The rise of Dropbox CEO Drew Houston, who is taking his $10 billion company public years after Steve Jobs said he would destroy it

The rise of Dropbox CEO Drew Houston, who is taking his $10 billion company public years after Steve Jobs said he would destroy it

Drew Houston is on top of the world.

On Friday, his company, Dropbox, filed its S-1, making it Y Combinator’s first startup to ever file for an IPO.

The file sharing service that began as a two-person team in 2007 is now a sprawling enterprise with more than a thousand employees and a stock ticker symbol that’s soon to be listed on the NASDAQ. The cloud storage giant now provides services to more than 500 million people and generates a billion dollars in annual revenue. 

But things weren’t always easy for Houston or his company. He struggled with his initial entrepreneurial venture and faced several obstacles getting Dropbox off the ground. Dropbox has taken 10 years of growth to get to the point it’s at now. 

But Houston hung in there. Despite multiple opportunities to sell his company in its early stages — including a bid from Steve Jobs in 2009 — he held on.

Here’s a rundown of Houston’s journey from a precocious tech-loving kid to the CEO of a billion-dollar enterprise:

Houston had his eye on tech from an early age.

As he confirmed to Business Insider in an interview last year, Houston started programming when he was as young as five years old. He began working on ideas for startups when he was only a teenager.

His first company was an SAT prep company he started while in college.

Before his junior year at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Houston took a year off to work with a former high school teacher on a test prep company. The company’s goal was to help students get perfect scores on the SAT college admissions test.

After graduating, Houston hoped to get his SAT prep company into a startup accelerator — but was rejected.

Houston applied to get his startup into the first batch of Y Combinator companies in 2005.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Dropbox shows its freemium model works — 11 million users and 300,000 business teams are paying for its service

Dropbox shows its freemium model works — 11 million users and 300,000 business teams are paying for its service

  • Dropbox on Friday released the paperwork it filed to go public, offering new details on its business. 
  • The company reported it has 11 million paying users.
  • Although Dropbox was late to pursue the enterprise market, it now has 300,000 business teams paying to use its service.
  • The customer figures give a better picture of how Dropbox compares with Box, which, unlike Dropbox, focuses solely on enterprise customers. 

Dropbox became popular by offering consumers free storage space in the cloud.

But many analysts, investors and other observers have long wondered how much success it would have charging customers — particular businesses — for its service.

On Friday, they got an answer: Dropbox is doing a pretty good job convincing people to pay for cloud storage.

The company has 11 million paying users, 30% of whom are accessing its service on a plan funded by their employer, Dropbox said Friday in its S-1, the regulatory document companies file in advance of their first public stock offering. The company also reported that more than 300,000 business teams were paying to use its service as of the end of last year.

About 50% of the company’s paying users access its service through an individual plan.

“Our customers include individuals, teams, and organizations of all sizes, from freelancers and small businesses to Fortune 100 companies,” Dropbox said in its filing. “Within companies, our platform is used by all types of teams and functions, including sales, marketing, product, design, engineering, finance, legal, and human resources.”

All those paying customers added up to considerable revenue for the company. Dropbox posted $1.1 billion in sales in 2017. It recorded a $111 million loss for the year. 

Dropbox’s numbers compare favorably with Box, which is also in the cloud storage business. Box, which has had several difficult quarters since going public in 2015, is expected to report a loss of about $163 million on $506 million is sales for its fiscal year that ended January 31. The company said last May it had 74,000 paying customers — a figure best compared to Dropbox’s 300,000 paying business teams. 

Unlike Dropbox, Box exclusively serves enterprise and government customers, which are subject to extra regulatory scrutiny and require high-levels of security. While it trails Dropbox in total customers, the types of clients it attracts are generally considered to be more desirable and lucrative.

That’s also the market Dropbox most needs to make headway in to stay financially afloat for the longterm, analysts have told Business Insider.

SEE ALSO: Dropbox needs to find a new ‘ethos’ for an IPO home run — here’s how analysts think it could succeed

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Paper is Dropbox’s attempt to dethrone Google Docs

Paper is Dropbox’s attempt to dethrone Google Docs

Dropbox is getting into the online document editing game with a new product called Paper.

Going after the Google Drive and Office 356 crowd, paper is a web-only document editing app that lets you collaborate with multiple users. The new program is an expansion of the Notes sharing app the cloud-storage company began quietly testing earlier this year.

In an interview with Engadget, product manager Matteus Pan explained that Paper does a better job of bringing different types of content and files together.

For example, if you were to start typing program code into a document, Paper would automatically arrange it into the proper formatting. Beyond text, users can insert images, code, tables and even to-do lists complete with “@” mentions to identify who is in charge of completing a certain task.

Likewise, URLs pasted in documents transform into small previews, and same goes for Excel spreadsheets or PowerPoint presentations, as well as Google Doc files. Paper seems to be a bit more flexible then the strict delineation between files versus documents found in Google Drive, likely due to Dropbox’s years of experience with storing hordes of digital content.

As with other collaborative programs, users will be able to comment you can comment anywhere in the document using text or custom stickers. Of course, users will also be able to create their own private documents and everything is rolled into an easy to search directory.

For now, Paper is still in a beta phase and Dropbox giving out access on a per-invite basis. The company’s plan is to fine tune the Paper with a focus group consisting of thousands of individual users as well as business and teams before releasing a final version, which will also come with a smartphone app.