Google hires spreadsheet company founders

IRows, the developer of an online spreadsheet offering, will shut down later this year after its founders join Google

Google may be planning to beef up its online spreadsheet offering by hiring the founders of iRows, a browser-based spreadsheet service.

A posting to the iRows blog announced that Israeli service iRows will shut down on Dec. 31 and that the company's founders will join Google.

Google confirmed that it has hired iRows founders Yoah Bar-David and Itai Raz and that they will work in Google's Tel Aviv and Haifa research and development centers.

In June, Google introduced Google Spreadsheets, a Web-based offering that lets users create and share spreadsheets and documents online, without using a software program like Microsoft's Excel. The offering was developed based on Google's acquisition of 2Web Technologies, a company that specialized in online information sharing technology.

At the time of the Google Spreadsheet service launch, there was some speculation that Google had bought iRows to create the offering. In an iRows iRows blog posting, the founders wrote that the Google launch, though unrelated to iRows, drove more traffic to iRows than its servers could handle, presumably from people interested in other existing online spreadsheet offering. While iRows admitted that the Google offering has some more features than its own, iRows also has some additional capabilities that Google doesn't support.

When iRows closes, all data from user spreadsheets will be deleted. IRows details how customers can transport their spreadsheets to Google Spreadsheets. Customers won't be able to transfer charts, however, because they aren't supported by Google Spreadsheets. Some iRows users complained in postings on the blog about having to sign up to a Google account in order to use Google Spreadsheets.

Google's spreadsheet offering also competes with AdventNet's Zoho online spreadsheet and document offering and Team and Concepts's EditGrid.