A New Microsoft Excel Competitor Has Arisen: Rows Spreadsheets

Rows spreadsheets let users easily add data from Stripe, Google Analytics, Amazon Marketplace, and even Twitter.
Adam Rowe

A new desktop app for spreadsheets has just launched in beta — finally offering an alternative to the only other two market leaders, Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets.

The new app is from the Berlin-based spreadsheet software start-up Rows, and it's publicly available for all now on Windows and macOS, following a stealth launch in December.

Rows isn't hiding the fact that they aim to help users build spreadsheets at the same scale and efficiency as their more well-known competitors.

A Rows By Any Other Name

The company raised $16 million in February 2021, specifically in order to build this app, and their marketing campaign takes direct aim at Excel and Sheets.

The spreadsheet app game has a massive audience — Excel's app has over a billion installs on Android alone — so there's plenty of room for a scrappy upstart competitor. But what sets Rows apart?

One big change is the ability to integrate third-party APIs. Rows lets users easily pull in data from Stripe, Google Analytics, Amazon Marketplace, and even Twitter — services that small businesses might regularly need to gather data from, but which would require esoteric Excel or Sheets skills in order to do.

Rows can also be set to auto-update itself frequently with those APIs, giving managers a living document that can deliver near-real-time insights.

Spreadsheets and Business Software

Rows still has a lot of headway to make, given how deeply Excel and Sheets are embedded in the vast range of business software offered by their respective corporations, Microsoft and Google.

Both companies have interworking apps and services for CRM, email, calendars, cloud storage and a massive list of other softwares. Google's even in the vehicle route planning business, with two new tools out last week. Rows can't offer any of that inter-software connection — just a more flexible spreadsheet service than ever.

Rows currently has fewer than 4,000 weekly users, according to Tech Radar, so it has a long way to go, even though it's growing rapidly. Expect to see a lot more of the service as it works to boost visibility.

What's in the Future?

Will Rows manage to break through the current duopoloy in spreadsheets? Henrique Cruz, Head of Growth at Rows, is optimistic, and it's due to the changes in the business world over the past decade and a half.

“In the past 15 years have seen three very large changes in work setup (mobile-first, APIs and explosion of SaaS, and async first), and we are the first company building a pure spreadsheet for this new world.”

Those are changes that Excel and Sheets haven't bothered adapting. And since Rows is available for free, it's priced perfectly for any business that wants to check it out. More features will be rolled out across the year.

The service only offers one integration — with Zoho — out of all seven of our top picks for small business accounting software. But if or when Rows does integration with more softwares, they'll be a shoe-in for any small business or start-up that needs an immediate low-code spreadsheet solution.

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Adam is a writer at Tech.co and has worked as a tech writer, blogger and copy editor for more than a decade. He's also a Forbes Contributor on the publishing industry, for which he was named a Digital Book World 2018 award finalist. His work has appeared in publications including Popular Mechanics and IDG Connect, and he has an art history book on 1970s sci-fi coming out from Abrams Books in 2022. In the meantime, he's hunting own the latest news on VPNs, POS systems, and the future of tech.

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