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Airtable wants to become your everything platform

With a suite of new features—and $185 million in new funding—the popular workplace tool is betting that the future of work is more collaborative and open.

Airtable wants to become your everything platform
[Image: courtesy of Airtable]

Airtable is taking the next step in its evolution.

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The San Francisco startup said today it is launching a suite of new features and additional functionality aimed at making its project-management platform far more collaborative and customizable. The changes are also likely to leave Airtable—and the more than 200,000 companies that use its software—better positioned to thrive in our pandemic era of remote workplaces.

Among today’s announcements:

  • Airtable Apps: Airtable’s first “low-code” feature, based in the Javascript programming language, which lets users build their own apps or install open-source apps built by other developers on Airtable.
  • Marketplace: A place to share things you develop and benefit from tools developed by other users.
  • Automations: A feature that lets you more easily automate certain types of workflows, thereby reducing the need to do repetitive tasks.
  • Airtable Sync: A feature that lets teams and companies on Airtable more easily share specific data with each other, while still restricting access to sensitive information. (Airtable uses the example of an entertainment company sharing programming schedules with multiple departments while only allowing authorized users to edit release dates.)

Howie Liu, Airtable’s cofounder and CEO, says the rollout marks one of the most significant shifts for the company in its eight-year history. “We’re actually going from being a no-code platform to a true low-code platform,” he tells Fast Company.

[Image: courtesy of Airtable]
The expansion comes at a time when collaboration tools are infinitely more vital for companies and workers displaced from their physical offices by the coronavirus pandemic. A growing list of high-profile firms have said that they’ll allow their employees to work from home even after the pandemic ends, and experts expect at least some shifts in remote working trends will become permanent. Meanwhile, open-source platforms like GitLab—which has an all-remote workforce—are having a moment.

Liu says the goal is to make Airtable more of a fully formed online community by enabling more interconnectivity between organizations that use the platform. “With this new launch, different teams using Airtable within a company or between companies . . . they can actually connect their Airtable apps directly, link them as a shared source of truth while still maintaining the ability for each side to keep building their own app workflows,” Liu says.

[Image: courtesy of Airtable]
The new features also come with an announcement that Airtable the company is growing. It recently raised $185 million in a Series D round led by Thrive Capital, with help from existing investors including Benchmark, Coatue, Caffeinated Capital, and CRV. Another new investor, D1 Capital Partners, has also joined the mix.

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Airtable says it has raised $350 million to date, and its most recent valuation, after the latest funding round is factored in, puts it at $2.585 billion. For anyone keeping track, that’s about two and half times what Airtable was worth two years ago when it reached unicorn status.

All this beefing up could increase speculation about whether Airtable has an IPO in its near future, particularly in a year marked by buzzy listings from tech startups including Lemonade, ZoomInfo, and Vroom.

For now at least, Liu says he’s in no hurry to join them. “We’ve certainly gotten past the zero-to-one phase, but we have so much furious innovation and execution to do over the coming years,” he says. “It’s really not top of mind for us to even consider going public.”

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About the author

Christopher Zara is a senior staff news editor for Fast Company and obsessed with media, technology, business, culture, and theater. Before coming to FastCo News, he was a deputy editor at International Business Times, a theater critic for Newsweek, and managing editor of Show Business magazine

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