Crocodoc, team

Downloading a PDF or Microsoft Office file from the web is easily one of the more antiquated practices still being used today. It’s also something cloud document startup Crocodoc wants to abolish with its new HTML5 document embedding service, which launches today.

If you’ve ever viewed a document in Dropbox, Yammer, or LinkedIn, then you’re using Crocodoc’s product. The startup’s service takes PDF and Microsoft office document files and replicates them online for wider consumption. While this functionality is also available in Google Docs, Crocodoc’s service preserves the document in a way that’s very similar to how it looks and functions within native desktop software. With Google, I can technically see the document, but often times a documents style, images, and other formatting is altered.

“You’re essentially getting something that’s on par with Adobe Acrobat or Microsoft Word, but within a web app, ” Crocodoc founder and CEO Ryan Damico told VentureBeat in an interview. “When you view a document in Google Docs, its much slower to load in the browser, everything is blurry when you try to zoom in, and there’s kind of faked text selection that doesn’t really look right.” He adds that while Google Docs is a consumer-focused product, its main focus isn’t in translating documents perfectly, which is necessary for many people.

Crocodoc’s new service can be embedded into a variety of third-party apps by using iFrame or JavaScript, and without the need for plugins or additional software. Customers can customize the doc experience to fit specific branding, and offer commenting and markup tools for collaboration with others.

The startup charges by the document, so its service will probably be most useful for businesses, or organizations that produce a heavy flow of documents that need to be shared among a large group. The startup’s first product, Crocodoc Personal, is targeted at consumers and still available. Its new product is already powering the document viewing experience within Yammer, SAP, LinkedIn, Edmodo, and Dropbox.

Founded in 2010, the San Francisco, Calif.-based startup has raised about $1 million to date. Its funding comes from Y Combinator, SV Angel, and top Silicon Valley investors including Dave McClure, Joshua Schachter, Paul Buchheit, and Steve Chen. Crocodoc has four employees, but has plans to double or triple its staff within a year, Damico said.

Photo of the Crocodoc team (above) and screenshots via Crocodoc