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Dropbox Founder Wants To Build the Next Google 165

ColdWetDog writes "The Dropbox file storage and synchronization service has managed to attract 50 million users and $250 million in venture capital. The founder of Dropbox, Drew Houston, says he is determined to build the next Google or Apple, not to sell out to them. Even for a guy whose paper valuation is around $600 million, it seems like the best he could hope for is another Facebook-level company — file storage isn't that sexy. I wish him luck in his bid to remain independent. I'd rather see Dropbox remain fairly agnostic with regard to other Internet services."
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Dropbox Founder Wants To Build the Next Google

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  • Tough sell (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bonch ( 38532 ) * on Saturday January 14, 2012 @08:13PM (#38701944)

    Dropbox has figured out an elegant solution to a vexing problem. With the explosion of smartphones and tablets, people have more devices and more apps than ever before. How can they get access to the latest version of all their stuff — photos, music, videos, documents, spreadsheets — no matter what device they are using and no matter where they are?

    Apple addressed this with the free iCloud, Google of course has its own cloud storage services, and even Microsoft has the free SkyDrive, so I'm confused as to why the article considers this a vexing problem waiting to be solved when it was pretty much the theme of 2011 for all the major platform vendors. Lots of venture capital doesn't mean something is going to take off--the lesson last year was the Color app, which got $41 million of first-round funding [] in March only to immediately flop on release [] months later.

    • Re:Tough sell (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tidepool ( 137349 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @08:19PM (#38701990)

      They are all, somewhat, 'tied' to a company and a product line. Sure, many things are cross platform, but I'm sure to get complete smooth functionality, you should be using the respective product line.

      A 3rd party that could make *everything* sync up, without any snafu's, and offer a solid consistent UI on any device, would easily be the best solution.

      Storage and, more important, remote access, is at the tip of the ice-burg at the moment. I can't imagine where it will go from here, but it'll move and fast.

      • by bonch ( 38532 ) *

        It is true that they are tied their individual platforms, but that could also be considered their primary advantage over DropBox. Everyone who buys an iPad automatically benefits from iCloud integration, for example.

        • Re:Tough sell (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @08:29PM (#38702068) Homepage

          It is true that they are tied their individual platforms, but that could also be considered their primary advantage over DropBox. Everyone who buys an iPad automatically benefits from iCloud integration, for example.

          I don't want it tied to Apple's limited world view of what is good or bad. I don't want it tied to Microsoft's bizarre implementations. I don't want it tied to Google's manifold desire to sick advertisers on me.

          I just want it to work. On OS X at home. On Windows at work. On Linux, BeOS, CP/M (well, I give that a pass) or whatever. The vendors all have an agenda which, so far, hasn't jibed well with mine.

          • Re:Tough sell (Score:4, Insightful)

            by bonch ( 38532 ) * on Saturday January 14, 2012 @08:34PM (#38702124)

            But DropBox has an agenda too--they want to be the next Google. That means your files and information will become a product for the real customers: advertisers. You can never escape an agenda, and if the effort to avoid that agenda outweighs the convenience the agenda provides for you, then you're acting counterproductively against yourself.

            • by Surt ( 22457 )

              You can't escape an agenda, but a company could be run that sold services directly to customers, with a contract forbidding advertising / any sale of personal data. Their agenda could be to make money by selling you a service and not selling you out.

              I think when someone builds the next facebook and offers an ironclad contract forbidding any sale of personal data, I'd probably be willing to pay $5 or so per month for the service.

              • I think when someone builds the next facebook and offers an ironclad contract forbidding any sale of personal data, I'd probably be willing to pay $5 or so per month for the service.

                Indeed - I'd pay to not have my data pimped around. I don't know what vendors' single-minded fixation with free+advertising is all about.

                • Re:Tough sell (Score:4, Interesting)

                  by Riceballsan ( 816702 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @09:17PM (#38702438)
                  why vendors obsession is in it is obvious. for every person like you who would rather give money than information, there are roughly 1,000 people who would gladly let everything about themselves leak out to the public rather then spend $5 a year. Every privacy fiasco done on facebook/google or any other site has had little to no impact on the number of people subscribing, and usually loses less than 1% of the current subscribers even for the big issues. Now look at how many people went into an extreme panic when the fake rumors of facebook charging money sent all of it's users into a mass panic. I would bet that if facebook charged say 15 a year, within 3 months they would become myspace and G+ would become facebook.
                • Because most of the internet wants free stuff. Sure, there is a small subset of the population who /really/ wants something enough they'd pay for it, but for the majority of people on the internet, free works.

