Writely was a browser-based word processor created by Upstartle in 2005. It used a newly developed technology that allowed users to write and edit content within their browser. Writely could also convert documents into PDF format – something many users found quite convenient.
Google acquired Upstartle in March 2006. In hindsight, the purchase shouldn’t have been a surprise. Writely was Upstartle’s best tool and was gaining popularity fast. At the same time, there had been speculations that Google planned to rival Microsoft on the Office tools stage. The Writely technology could greatly help Google build a tool that could compete with, or even surpass, Microsoft Word.
After all, Google already had Google Drive as a great place to store and share documents online. The next step was to offer users the option to create and edit their documents directly online. That could be of great help to teams that often needed to update and synchronize different information.
After the acquisition, Google continued to support existing users of Writely but stopped registering new ones. In the years following the purchase, the tool morphed into what is today known as Google Docs.