Crocodoc Unveils New Document Embedding Service for Enterprise

Document sharing service Crocodoc is making the leap from consumer-focused tool to enterprise-targeting platform today, announcing its new HTML5-based document embedding service for Microsoft Office and PDF documents. The service, which allows users of enterprise applications to open and view files without downloading them, is launching with some big-name partners including Dropbox, LinkedIn, Yammer and SAP. The move will help Crocodoc ride the trend of cloud-based document storage and sharing, making it a well-timed pivot as Google, Dropbox and Microsoft all amp up their cloud locker offerings.

In fact, the first wave of Crocodoc-powered embedded web documents actually went out last week, when Dropbox unveiled its easy public linking service for Dropbox-stored files. Crocodoc CEO and co-founder Ryan Damico explained that where his company really saw an opportunity to make a mark was in helping companies like Dropbox and other cloud-based service providers complete the picture, by bringing documents to the cloud along with everything else that’s being handled now via web-based tools.

“What we found with many of the customers we work with is that Crocodoc provides a really key advantage in their spaces. Documents are really central to many web apps out there,” he pointed out. “Could be file syncing, could be enterprise collaboration, could be resumé viewing, you name it. But where all these apps are going online using HTML5 to create a great desktop-like experience without forcing people to use desktop software, documents haven’t caught up with that, so that’s what we’re doing with Crocodoc.”

Because Crocodoc uses HTML5 to convert and render Office and PDF documents, something Damico said only takes seconds, files can be viewed not only in desktop browsers, but also on mobile devices including smartphones and tablets, regardless of which mobile OS they’re using. Documents are also encrypted, and when they’re viewed by users they’re tied to a temporary session that expires once the user’s through. Plus, Crocodoc also offers the ability to run its conversion software on a client’s own hardware, adding an extra layer of protection for very sensitive work environments.

Damico said that while companies could conceivably create their own systems for achieving this, Crocodoc tries to price its product so that that option, which is costly and time-consuming, isn’t the route most would choose. “We charge per document. Pennies per document to start, and we have volume discounts for customers who are doing lots of documents,” Damico told us.

Crocodoc is also flexible in terms of how enterprise customers implement its product, offering both white label and co-branded options, along with a lot of customization options so that a customer can make sure it fits in with their existing design. Damico cites Dropbox’s usage as a prime example of that type of custom branding.

San Francisco-based Crocodoc, which launched in 2010 with seed funding from Y Combinator, SV Angel and Dave McClure among others, will still be offering its consumer-facing products under the branding “Crocodoc Personal,” but Damico said the team recognized the larger opportunity of targeting enterprise.

“We launched the last version of Crocodoc a little over a year ago, and we just were inundated with requests for our partner program,” he said. “We realized that while we’re still going to offer our personal service for individuals, we realized we could reach a significantly larger audience by partnering directly with these companies to offer our product to their user base.”

Aside from reaching more users, Crocodoc is also making itself an integral component for a number of successful companies, which is a good way to ensure it sticks around long-term. There’s still always the chance that Microsoft or Adobe could try and make their own products as easy to access on multiple devices natively as Crocodoc has done as a third-party offering, but that’s likely still many years out, if it ever happens.

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