                  Most people simply will not pay, they will go to a free site. The average internet user doesn't care about the advertisements, after all, that's what adblocking and hosts files are for.
              • Re:Tough sell (Score:5, Informative)

                by icebike ( 68054 ) * on Saturday January 14, 2012 @10:04PM (#38702744)

                You can't escape an agenda, but a company could be run that sold services directly to customers, with a contract forbidding advertising / any sale of personal data. Their agenda could be to make money by selling you a service and not selling you out.

                Actually if the idea is to make money directly from its users, that's fine and dandy. Beyond that, any plans to sell my data or even the fact that that I have data is out of the box a non-starter for me.

                The fact that Drop Box can break the encryption any time they want/need is pretty much a non-starter as far as I am concerned. The fact that they lied about it initially is another black mark. At least Google tells you right up front exactly what they can and will do with the content of your email.

                SpiderOak [] promotes zero knowledge storage. They have no way to break the encryption and couldn't do so in response to a subpoena if they wanted to. Windows, Mac, Android, Linux. And their fees are half of what Drop Box wants. In addition it can keep iterations of your data if you wish, so you can roll back those changes in your spread sheet one by one.

                I just don't see what Drop Box has to offer in regard the topic of this post, Without breaking its basic promise to keep your data private, they have nothing to sell other than space. You won't get to be of Apple's size or Google's omnipresence just supplying disk space that can be had by government agencies without even going for a warrant.

                If they want to convince me, change their system to a zero knowledge system in which they can't hand over the keys to anyone because they don't have them. They need to pick up the tab from the mobile carriers for data syncing mobile devices. Trying to build a cloud storage empire that gets shared with police is not likely to be all that successful in the age of data caps.

                • Try the free open-source SparkleShare software and roll your your own cloud 100%. That would trump any cloud provider option if this is your concern, since all the disks and PCs are under your ownership and control. (Although you are correct in your technical arguments, for sure. I also like SpiderOak.)

                  SparkleShare is essentially a DropBox clone in terms of a GUI, which extends to recovering older versions with a right-click. It looks like DropBox, and it works like DropBox too. But it is just a scripted GI

                  • by SpzToid ( 869795 )

                    This is a corrected section of text, just to be clear. The last line has been corrected.

                    ...Normally, you might use something like the following commands to work with GIT. (these are not necessary if you use SparkleShare)

                    git clone ssh://
                    cd NEWREPOSITORY.git
                    git pull -v

              • Wouldn't Apple be the least likely to sell your data? I mean, they've GOT what they want: you on their platform. They don't need to sell your data to anyone—frankly, it probably runs counter to their own interests if they do. If you've already bought into their platform, they'll try to treat you well so you don't jump ship to some other platform, and that's it. Google and Dropbox don't have any other way to monetize you than to blitz you with ads or sell your data because they've got nothing else to s

            • Re:Tough sell (Score:4, Interesting)

              by vakuona ( 788200 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @10:37PM (#38702934)

              I don't think that's what the founder meant when he said he wants to be the next Google. It looks like he means to establish a successful company that stands alone, rather than selling out to the highest bidder.

              However, I think they do have a tough sell. As Steve Jobs put it, they don't have a product, they have a feature. Once could storage is built into every device you can buy, and that storage is not drop box, they cease to be relevant.

          • MS supports OSX and Windows with their syncing app. Asking vendors to support operating systems that have basically 0 market penetration like BeOS or CP/M is not only unreasonable, it's ludicrous. Why on earth would you want someone to waste programming cycles natively supporting an OS with 0 userbase vs. patching/adding functionality to the application for OS's people actually USE???
            • That's the point of using open protocols. The service should not support the operating system, the service provider and the operating system provider should both support the same protocol. For example, if you have a WebDAV server running somewhere then pretty much any modern operating system can mount it.
              • So you haven't actually used any of the services then? Because they pretty much all have an API for third party programmers to program to. It generally helps to know SOMETHING about the product before you bitch about features you THINK it doesn't have.
                • That's not the same as supporting an open protocol. That means you need to write a client for every {service, platform} pair. With an open protocol, you need to write one client per platform. Before you make snarky comments, it generally helps if you know what you're talking about.
          • I just want it to work. On OS X at home. On Windows at work. On Linux, BeOS, CP/M (well, I give that a pass) or whatever. The vendors all have an agenda which, so far, hasn't jibed well with mine.

