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Summary:

Scribd, the San Francisco-based startup that was dubbed the “YouTube of Documents,” has finally become worthy of that sobriquet. While I don’t care much about community around documents, I love the concept of the dead simple sharing of documents. And that’s precisely what this 10-person startup […]

Scribd, the San Francisco-based startup that was dubbed the “YouTube of Documents,” has finally become worthy of that sobriquet. While I don’t care much about community around documents, I love the concept of the dead simple sharing of documents. And that’s precisely what this 10-person startup that raised close to $5 million in funding from Redpoint Ventures has done with its new viewer called iPaper.

The company has also introduced an API that will make it easy for others publishers to plug Scribd into their systems. More on that later, but first let’s talk about their new iPaper, which CEO & Co-founder Trip Adler showed me over the weekend.

Like the YouTube video player, the iPaper viewer utilizes Adobe’s Flash technology. Adler says that it took the company about six months to develop this player; it replaces the older player, which was (ironically) based on Macromedia’s Flash Paper technology. Adler says this gives his company a competitive advantage over rivals including Adobe.

ipaper.gif
The iPaper app does pretty much everything you expect from Adobe Acrobat Reader, despite its tiny footprint. You can embed the documents, share them, do full text search, and there are many view modes. It is really, really fast — mostly because the document is “streamed” to iPaper instead of it being downloaded, like in case of Microsoft Office or PDF files. (I wonder why Adobe didn’t develop an iPaper viewer of its own. I guess they didn’t learn the lessons of online video.) The coolest thing about the iPaper demo was Scribd’s ability to embed Google text ads inside the documents being viewed. This makes non web-pages suddenly monetizable. The advertising revenues are split between the publisher and Scribd. I think this is an important development and explains why, unlike more enterprise-focused Docstoc, Scribd is focusing on the consumer market. There is no way for Google to advertise against non-HTML documents such as PDF format files. iPlayer opens up a big new inventory for Google. If the tiny startup can replicate the popularity of YouTube, it has suddenly made itself a possible acquisition candidate for Google. Of course, no one has been able to replicate YouTube and its success is something for Adler and his co-founders to think about.

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  1. I believe that Adobe did attempt to do this. They call it Flash Paper. It was no where near as successful as they had hoped. I am not sure that they ever got to the “streaming” part but I believe flash itself has streaming content capabilities when combined with the Flash Media Server.

  2. Gave it a shot based on the recommendation, but looks like it isn’t up and running yet – error message said the embed code they gave me was the “old” version.

    Looks promising though!

  3. [I wonder why Adobe didn’t develop an iPaper viewer of its own. I guess they didn’t learn the lessons of online video.]

    Check out Adobe Share. It’s a web-based application written in AIR that has similar functionality.

  4. @Dwight,

    You have a link for that? THanks

  5. Adobe Share is clunky and you have to install all the AIR crap before you use it.

  6. Scribd iPaper – Embed Documents in Web Pages, Also Make Money via Google AdSense at Henricus Tuesday, February 19, 2008

    [...] Scribd iPaper | Video Demo | FAQ | Thanks Om. [...]

  7. Neel: the embed codes have been fixed and now display the iPaper code

  8. PS. you do not need AIR to use this, and its a simple online tool to share and store different types of media including:

    Microsoft Office 2003 and 2007 formats, Rich Text Format (RTF), Open Office formats, text, and PDF.
    • HTML
    • Adobe supported image formats: GIF, JPEG, BMP, PNG
    • Creative Suite file formats
    • SWF and Captivate formats
    • ZIP

  9. Box.net Blog » Blog Archive » Scribd launches iPaper; OpenBox services on shared pages Tuesday, February 19, 2008

    [...] morning, in conjunction with Scribd’s launch of iPaper, we’re announcing that OpenBox services will be available on shared file pages. This means [...]

  10. “There is no way for Google to advertise against non-HTML documents such as PDF format files.”

    Them’s fighting words Om.

