Tumblr is easy, and the Medium platform is easy to use-but they aren’t as robust as WordPress.

  11. pointsnfigures

    comment feature friday: how do you shave? I made the switch from cartridge razors to a single safety blade. Bought an old razor on eBay that was made in 1962 and I really prefer shaving that way. Cheaper with better results.

      1. bsoist

        Can’t do better than Harry’s

      2. josh20

        The blades I got have rusted already…I contacted customer service but no reaction. Love the branding but I feel like they have to improve on their quality.

        1. LE

          I’m sure they would like to know about that you should write to management. Sounds like a manufacturing defect. When you wrote to customer service what did they say? Are you sure they got the email?

      3. Matt Zagaja

        I switched to Harry’s. Overall the blades are sharper and more precise than Gillette but they also seem to wear/dull faster. I can shave with a fusion blade for like 15 days without noticing a huge degradation in shave ability but the difference between a day 14 Harry’s blade and a day 1 Harry’s blade is pretty large. Overall still worth it for the price though.

        1. Brandon G. Donnelly

          I use Harry’s as well and I find the same thing.

    1. Andrew Kennedy

      question: is single safety blade same as disposable single blade razors? Schick makes a nice single blade disposable. It’s take a few times to get the hang of it (you need to switch up the angle) but then great.

    2. fredwilson

      In the shower with a Gillette razor and Italian shaving soap

      1. William Mougayar

        What is Italian soap?

    3. LE

      This guy (see attached ad when it shows up [1] under disqus) is trying to sell high priced shaving items. I’ve already seen the ad at least 3 times in the “Mart” section of the print WSJ. http://www.thousanddollarsh…[1] Edit: Attached photo showed up right away. Appears that disqus finally rejiged the apparatus.

    4. Twain Twain

      Ye Olde shaving kits pre-1962 can be very swish:* http://www.tayloroldbondst….Meanwhile, for some women who shave their legs, the same blade in the women’s section of the pharmacy is often 1.5 — 2.0x the price of in the men’s section.Luckily, I’m Chinese and we’re fairly hairless which saves on a lot of $$$.

      1. Mona Newton

        oh how lucky you hairless …i am always to late on schedules because of my hair-mn

  12. Jon Michael Miles

    I love that you geek out on this stuff. It’s a cool way to keep one engaged in the actual craft of making something.

    1. fredwilson


    2. fredwilson


  13. Jon Michael Miles

    Had the spreadsheet open, the 20x multiple has been a point of disco – but what really catches my eye – in a startling way – is the EBITDA 110 x multiple.

  14. Guest

    As an aside, Google Inbox displayed a link directly to the spreadsheet. Another sign that they keep innovating in the mobile UI.Of course my first reaction was to panic, thinking it must a breach and “how do I get hold of Fred Wilson to warn him he’s been sending sheets out to his subscribers? !”A little heart-stopping moment there. 🙂

  15. LE

    even had time to shave in the showerDo you mean as opposed to not shaving? Shaving in the shower is the only way to go. I mean I’m sure Charlie doesn’t do that, being as green as he is, but I for sure do.

  16. Brandon G. Donnelly

    That happens all the time to me with blogging. I have to be somewhere and my writing is dragging or I’m trying to figure something out. And then I realize I’m screwed.

  17. matthughes

    I had a similar, finicky WordPress/SoundCloud embed moment recently – SoundCloud has some odd constraints on their embeds.Related … lack of auto-save in WordPress is a blindspot with painful consequences at times.

  18. Emily Merkle

    Fred’s first emoji here?

    1. Mona Newton

      omg you are so raving about fred here-mn

      1. Emily Merkle

        omg like totally freak me out.

      2. ShanaC


  19. ShanaC

    slightly off topic but: scan the blog every now and then with something like wordpress scanner and make sure you have strong security protocols put into place, because plugins are a great attack vector…

  20. maymaym

    Hi. 🙂 I’m the author of Inline Google Spreadsheet Viewer for WordPress. I just wanted to let you know that the shortcode’s `gid` attribute lets you embed a tab other than the left-most one in your Google Sheet. So, if you have a Google Sheet with three tabs, clicking on the second or third tab will produce a URL in your web browser’s address bar that ends in something like “#gid=12345” and so if you want to embed that tab in your post or page, you use a shortcode like [gdoc key="YOUR_URL_HERE" gid="12345"]. Now you know. Cheers.

  21. Arnon

    Thanks for this helpful post. Now, not to be a vocab-fascist, but the expression for expanding a thought is “flesh out” not “flush out” One adds meat to the bones, the other eliminates waste.

  22. PhilipSugar

    Think of the ROI….the article says they spend $5mm!!! What chump change. They should cut off the Fed Funds ability for JP and see what happens.That would be my threat if I was President. Challenge me….no issue. No ability to go to the Fed.

  23. Tom Labus

    Very sad but true.