            Have a look at Ubuntu One []. It still (yet) lacks OS X support, yes, but Canonical's agenda looks much better to me than Apple's or Google's.

        • Also a valid viewpoint. But, I imagine, unless you are someone who ONLY buys apple products (we know who we mean); Or only google products, etc it's still going to leave someone hanging.

          Decentralized storage isn't so much about the storage, as it the universal aspect of connectivity: From any device, to any device, with zero 'hacks' to make it work. The general consumer wants it to 'just work', regardless of device. (To be truthful, so do all people, geeks and hackers alike; we're just willing to do somethi

      • Yep and they have nice things like the ability to set limits on the sync, drop and forget syncing (I think iCloud has that too though I don't think google has (skyDrive?)).

        Future: media sharing perhaps? I seem to recall a article somewhere talking about how their software is very efficient in the backend, built their own storage jbods, lots of deduplication etc. Say they can get an agreement to become a digital library for ebooks and music. Might be tough with Apple and Amazon in the mix but if they could g

    • Re:Tough sell (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @08:29PM (#38702072) Homepage

      Yep. The barrier to entry for "dropbox" type applications is very low.

      I have zero emotional investment in Dropbox. All the files in my dropbox folder are on my own hard disk. If a competitor offered me more disk space or whatever I could switch over in minutes.

      • "I have zero emotional investment in Dropbox."

        That ranks among the things that makes a rational man ask, "WTF?"

        Alright, so maybe you would care to list some of the things that you do have an "emotional investment" in?

        • Plenty of stuff I'd imagine. Slashdot's full of fanboys debating why the console they bought is the best, most people stick to one vendor for OS and cars, because their products feel right.
    • Re:Tough sell (Score:5, Informative)

      by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @08:43PM (#38702202)
      Dropbox just resells Amazon's S3 storage service []. They have a slicker interface, but the heavy lifting is all done by Amazon.
      • Re:Tough sell (Score:5, Interesting)

        by turbidostato ( 878842 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @08:50PM (#38702244)

        "Dropbox just resells Amazon's S3 storage service. They have a slicker interface, but the heavy lifting is all done by Amazon."

        Which is a very clever side of the Amazon's bussiness case.

        Amazon surely bills a little bazillion to the likes of Dropbox or Netflix, so as long as the "new thing" happens to deal with them, the more successful they are, the more money ends up in Amazon's accounts.

        But then, for each Netflix there are a thousand of wannabies that all will do is losing their shirts -but even them will move part of their money to Amazon's accounts.

        So the end result is that Amazon wins always without taking the risks.

        Very clever indeed.

        • Re:Tough sell (Score:5, Insightful)

          by TooMuchToDo ( 882796 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @10:37PM (#38702938)

          This is nothing new. You know who got rich during the Western US gold rush? Those who sold the tools, not those prospecting.

          • That's not quite the same. The tool sellers had a little risk, but not a huge return. You can sell spades to 1,000 prospectors, but the one who strikes gold will probably make a lot more than you. In contrast, users of Amazon's S3 pay Amazon more the more that they scale up. Amazon is not selling them something at a fixed price, it is selling them a service that takes some percentage of their income. If an S3 customer becomes successful and their revenue goes from $1,000 to $1,000,000 then Amazon's in
    • Re:Tough sell (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Columcille ( 88542 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @09:53PM (#38702682) Homepage
      iCloud != Dropbox. Apple was a lot closer with iDisk, though that was not as efficient and elegant as Dropbox. iCloud does not offer a solution anything like Dropbox.
  • by decora ( 1710862 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @08:18PM (#38701984) Journal

    having spiders crawling over the private data of tens of millions of people could be incredibly lucrative. not only to sell to businesses, but to sell to the various governments of the world who are interested in spying on people. every year the governments of earth spend billions collecting and gathering data on people to analyze 'security threats'.

    now, that data is being collected for them. facebook is a good start, but it's mostly just trivial personal stuff. here, at a file storage site, we have the big fish. spreadsheets from companies, investigation reports from corporate analysts, stock trading information, debt trading information, etc etc etc.

  • by finkployd ( 12902 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @08:19PM (#38701994) Homepage

    SpiderOak is a heck of a lot better (and unlike dropbox is actually secure). Of course with additional features it is a little more complex but that can be easily solved in time.

