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Playbook, which goals to be the ‘Dropbox for designers,’ raises $4M in spherical led by Founders Fund

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When Jessica Ko was head of design at Google after which Opendoor, she realized that her groups spent about 90% of their time digging round Dropbox in search of belongings.

In lots of instances, they’d discover older variations. Or they couldn’t discover what they have been in search of. And even worse, they’d by chance choose the mistaken asset.

“It was such a chaotic course of,” Ko recollects. “Anybody may go in and alter issues and alter folder constructions round. It was a complete mess, and simply continued like that as a result of there was no various.”

As Opendoor grew in measurement, the issue turned a fair greater one, she mentioned. 

“Designers have been quitting as a result of it was giving them a lot anxiousness,” Ko recollects. “Dropbox hadn’t solved it but. Google Drive was not a great various both. Designers cope with recordsdata probably the most, and we’re exchanging recordsdata continuously.

Apart from the frustration and stress the issue of file storage and sharing prompted, not with the ability to find the right belongings additionally led to errors, which in flip led to a lot of cash misplaced, in keeping with Ko.

“We spent some huge cash on picture shoots as a result of we couldn’t discover new issues, or folks must recreate designs,” she mentioned. 

On high of that, she mentioned, designers weren’t the one ones who wanted to entry the belongings. Finance groups have been continuously needing them for issues like creating pitch decks.

So in 2018, Ko left Opendoor to set about fixing the issue she was uninterested in coping with by creating file storage for contemporary design workflows and processes. Or put extra merely, she wished to construct a brand new sort of cloud storage that will function an alternative choice to Dropbox and Google Drive “constructed by, and for, creatives.”

In early 2020, Ko (CEO) teamed up with Alex Zirbel (CTO) to launch San Francisco-based Playbook, which she describes because the “Dropbox for designers,” to deal with the problem. And at present, the startup has emerged from stealth and introduced it has raised $4 million in a seed funding spherical led by Founders Fund at a $20 million post-money valuation.

Different buyers within the spherical embrace Summary, Inovia, Maple, Foundation Set, Backend, Wilson Sonsini and quite a lot of angels, together with Opendoor co-founder and CEO Eric Wu, Gusto co-founder Eddie Kim and SV Angel’s Beth Turner.

In a nutshell, Playbook claims it will probably routinely imports, tags, categorizes a company’s total media library, in minutes.

When beginning out, the very first thing Playbook got down to do was try and reinvent the best way folders exist for belongings, with subfolders beneath. After which, the corporate set about making an attempt to alter the best way folks share recordsdata. 

“Since a lot is completed over e mail and Slack lately, model management turns into much more tough,” Ko instructed ahosti. So Playbook, she mentioned, has constructed a storage system that may be accessed by all events versus simply sending recordsdata by way of totally different channels.

“For years, these belongings have been dropped into what seems like a file cupboard,” Ko mentioned. “However lately, sharing belongings is rather more collaborative and there’s totally different sorts of events concerned resembling freelancers and contractors. So who’s managing these recordsdata, and controlling the variations has change into very complicated.”

Playbook presents 4TB of free storage, which Ko says is 266 instances the free model of Google Storage and a couple of,000 instances that of Dropbox. The hope is that this encourages customers to make use of its platform as an all-around inventive hub with out worrying about working out of space for storing. It additionally automatically scans, organizes and tags recordsdata and has labored to make it simpler to browse recordsdata and folders visually.

Picture Credit: Playbook

In March, Playbook opened a beta model of its product to the design neighborhood and obtained about 1,000 customers in two months. Individuals continued to enroll and the corporate at one level needed to shut the beta in order that it may handle all the brand new customers.

Right this moment, it has about 10,000 customers signed up in beta. Early customers embrace particular person freelancers to design groups at corporations like Quick, Folx and Literati.

The seven-person firm desires to concentrate on getting the product “proper” earlier than trying to monetize and launch to enterprises (which can probably occur subsequent 12 months), Ko mentioned.

For now, Playbook is concentrated on the wants of freelancers. The corporate believes that the exponential development of freelancers post-pandemic means “cloud storage must be smarter.”

“We wish to first clear up that use case, and unlock the issue from the underside up,” Ko instructed ahosti. 

Additionally, one other technique behind that preliminary focus is that freelancers also can introduce Playbook to the businesses and enterprises they work for, so the advertising and marketing then turns into constructed into the product.

“They will switch belongings and recordsdata by way of Playbook to their purchasers, who are inclined to undertake,” she mentioned.

Right this moment, Playbook helps handle over 2 million belongings and says it has “lots of of waitlist sign-ups” each month.

Trying forward, Zirbel mentioned the startup desires to department out into image scanning, similarity, content material detection, previewing and long-term cloud storage and tons of integrations.

“There are many fascinating expertise challenges once you concentrate on the inventive facet of cloud storage,” he mentioned.

Founders Fund’s John Luttig mentioned when the agency first met Ko and Zirbel final 12 months, it was “clear that they’d a depth of understanding and thoughtfulness round file administration” that his agency hadn’t seen earlier than. Plus, in his view, there was little or no innovation in cloud storage since Dropbox launched in 2007. 

“The product leverages trendy design, collaboration ideas, and synthetic intelligence to make file administration a lot sooner and simpler,” he wrote by way of e mail. “Given their design-centric backgrounds, they’re extraordinarily well-positioned to rethink the person expertise for file methods from the bottom up.”

Playbook, he mentioned, is ready to leverage latest developments in pc imaginative and prescient and design “to construct a much better product to handle and share recordsdata.”

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