ClickUp rolls out new collab tools in addition to its run rate

The startup makes a customizable workplace productivity platform that serves all departments across an organization, and people apparently are intrigued.

So how in the world does a non-high-visibility software company rocket from a $4 million run rate (in 2019) to one of $70 million (2021) in a mere 24 months? For 4-year-old startup ClickUp, the answer from VP of Operations Aaron Cort was pretty simple: its highly successful combination of product-led growth and organic marketing.

"It starts with the product experience -- that was the No. 1 thing," Cort told ZDNet at the recent SaaStr conference. "The founders were just obsessed with it; they'd release new features every single week for a long time, and that was what allowed us to get traction in a very busy marketplace in a short amount of time."

The San Diego-based company makes a customizable workplace productivity platform that serves all departments across an organization, and a lot of people apparently are intrigued. Its API enables any work application in the door so that teams from various corners of an enterprise can use them without the barriers that currently hamstring collaboration for people working together on tasks and projects.

This is a newsy time window for the young company. On Oct. 27, CEO and founder Zeb Evans revealed a $400 million Series C venture capital investment that gives his company a $4 billion valuation. For the record, the funding round was co-led by Andreessen Horowitz and Tiger Global, with participation from Lightspeed Venture Partners and Meritech Capital Partners.

A new take on digital whiteboards

On Nov. 9, at the company's LevelUp conference, Evans, Cort, and their team introduced a new feature, ClickUp Whiteboards, along with a revamped version of an already-well-used standard, ClickUp Docs.

"Even as teams move to remote or hybrid working environments, whiteboards have an essential role to play when it comes to collaboration," Evans wrote in a blogpost. "The rise of collaborative whiteboard solutions has filled the void for how distributed teams brainstorm and conjure up ideas. With the global interactive whiteboards market expected to reach $2.31 billion by 2025, it's clear just how popular these tools are."

ClickUp claims that its Whiteboards is the only collaborative tool that enables all teams to turn real-time ideas directly into projects that integrate with their work. 

Launching as a public beta for all users, Whiteboard includes these features:

Editing Tools: Users add content to Whiteboards in a variety of ways, from drawing to text, shapes, notes, and even the ability to embed images and other media files.

Real-Time Collaboration: Users collaborate with teams from any location, see their edits in real-time, and track cursor movements for seamless interactions.

Tasks in Whiteboard: Users can easily add existing ClickUp Tasks into Whiteboards, find links between tasks, docs, and all other work, and create new tasks directly from Whiteboards and have them immediately added into their boards for execution.

Sharing: Users can share a Whiteboard with anyone across an organization.

Use any flavor doc in any project

ClickUp Docs can connect all documents used in any project natively in one platform, Evans said. This takes in Microsoft Word, Google Docs, Open Office docs, and others. Some of the 50 new features include:

Docs as Knowledge Bases: Users can view and interact with projects and tasks directly in docs and use them to organize all work by bringing them directly into the Spaces Sidebar.

Quick Access & Sidebar Menu: A new area in docs that provides easy access to every feature within a document, including layers of customization and interactive features such as typography, cover images, header sections, stats, and page protections.

Focus Mode: This automatically fades away all distractions and visually focuses on key sections, paragraphs, or sentences within a doc.

Relationships: Now you can see everything related to a doc, including related tasks, contributors, or other pages, all in one place right within a doc.

Culture of new ideas

How did ClickUp come out of nowhere to take market share from larger, more well-known companies? Wrike, Hubspot, Monday.com, Microsoft To Do, Google Tasks, Evernote, and Asana are only a few of the heavyweights in this space.

"Platforms weren't changing," Cort told ZDNet. "I won't mention any competitors, but there were a lot that had been around more than a decade and hadn't moved very much. We were all centered on product, and everything else was layered around it."

How did ClickUp become so innovative? "It comes down to our culture within our company," Cort said. "It's the whole growth mindset, testing, experimentation, always trying to be better. It's like an errand within the culture that translates into the product and into the people we bring on--that's where it all starts."

ClickUp sells a $5-per-month / per-user plan, billed annually that gives users access to task management software, docs, and wikis, chat, and integrations with a host of other popular tools.