    • Why is at a 'heck of a lot better'? (Curious as to your thinking). From a brief perusal of the site, it seems to be similar to Dropbox albeit with end to end encryption. That's nice - I get around that by storing the data that I think needs to be encrypted in password protected sparsebundles (on OS X). Seems to work just fine. Much of the stuff I have on Dropbox could be shared openly on the Internet with the only downsides of confusing a whole bunch of people.

      • by finkployd ( 12902 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @08:47PM (#38702232) Homepage

        Much more flexibility regarding what is synced (I don't need a dropbox directory, I can pick and choose directories or even individual files on each machine to be synced).
        Your solution to security is fine, except I want to be able to access my data on windows, linux, osx, android, and ios. It is also just easier to know everything is encrypted rather than needing to mentally track what should be as well as have to worry about opening sparsebundles (or opening truecrypt volumes, etc).

        • Thanks. Interesting. That would allow me to look at the sensitive data on Windows if I needed to.

    • by swalve ( 1980968 )
      Honest question: what is insecure about Dropbox?
      • by finkployd ( 12902 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @09:43PM (#38702614) Homepage

        They don't use client side encryption, and can decrypt your data on their side if they so choose. Almost a year or so ago, they had a couple of hours where (due to a botched code deployment on their side) anyone could log into any dropbox account using any password. The fact that they CAN decrypt your data (in addition to apparently having very bad testing procedures internally) means that someday they may decide to follow Google and Facebook's model and troll it for information for targeted advertising, selling to whomever, etc.

        They claim their employees need to be able to have access to your unencrypted data to comply with government regulations but this does not pass the smell test at all. SpiderOak and Wuala both use client side encryption and do not have access to your data.

        • Ok, so the reason Dropbox doesn't do encryption? It would break their model. They leverage the fact that they only need to store a file once across their entire platform (AWS S3), but can "charge" multiple people for that space utilization. Encryption would break this de-duplication ability, and hence cost Dropbox more money in S3 storage costs.

          • I would understand that better if Dropbox were not twice as expensive as other comprable services that DO client side encryption.

            • It's the S3. Other people setup there own storage and data centers, whereas Dropbox is always reselling Amazon.

              • THIS. Backblaze? Their own datacenter (well, a datacenter in SF where they built their own gear). SpiderOak (and Nimbus.Io, a subsidiary about to do S3-style storage with higher latency but to be used for archival purposes)? Their own datacenter. Apple? Google? Of course, their own datacenters.

                S3 is GREAT to prototype your concept. But once you start to actually *use* it and scale out wildly? Not so much (from a cost perspective; from the tech side, it works very well).

        • Wuala both use client side encryption and do not have access to your data.

          Wuala warns you (or did in some version of the T&C) that law enforcement agencies might force them to deploy a client update to you to turn off (or compromise otherwise) encryption. I guess there's no 100% safe haven in this area, unless you use an open source client without automatic updates ...

          • That kinda sucks. Still happier with SpiderOak it seems.

            • From SpiderOak privacy policy []:

              We will disclose your Personally-Identifiable Data if we reasonably believe we are required to do so by law, regulation or other government authority [...]

              From SpiderOak Service Agreement []:

              You may use the Services only for lawful purposes and solely in accordance with this Agreement and any other specific terms of use, rules or policies, as may be provided by SpiderOak from time to time, that may be applicable to any particular portion of the Services. You may not store, transmit or share through the Services any material, or otherwise engage in any conduct that: violates or infringes the rights of others, including without limitation patent, trademark, trade secret, copyright, publicity or other proprietary rights; involves uploading, posting, emailing, transmitting or otherwise making available Selected Data that you do not have the right to make available under any law or under contractual or fiduciary relationships (such as insider information, proprietary and confidential information learned or disclosed as part of employment relationships or under non-disclosure agreements, etc.); [... and a lot more stuff ... ]

              Question: if they are truly "zero knowledge" [], why would they care? They cannot identify infringing data anyway, if it's true. Furthermore, we know that being in the US, they will have to comply with government requests to access your data and they are not allowed to tell you []. Also, while IANAL, their terms offer many loopholes, such as the possibility to employ (very) weak encryption in cases where some 3rd party desires access to your data. The

    • I've tried SpiderOak a couple of times because the client-side encryption is a massive selling feature.

      However, the interface is convoluted, to say the least. It's frustrating to have this massively complicated application to just synchronize a directory, when Dropbox, for the most part, doesn't have an interface at all. I want to point SpiderOak at a directory and forget about it. Unfortunately, I can't. And after several weeks of worry (and several lost files), I always end up back at Dropbox.