  11. Spaß mit Dokumenten im Web – Dank PdfMeNot und Scribd iPaper » Beitrag » zweinull.cc Tuesday, February 19, 2008

    [...] Funktionen von Desktop-Readern im Browser realisiert. Sechs Monate lang hat das Scribd-Team laut GigaOm an einem neuen Viewer namens Scribd iPaper gerabeitet. Hinter diesem Apple-like Namen steckt ein [...]

  12. “If the tiny startup can replicate the popularity of YouTube…”

    Somehow I don’t see people getting quite as excited about online documents as they would online videos. Kinda like saying a library should be just as popular as a movie theater on Friday night. I can see great advantages in a business environment, but not much for the general consumer market.

  13. iPaper, o como incrustar ficheros de Scribd Tuesday, February 19, 2008

    [...] | GigaOm. Más información | [...]

  14. Is Scribd’s New iPaper a PDF Killer?– bub.blicio.us Tuesday, February 19, 2008

    [...] More at GigaOM. [...]

  15. malcolm stanley Tuesday, February 19, 2008

    Just a purely mechanical observation:

    I just went and looked at Scribd and found a document of interest. When I went to blog it there was no simple way to copy the paragraph that demonstrated its importance so I could paste it into my blog.

    You CAN embed the entire document and you CAN download the document for further use, and those are valuable features, but without the ability to copy/paste right off the display this will be a richly frustrating experience for bloggers, who will find a trove to explore and a multi-step not quite thought through process they must traverse every time they share.

    just my 2Cents… very close guys. Very close.

  16. Tecnologia » Blog Archiv » iPaper, o como incrustar ficheros de Scribd Tuesday, February 19, 2008

    [...] | GigaOm. Más información | [...]

  17. Adobe currently partners with Yahoo! to deliver advertising-supported PDFs.

    http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/adsforpdf/

    FlashPaper is a desktop application/convertor, and developers were always curious if Scribd received server-side licensing for the commercial convertor or simply applied a hack. The launch of iPaper solves the licensing issue for Scribd and may have been a required step for the company.

  18. Youtube for documents | Carel’s Conversations – blog Tuesday, February 19, 2008

    [...] OM Malik’s post on Scribd’s iPaper prompted me to try the service and so far and am very intrigued by the possibilities. It’s easy to sign up and the viewer works great. Here is an example of an embedded document. [...]

  19. looks great, altho i’m not clear on what’s all that different about iPaper from the original Macromedia Flashpaper i first took a look at about 4 years ago (which i thought was awesome way back then). why Adobe couldn’t be doing this too, except for perhaps Acrobt / PDF corporate fiefdoms at risk? can someone elucidate further?

    anyway, it’s an interesting product regardless… and Scribd looks like a winner.

    along with Scribd, i’m very impressed with SlideShare.net. they’re doing something similar, altho a bit more on the professional side for presentations & powerepoints. if Scribd is YouTube, then maybe SlideShare is Flickr. actually i might say Scribd’s audience is Facebook; SlideShare’s audience is LinkedIn.

    (full disclosure: recently became an investor/advisor in SlideShare, however i’ve been using it fanatically for over a year…)

  20. Scribd launches iPaper: Embed documents on any site | money news blog Tuesday, February 19, 2008

    [...] [via GigaOm] [...]

  21. @rohit,

    what’s a little needling between friends. Anyway it is time Google did something new with AdSense. ;-)

  22. @ Dave

    Dude i think the search, flipping through pages, different views and smaller foot print are some of the key differences. I think Adobe should have done this a long time ago, but they didn’t and that is precisely the problem most incumbents have – fiefdoms as you said yourself.

  23. TechCrunch Japanese アーカイブ » Scribd、アドセンスで稼げるウェブ文書共有ビューア「iPaper」で一歩リード Tuesday, February 19, 2008

    [...] *GigaOMによると全文検索も可能、APIも公開になったようです。 [...]

  24. actually now that i think about it i think it’s EXACTLY the Acrobat fiefdoms at risk.

