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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 [venturebeat.com] in March only to immediately flop on release [reuters.com] 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.

  • 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: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.

  • 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.

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

    by PCM2 ( 4486 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @08:51PM (#38702250) Homepage

    Dropbox has been around for years thats why...noob

    So has WinZip.

  • 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 ;)

  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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.

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

    by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @10:45AM (#38705492) Journal

    In the '90s, every Windows user installed WinZIP (a few even paid for it!). Everyone distributed zip files and WinZIP was the tool for opening and creating them. It wasn't a sexy market, but it was a solution to a problem that a lot of people had, and it was the tool that everyone used (except warez d00dz, who preferred rar). The, Windows came with the ability to explore zip files as if they were normal folders. The need for WinZIP dropped from almost everyone to practically no one overnight. The same thing happened on the Mac with StuffIt - OS X can natively open a variety of archive formats, so there is no need for a third-party tool.

    Fast forward a decade, and DropBox is in the same position in the cloud storage market that WinZIP occupied in its own market. Everyone who needs to share a couple of files with a friend or colleague uses it. But now operating systems and other services are coming with some cloud storage, so there's less need for a third-party service.

  • Re:Tough sell (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ooki ( 1576979 ) on Monday January 16, 2012 @05:02AM (#38711616)
    The nice thing (tm) with dropbox is that it is OS agnostic. I can have my files synchronized on all of my platforms - easy. With me being on *nix/win/android/mac platforms (at work/uni/home) it really pays of that dropbox is not requiring me to stay on one OS at all. To make the case with WinZip, if the included zip extractor found in the operating systems where so that you could only open "windows zips" on windows, and so on. Then WinZip would still be in great shape!

To be a kind of moral Unix, he touched the hem of Nature's shift. -- Shelley