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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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My Increasing Love Affair With Google Apps

Comments (39)

At Foundry Group, we have now completely switched to Google Apps. This started in August when I decided to Try Gmail For A Week. Five months later I am ready to declare this experiment a complete success.

As every day passes, I find a new magic happy thing that ties my life together better. Today it was Google rolling out a bookmark importer for Delicious.  Amy and I have been heavy delicious users, although I stopped a while ago when it was uncertain what delicious’ future was. Amy kept asking me what the long term solution was now that we are on Google Apps – it turns out that the answer is “import your Delicious tags into Google Bookmark and keep on going.”

About once a week I’m stymied by something, but the +1 each day nets out to +6 for the week. That’s fine for me – I figure out a work around and usually, voila, as if the $GOOG could read my mind, the thing that didn’t work right or didn’t exist suddenly appears.

Yesterday’s magic was finally connecting up my Youtube account (which was connected to my personal Gmail account) to my Google Apps account. Ahem – it did exactly what I wanted it to and now my Youtube life is smooth and happy again.

And even when I publicly criticize Google, they react amazingly well. A month ago I wrote a post titled Time For Google To Get Serious About Enterprise Tech Support. Within an hour of it going up, I got an email and a call from the head of Google Enterprise support. We talked through the issues, he acknowledged certain weaknesses, talked about what they were doing to improve things, and listened carefully to my very specific feedback on a few things. He connected up with our IT guy (Ross) and they spent some time going through our experiences. Again, he listened to the feedback. And we’ve seen real improvements based on what we told them. Oh, and now that we are through the migration, we almost never need support.

If anyone still doubts Google’s intention in the enterprise, you shouldn’t. Count me impressed.

  • http://twitter.com/AntonioTedesco Antonio Tedesco

    Brad, Please ask Google to allow combining or sharing contacts between gmail and email accounts running Google Apps.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      I use Gist to tie this together (www.gist.com).

      Migrationbox – http://www.migrationbox.com – one of the TechStars NY
      companies – is also working on this (they have the email connected -
      soon will have contacts).

  • http://twitter.com/annejohn Anne Johnson

    Brad,
    (sorry you are sick .. )

    Do you keep backups of your data separate from the Google complex, or do you take the reasonable risk that they can backup your data much better than you could ?

    We started using gmail for cunningsystems in 2009, moved to Chrome as the UI recently, contemplating using more Apps.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Re: Backups – we are experimenting with a few different things
      although generally we are comfortable with Google.

      • http://linkedin.com/in/kristindziadul Kristin Dziadul

        Brad,

        I’m curious as to what tools you are experimenting with for backup. Have you tried Backupify yet? (backupify.com). While I am a bit biased as I do work there, I think it’d be a great tool for you to test out. We backup the complete set of Google Apps (Gmail, Docs, Calendar, Sites, Contacts) and just released a one-click restore feature if, for any reason, you lost some data. If you get a chance to check us out, I’d love to hear what you think. A lot of people come to us soon after their migration (which is the state you are in now) and look for a silver lining to their account to prevent against Google deleting their account, an accidental email deletion, server downtime, account, hack, etc.

        Sincerely,

        Kristin Dziadul
        Backupify

  • http://twitter.com/jim_shook Jim Shook

    Google Docs is also awesomely fast now, though limited in functionality. Agree they should continue to focus on enterprise (and search), and I think, forget about platform social.

  • http://www.aaronklein.com/ Aaron Klein

    No offense Brad, but real progress will be when us normals tweet “time for Google to get serious about tech support” and get a call back. :)

    It is getting better though…

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      No offense taken – at least they are listening though and they totally
      get the issues.

  • Dave

    I’m curious how you and your partners like Google Apps for the more mundane operational tasks. Spreadsheets, financial reports, legal documents (particularly financing documents and redlines/track changes), presentations, etc. I love Gmail, find calendar useful personally but a bit underpowered for enterprise/multi-party scheduling (Outlook is way overpowered though) and have always found Google docs lacking.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Gmail: Awesome
      Calendar: Fine
      Contacts: Fine
      Chat/Call/Video: Awesome
      Docs: Good enough for most stuff. We have Word and Excel on all our
      machines and anything heavy duty ends up in there.