      • I didn't have that experience at all, it was just pointing it to a directory (or four) to back up and forget about it. Where it gets complicated is syncing across machines since ou basically have to define a link (this directory on machine A links to this directory on machine B). Without doing that you are just backing up to the cloud (which is also nice, as that is one of my primary uses of it and I didn't like that dropbox until recently forced you to have all files stored on all computers in your "cloud"

        • I think that's a great a feature though - if you use a couple of different machines with different platforms, being able to map what goes where would be super-handy.

    • by afabbro ( 33948 )

      SpiderOak is a heck of a lot better

      Where DB has pulled away from the pack is integration. Virtually every iOS app that supports cloud-based storage supports DB. Not nearly as many support SugarSync, Spideroak, etc. Phones are one example - there are certainly others.

    • I've been evaluating different secure backup and Sync and sharing options. I've been intrigued by SipderOak and Jungle Disk services. Have you and opinion about how they compare?

  • I'm in. Go for it.
  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @08:29PM (#38702066) Homepage

    Almost as boring as Web searching, in fact.

    • by bonch ( 38532 ) *

      I don't really get that comparison. Search is far more sexy because it parses the content of the web and the information people are genuinely interested in.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 14, 2012 @08:53PM (#38702262)

    Tell that to the guy I just got done trying to help that lost 10 years worth of writing because he had never though to back it up ;)

  • Business model? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lazy Jones ( 8403 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @08:53PM (#38702264) Homepage Journal
    I'm a Wuala user myself, so perhaps I've overlooked something - but how does Dropbox hope to earn money? By selling additional disk space or turning the free accounts into paid ones once people begin to rely on them?
    • by swalve ( 1980968 )
      It looks like they are using the shareware model. Give the home user just enough (2gb, right?) to make it attractive, and they are in the door. Offer higher priced services for the business user. Its pricing looks to be a slam dunk for the small business who needs more than a USB drive hanging off of a desktop, but can't afford to develop an in-house solution. You can have 2tb of space for 10 users for $1350 a year. Always backed up, version controlled, available anywhere. Very difficult to get even c
      • Only 4% of Dropbox users pay for their service, and Dropbox is already highly profitable. I would take that almost as a guarantee that storage prices for Dropbox-like services will be driven down if they're *that* profitable with so few paying clients.

        • by swalve ( 1980968 )
          And checking Amazon's S3 pricing shows that it seems to be impossible for them to make money if they are using S3 for backend. How the hell are they doing it?
          • Deduplication and chunking. They break files into 2MB chunks and then shove those chunks into S3. How many unique chunks does it take to represent all of the data they're syncing? Not sure, but the math shouldn't be too hard to do if so inclined.

            Example: Grab a very popular torrented file; throw it in your Dropbox directory (make sure its a big file, 500MB+). Watch how it goes from hashing to synced in under 5-10 seconds. Dropbox hashed it, notes it already has a copy, and tells your box not to sync it up (

            • by kcitren ( 72383 )

              How many unique chunks does it take to represent all of the data they're syncing

              2MB = ~ 2^2048000 possibly combinations, which is a pretty huge fucking number of unique chunks.

            • by amaiman ( 103647 )
              They removed that feature quite a while ago (the 5-10 second "upload" because the file hash matched another user)...People found a way to game the system to get files they didn't already have (by just distributing the hashes for popular files), so Dropbox disabled the feature (they promised it would return, but it never did and they no longer answer support questions about it). They still do de-duplication internally, though, so that's how they can afford the storage; there's just no benefit for the end-u
              • My understanding was that they still did only hashing if they had the file already, and would pick random bytes of the file to hash to ensure it *really* was the file they have in their backend storage. I'll have to test tonight with a download.

                • by amaiman ( 103647 )

                  My understanding was that they still did only hashing if they had the file already, and would pick random bytes of the file to hash to ensure it *really* was the file they have in their backend storage. I'll have to test tonight with a download.

                  It will still do the upload de-dupe within your own account. So if you upload a file, and then rename it and upload another copy, that will still happen mostly instantly. If you're going to test it out, make sure to use two separate Dropbox accounts.

            • by swalve ( 1980968 )
              I am surprised there is that much duplication out there!
    • Never heard of Wuala before, thanks.