    Consider:
    * Macromedia comes out with FlashPaper, great Acrobat competitor that doesn’t require huge-ass download every time (Flash is on 98% of browsers)
    * Adobe buys Macromedia, realizes it doesn’t need 2 technologies, quietly asphyxiates FlashPaper before people realize how much better it is
    * Scribd takes a look, realizes it can rebuild FlashPaper as iPaper and kick Adobe’s Acrobat ass with Macromedia’s old product
    * Scribd adds some monetization features for $$$ & differentiation

    fucking brilliant. why didn’t i think of that?

    damn.

  25. Scribd: Cool feature or actual business? – – mathewingram.com/work Tuesday, February 19, 2008

    [...] to say that I felt that old twinge of concern when I first saw Scribd, which just re-launched with a new format and features, including its own Flash-based document viewer. I think the service is great, but the business [...]

  26. Scott Lawton (Blogcosm) Tuesday, February 19, 2008

    Kevin Kelly’s True Films eBook includes Adobe/Yahoo contextual ads: http://www.kk.org/cooltools/archives/002538.php (December 29, 2007)

  27. Adobe’s PDF is capable of streaming since probably version 4.0. However, applications that create PDFs (including Acrobat) will not always enable the “Fast Web View” or the user neglects to “optimize” the file.

    In addition, the web application serving the PDF file to the browser must also be “streaming” enabled — which is fortunately the case with almost all of the modern web platforms.

    It is nice to see a tightly coupled (server + client) application where streaming is natural and not a user option.

  28. iPaper, visor para archivos de Word, Excel, PowerPoint y PDFs Tuesday, February 19, 2008

    [...] Vía Giga OM Si te gustó este artículo, suscribete a nuestro RSS Feed Prohibida su copia total [...]

  29. Scribd iPaper: New Format for Web Documents Tuesday, February 19, 2008

    [...] Scribd also launched an API for iPaper, using these tools publishers can earn money by displaying adsense ads in their documents. The ad revenue is shared between the publisher and Scribd. Scribd QuickSwitch mode provides a code to paste in your sites, and all the documents you uploaded earlier will be converted to iPaper format. Source: GigaOm [...]

  30. The Universal Desktop mobile edition Tuesday, February 19, 2008

    [...] rolled out a new version of their document sharing application with an improved Flash-based interface and the ability to [...]

  31. Marc’s Voice » Blog Archive » Even fresher, the latest of the late new Blogging – mid-Feb 08 #2 Tuesday, February 19, 2008

    [...] to be the worst code ever written taking over a minute to load a ton of crap – which I never use.  So my heart jumped when I heard about Scribd.   Goodbye [...]

  32. 50 Stories » Blog Archive » iPaper. Just like FlashPaper … but … uh … just like it? Tuesday, February 19, 2008

    [...] Gigaom has a perspective on some of the iPaper “advantages.” [...]

  33. iPaper Is a Big Time Competitor « Legal Frontier Tuesday, February 19, 2008

    [...] take on [...]

  34. That service looks naive, have a look at http://issuu.com/ much more professional and eye appealing too! & it’s for free

  35. I have uploaded a sample pdf file to scribd and when i embed that file in my blog it says file is of older version. Any fix for it.

  36. to get youtube-class buzz virality would would almost certainly involve massive copyright infringement across a far wider range of publishers, with a clear financial model (ads) for them to attack. awesome.

  37. Scribd bringt webbasierten Viewer für Office-Dateien – Internet und Kommunikation | ZDNet.de News Wednesday, February 20, 2008

    [...] Mit Ipaper hat die Dokumentenaustausch-Plattform Scribd einen flashbasierten Online-Viewer veröffentlicht, der Office- und PDF-Dateien direkt im Browser anzeigen kann. Das Ipaper-System erkennt neben PDF-, Postscript-, Word-, Excel-, Powerpoint-Dateien auch RTF-, Open-Office- und ODF-Dokumente. Mit Ipaper will Scribd laut CEO Trip Adler mit Adobe Reader konkurrieren. [...]

