the cloud


Dropbox has been around for 11 years now, and they are finally at the stage where they are ready to go public.  This is a huge milestone for Dropbox and is also one of the most anticipated tech IPOs for several years now.  It was known that they had already filed confidentially, but the company is now unveiling their filing.  Which means, the IPO is likely to happen very soon.  Perhaps as early as late March.  Want to hear some incredible numbers associated with Dropbox?  They had $1.1 billion in revenue last year.  Which is up from $845 million the year before, and only $604 million in 2015.

While those numbers are incredible, Dropbox wasn’t able to make a profit last year. They lost $112 million last year.  But this is showing significantly improved margins when compared to losses of $210 million for 2016 and $326 million for 2015.  Dropbox has approximately 11 million paying users, and about 500 million who use the service for free.  Again – all of these are some pretty incredible numbers.


Now, they are looking for a $10 billion valuation in order to go public.  And the big question is – can they achieve this?  This is an insanely competitive landscape at the moment.  I mean, who doesn’t have a cloud sharing platform of one kind or another?  The Dropbox prospectus warns of the competitive nature of the industry:

“The market for content collaboration platforms is competitive and rapidly changing. Certain features of our platform compete in the cloud storage market with products offered by Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft, and in the content collaboration market with products offered by Atlassian, Google, and Microsoft. We compete with Box on a more limited basis in the cloud storage market for deployments by large enterprises.”

A fun story that Drew Houston, founder of Dropbox, has to share is that Steve Jobs referred to Dropbox as a “feature, not a product”.  Which might just sound like something fun to talk about, but according to Houston, the conversation was intense:

And so he started trolling us a little bit, saying we’re a feature, not a product, and telling us a bunch of things like that we don’t control an operating system so we’re going to be disadvantaged, we’re going to have to figure out distribution deals, which are risky, and sort of a bunch of business-plan critiques. But then he was like, ‘Alright, well I guess we’re gonna have to go kill you, basically.’ Maybe not in those words, but pretty close.


While I think Steve Jobs was a visionary, he wasn’t able to see that the future of storage is in the cloud.  Which is why Houston was able to take something that might have seemed so insignificant to a lot of people and turned it into a household name.  But not only that, Dropbox is an incredibly helpful and powerful tool.  Sure there are other tools out there that offer similar functionality, but honestly, where do you go when you have large files that you want to share with family members? Dropbox.

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