      • Dave

        Ah, that makes sense. I’d seen Jason refer to not having any Microsoft code on his machines so thought you were all going MSFT free. Your most interesting “awesome” is chat/call/video to me, wishing I could get that at the office. Thanks Brad.

        • http://www.feld.com bfeld

          I tried for a while to just do Pages and Numbers but they weren’t up
          to snuff. Keynote, however, is => Powerpoint.

          • http://daleallyn.com Dale Allyn

            In my opinion, if Google would adopt a couple of UI elements from Apple’s iChat it would be greatly improved. For me, Google chat is much worse in terms of readability. I’ve converted several hardcore Google chat users to iChat until Google catches up.

            Now to be fair, I’ve not used Google chat in a few months, but the simple changes I’d love to see are: left and right position of participants in the chat window, i.e. one on the left, one on the right. Far fewer short replies are missed in this format during active exchanges.

            Secondly, different text color for each participant would make it much easier to follow. I do some long-distance coding sessions and we either work by telephone, audio chat, or text chat during the sessions. The iChat UI (though we don’t need the cartoon bubbles ;) has proven much easier for all. Not all are Mac users, so a couple are using a different client, but the comments have been the same.

  • http://20minus.com Thanasis Polychronakis

    Hey Brad, I am on the same camp with you on google Apps… my only issue is that simple feature that is missing, “Notes”. I know at one time you also had this problem but i can’t find any post relative to a solution…

    Currently i have started to use evernote but not playing nice with exporting kills me (only their proprietary format or html). I also noticed @om Malik mentioning simple note, which is too simple and quite lacking in features…. Apart from the i-am-jailed feeling, Evernote serves me well so far….

    Have you solved the “notes” issue? Are you satisfied so far?

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      I bailed on the notes / tasks issue. I have been able to figure out
      how to use Gmail, Docs, and Sites to replace all of my previous
      workflow.

      • http://20minus.com Thanasis Polychronakis

        Hmmmm guess i have to jump ship and use an Android, cause i’m not seeing anything sweet with Docs and my iPhone happening… If that’s not the case then i’d love to see a post on how you replaced Notes / Tasks withs Docs (!) Sounds pretty amazing… Im all set with Tasks, using Google’s Tasks and GoTasks on the iPhone, pretty cool so far…

        • http://www.feld.com bfeld

          I never really used Notes so that wasn’t a big issue for me. We now
          use Sites for things that we would previously have put into Outlook
          Notes.

  • StevenHB

    Google may be making progress towards attaching the enterprise, but they have significant addtional distance to go. I recently switched to an Android phone (Samsung Captivate / AT&T). The problems I’ve had integrating the phone with Exchange say to me that they’re not serious. Sure, Google thinks that their mail system is a better solution but most enterprises are still running non-Google mail.

    I had to upgrade the OS to 2.2 (voiding the warranty) because calendar integration didn’t work at all with 2.1 (how did that get out the door?). Even with 2.2, if I change the time of a meeting, on the phone, to which others are invited, updates aren’t sent to them.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      I was able to get pretty solid Android 2.1 and Android 2.2 integration
      with Exchange. If you want some help, drop me a note separately.

  • Guest

    Slowly, Google is helping us weave all these tools together.

    Not long ago I revived an old blogspot account I forgot I had and was surprised by how easy Blogger has become to customize and link up a lot of my other Google tools, especially Youtube, News and Ads. Drag and drop design with lots of great templates and widgets to choose from. In fifteen minutes I had a pretty fancy looking site.

    http://gerohero.blogspot.com

    Unfortunately, I don’t see any obvious way to get rid of the orange “B” for blogger branding. Tumblr grows for many reasons, but I think good white labeling is a big part of it. (Posterous and Blogger make it too obvious the site is merely part of a humble ‘blog’ network despite the fact that a good general purpose content site can be made.)

  • sk

    From a consumer perspective, Google really needs to put some thought into and spend time on writing better user guides to their products/functionality. Their website based help /knowledge base stinks when compared to the professional documents being produced by Apple and even Microsoft. In my experience, the only way to use these apps effectively is to ask around within the community and hope someone has the answers !

  • Daniel_todd

    Brad I agree they are awesome and if you consider all the add-ons you get the really great functionality.