  38. Business Hacks mobile edition Wednesday, February 20, 2008

    [...] That aspect alone separates iPaper from document-sharing services like DocStoc and Issuu, though I think the latter offers a much slicker viewer. What’s your take? [via GigaOm] [...]

  39.   Scribd’s iPaper Plan — Instant Web Meetings.COM – Video Conference, Collaboration, E Learning, Unified Communications Wednesday, February 20, 2008

    [...] SOURCE  [...]

  40. Scribd needs to get their copyright and licensing straight before they are going to go anywhere. (Flickr is a great model.) Everything on Scribd is licensed using a CC-BY-NC license, even though at no point does the user agree to this license. Scribd seems to be willfully ignorant in regard to copyright and licensing. Their video promoting ipaper uses several documents (supposedly licensed under the CC-BY-NC license) without attribution and for the commercial purpose of promoting their service.

    Legally, if the license doesn’t hold up, then no one can reuse, redistribute, or even embed documents on Scribd. This seems to be quite a problem for their advertising model.

  41. James Governor’s Monkchips » links for 2008-02-20 Wednesday, February 20, 2008

    [...] Scribd’s iPaper Plan – GigaOM i thought FlashPaper was a very cool idea, so this is interesting. I do worry however that building an ad model on top of “user generated content” is likely to make youtube copyright infringement look like an easily managed cakewalk (tags: Flash scribd) [...]

  42. Web Worker Daily » Archive Box.net + iPaper: Free Document Viewing and Storage « Friday, February 22, 2008

    [...] Earlier this week, the small startup Sribd launched its new iPaper viewer, which Om Malik did a review of with screenshots. Om sees iPaper as doing “pretty much everything you expect from Adobe Acrobat Reader, despite [...]

  43. Scribd / iPaper – Product Review | Shiva’s Mind Inspirations – Me Being Myself Monday, March 3, 2008

    [...] GigaOm, I am more in favor of ease in sharing documents online and review quickly. If your interest is in [...]

  44. What is the connection, if any, between Scribd’s iPaper and the Danmark-based firm called iPaper? http://www.ipaper.dk Aren’t the guys at Scribd a copycat?

  45. Adobe Launches Hosted Services With Photoshop Express – GigaOM Thursday, March 27, 2008

    [...] other software programs, especially given the potential for competition from companies such as iScribd. When Adobe launched its hybrid rich Internet application development platform AIR, CTO Kevin Lynch [...]

  46. Web Worker Daily » Archive Turn Paper into iPaper « Wednesday, April 2, 2008

    [...] Scribd, the startup that lets you share documents in a very spiffy online viewer (here’s the review at our parent site GigaOm). Now there’s a new way to get documents into their system, getting the benefits of unlimited [...]

  47. Same Ideas; Different Lenses « Monday, April 7, 2008

    [...] brainstorm some new Web 2.0 approaches for Scribd, a client that has some momentum coming off a big news announcement of iPaper last [...]

  48. You Cant save it……….

  49. With Apture, Hyperlinks Get Rich Media – GigaOM Monday, April 14, 2008

    [...] manner, including Wikipedia references, YouTube videos and photos from Flickr, or even PDF files (using Scribd’s iPaper technology.) You can manually add links from your own archives. (See [...]

  50. DocStoc Raises $3.25 Million in Series B Funding – GigaOM Monday, April 28, 2008

    [...] competitor, Scribd, which has reportedly raised $3.5 million from Redpoint Ventures, and recently announced iPaper. In comparison with Scribd, DocStoc is focusing on sharing of “business and legal [...]

  51. Scribd’s iPaper Plan « Bladewriter Blog Friday, December 12, 2008

    [...] of gigaom review here [...]

  52. Scribd Raises $9 Million. Still Working On Business? Friday, December 19, 2008

    [...] Hills Group. It had previously raised $5.3 million in funding, much of which was spent on building its iPaper technology. That technology is actually pretty cool, and is a worthy rival to Adobe’s Flashpaper [...]

