Airtable Brings The Spreadsheet Into The 21st Century

Airtable Brings The Spreadsheet Into The 21st Century
Image: Airtable

Spreadsheets were one of the first “killer apps” of the PC age. They enabled desktop computers to move from being glorified typewriters and toys into an essential business tool. Now, a Silicon Valley start-up is changing the face of the spreadsheet, bringing it forth to the 21st century.

Airtable lets you add any object you like into the cells of a spreadsheet. That object can be a photo, list of items, a video or just about anything else. Then, you can easily add a presentation layer over the top of that so it can be easily converted into an app.

According to Airtable’s CEO, Howie Liu, “It really allows people with little or no technical knowledge to build high-level workflow systems”.

The app is popular with many large companies including Tesla, Airbnb and Netflix and recently won a significant round of funding as well as being supported by actor Ashton Kutcher, who is well-known for supporting promising start ups.

Spreadsheets haven’t significantly changed over the last few years and Liu, whose first company was sold to Salesforce when he was just 21 years old back in 2010, saw an opportunity to do more than the current market leaders, Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets.

The company’s strategy is to sell into enterprises first, unlike many start ups that try to gain their foothold by pitching to other small companies. That means they are more likely to generate revenues that could see them last longer than many other smart apps that flame out after an initial round of interest.


  • The examples point to it being much more like a database than a spreadsheet, as it’s very record-based and I don’t see any of the interconnectedness of a spreadsheet. A database grid with columnar types is not a spreadsheet.

    • I think there a lot of people that use spreadsheets as a project management tool, which they were never designed to do. Airtable is catering to this group. It’s an easy starting point because everyone is familiar with a spreadsheet.

      But, yes. It’s basically a database similar to Zenkit or Asana.

  • Looks interesting and useful, but it will only replace spreadsheets for people that use them to store lists of information. I don’t think Bob from accounts will be using any time soon.

  • It acts more like a CRM or PMS rather than a “cool dangle spreadsheet replacer!” Honestly, you can get better from programs like Zoho or Freedcamp if you really want something like this anyway.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!