After Dabbling for Two Years, Dropbox Commits to Enterprise

After Dabbling for Two Years, Dropbox Commits to Enterprise

(Bloomberg) -- After having one foot in consumer technology and one in the corporate world, Dropbox Inc. is now all in on enterprise software.  

What began in 2007 as a website to store a few personal files and photos, turned into a cloud service that some employees used of their own volition. Now the goal is to have Dropbox be the default file storage and project-management service for all staff at companies.

"It's a complete re-imagining of the Dropbox -- a massive level Dropbox that everyone in the company can access, all the historical archives," Chief Technology Officer Aditya Agarwal said.

Dropbox wants companies to replace hardware called file servers, which they typically use to store and share information and run databases. Dropbox is also targeting Microsoft Corp.'s SharePoint, popular software that runs a lot of this activity right now, said Chief Operating Officer Dennis Woodside.

The change comes two years into a Dropbox plan to boost sales by remaking itself as a seller of software to business users rather than consumers. It's a more lucrative market, but there are more competitors, including Box Inc., Microsoft and Alphabet Inc.

The new market Dropbox is pursuing -- corporate file servers and SharePoint software -- is worth $10 billion a year, Woodside estimated. IDC expects Dropbox's current market to reach $3.7 billion this year.

While Dropbox already has more than 200,000 paying teams using its services inside companies, this latest change is significant, said Cheryl McKinnon, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc.

"They haven’t really put their foot down before and said 'enterprise is my focus' and then made the investments behind that," she said.Dropbox, based in San Francisco, has faced questions over whether it’s worth the $10 billion valuation it was awarded in a 2014 funding round. Last year, it met with advisers to discuss a possible 2017 initial public offering, according to people familiar with the situation. Chief Executive Officer Drew Houston said in June the company was free-cash-flow positive. 

Dropbox has passed $1 billion in annualized revenue, Houston said at an event in San Francisco on Monday.

The company-wide Dropbox offering relies on two features. SmartSync lets users access terabytes of data without downloading it, so the information can be viewed on laptops with limited memory. The second, folders for teams, can be used across whole companies now.Employees currently have their files in Dropbox, but also stored on their companies' physical servers on premise, Houston said, adding "this makes no sense."

Dropbox is also going after the market for work collaboration and communication software, where Slack Technologies Inc. and Atlassian Corp. thrive. Dropbox released its Paper collaboration service in 21 languages on Monday, and it's testing new features, like the ability to organize Paper by projects and more easily assign tasks to team members and set due dates. 

"We want teams to be able to start a project, manage a project and deliver a project all on Dropbox," said Woodside. "All the collaboration activity that goes on to produce an excellent marketing campaign or an excellent design for a building, we think that can happen in Dropbox. Now a lot of collaboration happens in e-mail or in tools like Slack, but we feel Dropbox can be a better way to go in a lot of scenarios."

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