      I am incredibly amused by the fact that the introductory video shows backup to the Wuala servers and Wuala cloud as if they are two separate places, and storing in both places is what makes the storage redundant. :c)

    • by am 2k ( 217885 )

      I'm a Wuala user myself, so perhaps I've overlooked something - but how does Dropbox hope to earn money? By selling additional disk space or turning the free accounts into paid ones once people begin to rely on them?

      As far as I've heard, they're already in the black by selling additional disk space.

  • Great idea! I want to build the next Google, too!

  • I just wanna be able to log into my Dropbox from a browser on whatever random PC is available (usually one at work), edit my plain-text files from within the browser, and be done. None of this having to download them, edit them, and upload them again goofiness.

    Why is this so easy for others (eg. Google Docs) but Dropbox can't pull it off?

    Other than this glaring annoyance, I do enjoy Dropbox's convenience. Mostly.

  • by jsepeta ( 412566 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @12:44AM (#38703526) Homepage

    Any journalist worth his salt would have immediately responded to Mr. Houston, "If you want to be big like Google, you can't leave all your users' files unprotected for a day because one of your staff turned off the passwords."

    If you want to play with the big boys, you need to wear big boy pants.

  • Since they had the epic failure of producing something even less secure than the FTP of twenty years ago I really hope they don't pollute any more of the net until they get their act together. There's plenty of other solutions that actually work but spent their money on function instead of an massive and expensive PR blitz to sell a product that is, to be quite frank, very well polished shit. It's only that polish that gives them a service better than any ISP on the planet can provide.
    So here's my advice,
  • Admittedly I've never used the product because I have multiple, free 8GB email accounts and I just right-click and choose "encrypt and email" from the drop-down list. But I*1 can't see how they can make real money - seems like they'd need a much larger percentage of paying users, and even then the margins look small.

    Mostly I'd be thinking the business would die overnight if a certain large platform agnostic company offered a free version. Or do they have some strategy stronger than public relations (like p

  • > file storage isn't that sexy.

    That is one of the biggest misconceptions i heard. Providing completely scalable, secure, transparently controlled, distributed, flexibly archived, fast, and reliable file storage in a *cheap* via the net *is sexy*.

    However, i think it will be implemented by others and there will be a lot of competition.

  • Another example of Greed.

    Dropbox is doing well, really well. I'm sure most of use would be more then happy to start something up that has a paper value of $600 Million.

    But no, that isn't good enough, I need to be like google.

    What happened to the days of finding a niche, making some decent money and being happy? A profit is a profit. You don't get a better spot in the afterlife because you have billions of dollars instead of millions of dollars.

    I watch Treasure Island remake the other day, and it got me

  • ...might do well. Something like "In the event we sell out to a larger firm, we will so advise you and give you the opportunity to destroy your data before any external party can access it; we will resist all government intrusion to the limits of the law; we will forbid even our investors from accessing your data; we will never sell your name or your data - any of your personal information - to a third party; we will ask you before we solicit your interest in other products we may offer in the future; we w
  • file storage isn't that sexy.

    Neither is search - before Google made it. MP3 players were a niche market until Apple made it sexy.

    Don't think "file storage" - think what you can do with it. I can, for example, envision a very nice web-app like business model where you store HTML5 apps in the Dropbox cloud and can, with the click of a button, make a personal copy and execute that, with storage and all in a nice bundle. Something like that would eat the cake of the flash games sites and many others.

  • Drew Huston wants his service to become the Internet's file system. What would that look like? A lot of the features you'd want are already in Dropbox: cloud storage, privacy (at least from other users), 30-day versioning, and de-duplication. What's missing are APIs to get to your content without the clumsy requirement to sync locally first. That'd be something.

  • to stay a private company. If you capitalize through an IPO or become public in some other (there are obscure ways to do this) fashion, you're unlikely to retain your values for long.

    You actually become legally beholden to maximizing shareholder value. You really can be criminally prosecuted for not doing something unethical that would have generated relatively substantial revenue.

    Taking your company to an IPO *is* selling out.

  • I've been testing out Insynch ( which uses Google Docs as your data store. $5 will get you 20gb of storage from Google a year. It works pretty much like Dropbox, and can sign into multiple Google accounts at the same time. Linux client is supposed to be released soon, and as soon as it is I'll be recommending Insynch to people over Dropbox. There is also the rumored Google Drive, which if it ever comes to fruition will eat Dropbox's lunch.

This process can check if this value is zero, and if it is, it does something child-like. -- Forbes Burkowski, CS 454, University of Washington