Half a million customers in, Nitro gets set to build a smart documents platform

Nitro has signed up its 500,000th business customer as it begins to switch its focus to building a smart documents platform.


The Australian-founded document productivity startup rode to success on the back of its Adobe Acrobat competitor, Nitro Pro, which turns 10 later this year. And while it’s still as popular as ever, Nitro founder and chief executive officer Sam Chandler says this year is the start of the second chapter of the company.


“[With] Nitro’s first chapter we were known as a PDF company. People called us Nitro PDF even though it wasn’t our name. It’s driven us insane at times,” Chandler says with a laugh.


“PDF doesn’t really suit this new era of browsers and mobile devices. So in this next chapter we think it’s actually about replacing that format with a smart documents platform and that’s what the Nitro Cloud is all about.”


Last November, Nitro raised $15 million in Series B funding led by Battery Ventures and capital has allowed the startup to hire 40 new staff over the past three months. Among the hires are a number of key executives: VP of global marketing, Ralf Von Sosen; VP of global sales, Dan Keefe; and a chief scientist, Alexy Khrabrov.


Chandler says the Series B round brought to a close the three-year period Nitro has spent getting ready for the transition to a subscription-based software-as-a-service future.


“It’s not easy to retool a business and do what we’re doing. Even at our size, I think we’ve got 170 or 180 people, so not thousands of people, so you would think it would be easy to say right everybody let’s turn around and focus on new things,” he says.


“But you develop core competencies and develop cultures around the things that make them successful. And for the next chapter it will take a whole new set of core competencies.


“It’s great to have well-known Silicon Valley coding evangelist Alexy Khrabrov join the team as chief scientist – a new role for Nitro HQ and one that reflects our renewed focus on designing the next generation of smart document solutions.”


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