  53. You can share and display any document (more than 200 document types) in your own blog or on any website where you can add html code. Simply copy paste the embed code from Docuter into your blog or web page and give a unique viewing experience to your users.
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  54. Scribd Streamlines Embedded Docs With iPaper 2 Friday, July 10, 2009

    [...] launched the latest version of iPaper, the site’s online document viewer. Scribd originally debuted iPaper in February 2008, after deciding that the existing Flash Paper viewer developed by Adobe [...]

  55. Mash123 » Scribd Streamlines Embedded Docs With iPaper 2 Friday, July 10, 2009

    [...] version of iPaper, the site’s online document viewer. Scri&#98&#100&#32originally debuted iPaper in February 2008, after &#100&#101&#99iding that the existing Flash Paper viewer [...]

  56. Scribd Streamlines Embedded Docs With iPaper 2 | Viningmedia Nieuws Friday, July 10, 2009

    [...] launched the latest version of iPaper, the site’s online document viewer. Scribd originally debuted iPaper in February 2008, after deciding that the existing Flash Paper viewer developed by Adobe [...]

  57. Scribd Streamlines Embedded Docs With iPaper 2 | Cellphone Ultra Friday, July 10, 2009

    [...] launched the latest version of iPaper, the site’s online document viewer. Scribd originally debuted iPaper in February 2008, after deciding that the existing Flash Paper viewer developed by Adobe [...]

  58. Scribd Streamlines Embedded Docs With iPaper 2 | Tech Fused Friday, July 10, 2009

    [...] launched the latest version of iPaper, the site’s online document viewer. Scribd originally debuted iPaper in February 2008, after deciding that the existing Flash Paper viewer developed by Adobe [...]

  59. Scribd Streamlines Embedded Docs With iPaper 2 | The Good NET Guide Friday, July 10, 2009

    [...] launched the latest version of iPaper, the site’s online document viewer. Scribd originally debuted iPaper in February 2008, after deciding that the existing Flash Paper viewer developed by Adobe [...]

  60. Scribd Streamlines Embedded Docs With iPaper 2 | Friday, July 10, 2009

    [...] launched the latest version of iPaper, the site’s online document viewer. Scribd originally debuted iPaper in February 2008, after deciding that the existing Flash Paper viewer developed by Adobe [...]

  61. Scribd Streamlines Embedded Docs With iPaper 2 « TechM.US.TT Friday, July 10, 2009

    [...] launched the latest version of iPaper, the site’s online document viewer. Scribd originally debuted iPaper in February 2008, after deciding that the existing Flash Paper viewer developed by Adobe [...]

  62. The Far Edge » Blog Archive » Scribd Streamlines Embedded Docs With iPaper 2 Friday, July 10, 2009

    [...] just launched the latest version of iPaper, the site’s online document viewer. Scribd originally debuted iPaper in February 2008, after deciding that the existing Flash Paper viewer developed by Adobe [...]

  63. boreeed » Scribd Streamlines Embedded Docs With iPaper 2 Friday, July 10, 2009

    [...] launched the latest version of iPaper, the site’s online document viewer. Scribd originally debuted iPaper in February 2008, after deciding that the existing Flash Paper viewer developed by Adobe [...]

  64. U.S. Government Taps the Cloud to Fix IT Bureaucracy Tuesday, September 15, 2009

    [...] allows federal agencies to peruse through a menu of software offerings from Google, Salesforce.com, Scribd, SlideShare and others, then select the application or services they’d like to buy. So far [...]

  65. Crocodoc’s New HTML5 Viewer Promises Better Speed and Accuracy: Online Collaboration « Wednesday, February 16, 2011

    [...] can be a headache within a distributed workforce. Thus, services like Google Docs, Zoho Docs, and Scribd are popular. Today, however, the online document service Crocodoc, which Thursday wrote about last [...]

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