Shoes of Prey outs itself as a Google Apps fan



blog While we’re on the topic of software as a service-based office suites, we thought we’d point readers to this blog post on the blog of Google Australia by Mike Knapp, the co-founder and chief technology officer of Sydney-based ecommerce startup Shoes of Prey, which has achieved notoriety over the past few years for its innovative site, which allows women to design and order their own shoes, getting around the normal retail grind. In the blog, Knapp outs Shoes of Prey (which has around 40 staff) as a long-time Google Apps user. Some sample paragraphs:

“When we first started Shoes of Prey, we chose Google Apps for Business as our key technology solution. Much more than just email, we use the whole suite – docs, spreadsheets and presentations. One of the reasons we like using Google Apps is that it gives our staff the freedom and flexibility to work from home, allowing them to manage family commitments or just avoid the commute when the traffic turns nasty.

Having started with three people and grown to about 40, Google Apps for Business has scaled with us. Although we don’t know how many people we’ll have on staff in future, we do know that it won’t involve buying expensive servers or more IT upkeep. We’d recommend it to any SMB looking to set up and scale up big, as it has given us a lot of freedom and empowered us to work in new and innovative ways.”

There’s not a huge amount of technical detail here — in fact, it’s pretty much a puff piece for Google Apps — but Knapp’s comments are interesting to my mind, as in my experience they’re reflective of life in small business and startup land. When I see new startups formed these days and gradually morph into small (and sometimes large) businesses, I very rarely see any using anything but Gmail — Microsoft Outlook and Exchange are really nowhere in sight, although as some older employees join such companies, Microsoft Outlook may be used as an end user client for Gmail.

The non-Gmail portions of Apps (for example, word processing and spreadsheet work) are used much less than Gmail, in our experience, with it being more likely that small businesses will have on-premises deployments of Microsoft Office, although we are seeing gradually increasing usage of those apps, especially for online storage of documents, and for documents which need constant collaboration between several different employees.

What this post demonstrates to your writer more than anything else is an interesting long-term trend. Google Apps represents the first experience which many of Australia’s best and brightest young up-and-comers have with corporate IT (or, as it might more correctly be termed, non-corporate IT, or ‘do it yourself’ IT). What happens, for example, when Shoes of Prey gets acquired by a large multinational corporate for mega-dollars, and that company tries to force less flexible systems on the company than they’re used to with Apps? For those outside big corporates, at the moment, Google Apps is increasingly becoming the norm. The culture clash when that ethos meets the often static business systems of much larger organisations will be a challenge for quite a few people in the years ahead, in my estimation. I’ve been through similar experiences myself in the past, and it’s not pretty.

Image credit: Shoes of Prey


  1. Correct, both Michael Fox and Mike Knapp are ex-Googlers. Good for them – but Google was always in the DNA of these people.

  2. ” The culture clash when that ethos meets the often static business systems of much larger organisations will be a challenge for quite a few people in the years ahead, in my estimation.”

    In that situation right now =(

    Wrapping my head around Google apps right now. I’m used to good old AD and file servers being in the back room and having a directory I can get LDAP off.

    But its nice to get rid of the servers in the closet, I just have to worry about the networking.

    • All larger customers use some kind of single sign-on. GApps comes with free admin tools like Active Directory sync and it integrates with any saml2 or kerberos sso.

  3. Nice, a successful online Australian business that’s doing well!! And they pay GST!!

    See Gerry, it can be done!! ;o)

  4. They’re actually mentioned during some of the Google tech videos if I remember correctly, specifically they use GoogleScript which is a programming language within GoogleApps, so they can pull data from spreadsheets, calenders, etc, and build custom webpages on the fly.

    I’ve had a bit of a toy with it, only limitation I’ve found is that the scripts won’t run longer than 15mins which means I can’t leverage Googles processing power without stopping and starting the script :(

  5. Once they mature they’ll realise that Office is what they’ll need to succeed. My partner uses gmail in a corporate setting and the lack of folders support and ability to find the email when needed is driving her nuts. She’s tech savvy so don’t even start about search and tags. gmail and apps suck. Lucky for her the company – a NGO – is moving to Office 365.

    • I have to wonder how “tech savvy” she is, I have my Gmail setup so it’s pretty well equivalent to my mail. Set up right, tags are functionally equivalent to folders (in fact, they look/work exactly the same on my gmail and outlook accounts). I prefer the gmail account because the search is so much better than Microsofts (though google really need to add wildcards for it on gmail).

    • In spite of your request to not mention tags, tags are your folders. Either drag messages into tags from the main screen, or remove the inbox tag once another tag has been applied, then ‘bam’ same effect as moving to a folder.

      Sub tags can be used in the same way to make sub folders.

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