Blockspring: Do Anything in a Spreadsheet

Balaji Srinivasan

Posted July 29, 2015

“Learn to code,” they say. But most working professionals don’t have the time to do that. They know that software is becoming more central to their business, and they’d love to learn how to code, but they can’t spare months or years to self-educate in computer science. They just need an easier on-ramp to their internal database to do things like comparing projected revenue to actual revenue in order to close out this month’s financials.

Enter Blockspring.

Blockspring can be understood on several levels. At first blush, the product turns the billion-plus spreadsheet users into miniature software engineers. Just load up Excel or Google Sheets, do a little setup, and voila: you now have access to hundreds of web services. Your humble spreadsheet is now capable of doing things like generating news feeds on competitors, downloading data from public databases, getting real-time pricing for products on Amazon, and analyzing social sentiment on your company – all with the single BLOCKSPRING function.

But that’s just the start. You don’t need to limit yourself to the public functions Blockspring has made globally accessible. In minutes, your engineers can set up your own functions that use your internal databases, private services, and any vendors you work with. Suddenly any financial analyst in your company, given the right permissions, can type =BLOCKSPRING into a spreadsheet to build a model driven by real-time company data. The Blockspring function works just like any other spreadsheet function, so your financial model recalculates and stays up to date even as the underlying data changes – saving countless hours of error-prone manual labor.

At this point, the engineers in your building are getting excited. They no longer need to spend the next month building a new app for the financial analyst, then marketing the app internally, then training other analysts how to use it. With Blockspring Enterprise, IT is able to deliver more technology by building fewer tools. They simply use Blockspring to extend the tools their business is already built on and invested in. While plugins for Excel and Google Sheets are available today, in the next few months Blockspring will be releasing connections into Tableau, Slack, and other popular business tools.

We believe that Blockspring is likely to prove popular at companies regardless of industry. That’s because the three co-founders, all long-time friends from Chicago, were motivated to create Blockspring by the friction they saw between developers and end-users across very different companies: CEO Paul Katsen as the sole engineer at a consulting firm, Jason Tokoph in his time at a small tech startup, and Don Pinkus at Facebook. What we’ve seen is that Blockspring bridges the gap between developers (who build services and manage data) and power users (intelligent people who know how to use spreadsheets but not how to code).

As many of those spreadsheet power users happen to be senior leadership, we think Blockspring is poised to be extremely popular in executive suites across the country. That’s why I’m pleased to announce that Andreessen Horowitz is leading a new $3.4 million investment in Blockspring.