  • Harry Forsdick

    Brad,

    Do you think your conclusions apply to an enterprise of 1 person: me? I.e., should I expand my usage beyond GMail, GDocs, YouTube, GMaps, GEarth, GSketchup? Does GApps give me something extra?

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      For one person, probably not.

  • Brianp

    I don’t think Google gets enterprise at all, they don’t really have any customers there and the tools they build lack integration completeness that would be needed for such a feat. For example….Google docs lacks offline access. They had it then removed it, without saying anything about it. Completely useless during on a plane.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      I disagree with your perspective.

      Specifically regarding offline access, they decided to move from Gears
      to HTML5 within Chrome. Gears still works with Firefox so you actually
      can do offline access that way. That said, I prefer either Mac Mail or
      Sparrow Mail on the Mac for offline access – both work perfectly fine
      with Gmail.

      If you are on a Windows machine, there are plenty of other options,
      including of course Outlook.

  • http://about.me/matthew.trifiro Matthew_Trifiro

    I too have become a total fan boy of Google Apps. Simultaneous team-editing of a document is mind-blowing.

  • http://getabl.wordpress.com/ markslater

    our entire “back office” is in google apps. I would not try and build a company any other way now frankly. My previous company we built on top of box.net – also awsome but the email integration on google puts it over the top.

  • Anonymous

    Brad, speaks well of Google that they got back to you so quickly and listened to your feedback. I read your comments about Google Docs below and was curious how far away you think Google is from getting you to switch over from Office. Will Office always be worth $100 per machine to you or whatever or do you think if Google spreadsheets and docs got 50% better or whatever the number is that you would switch. People always debate the demise of MSFT so given that you are further along in Google Apps than most would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks so much for your time, Adrian Meli

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      The only think I use Word for is the book I’m writing. I do everything
      else in Google Docs.

      I rarely use Excel anymore but if you are a heavy spreadsheet user you need it.

  • http://www.mehulkar.com mehulkar

    I wish Google would give me a call when I wanted something that would make my life easier..

  • http://www.mehulkar.com mehulkar

    I wish Google would give me a call when I wanted something that would make my life easier..

  • http://twitter.com/tatvictoria Tatiana

    clicked on @loic’s link to your article re: google contact cap (I agree re: more enterprise support – it’s laughable, I have some of my own funny (read:bad) correspondence. Anyway, from one gmail lover to another: http://knotpr.com/en/article-type/blog/for-the-love-of-gmail

  • http://twitter.com/tatvictoria Tatiana

    clicked on @loic’s link to your article re: google contact cap (I agree re: more enterprise support – it’s laughable, I have some of my own funny (read:bad) correspondence. Anyway, from one gmail lover to another: http://knotpr.com/en/article-type/blog/for-the-love-of-gmail

  • http://twitter.com/tatvictoria Tatiana

    clicked on @loic’s link to your article re: google contact cap (I agree re: more enterprise support – it’s laughable, I have some of my own funny (read:bad) correspondence. Anyway, from one gmail lover to another: http://knotpr.com/en/article-type/blog/for-the-love-of-gmail

  • http://www.startupaddict.com/blog StartupAddict

    I agree Brad. I reluctantly abandoned Outlook as a desktop client recently. Since migrating to Google apps including insightly & mailchimp it has been an absolute CRM powerhouse. Outlook should be renamed “lookout”.

  • http://www.startupaddict.com/blog StartupAddict

    I agree Brad. I reluctantly abandoned Outlook as a desktop client recently. Since migrating to Google apps including insightly & mailchimp it has been an absolute CRM powerhouse. Outlook should be renamed “lookout”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/toddmitchell Todd Mitchell

    I switched over to Google Apps about 6 months ago after running my own mail server on Linux for years. I just got tired and having to patch and maintain my own mail server. Google provides a very reliable service for little money.

    I am a bit surprised that the transition to Google apps hasn’t been more quick — although, amongst my personal network the momentum is gaining.

  • http://www.facebook.com/toddmitchell Todd Mitchell

    I switched over to Google Apps about 6 months ago after running my own mail server on Linux for years. I just got tired and having to patch and maintain my own mail server. Google provides a very reliable service for little money.

    I am a bit surprised that the transition to Google apps hasn’t been more quick — although, amongst my personal network the momentum is gaining.

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