Dropbox: The Founder

A colleague (thanks Craig C.!) recently sent me a link to a Forbes article (10/18/2011) about Drew Houston, founder of Dropbox. (Disclaimer: Craig swears he doesn’t usually read Forbes; he was in the waiting room of his dentist’s office.)

At a recent presentation before 100-or-so psychologists (educators, researchers, and practitioners), I asked how many used Dropbox. About 90% of the hands went up. I confess I was surprised at the number. But in case anyone had any doubts about the widespread use of Dropbox, read this excerpt from the Forbes article:

The opportunity in front of Drew Houston revealed itself again a few months ago during a booze-fueled lunch at VC Ron Conway’s Belvedere, Calif. bayside villa. As Houston carefully explained what Dropbox did, he was cut off in the exact way that Steve Jobs had so many years ago: “I know, I use it all the time.” Rather than a tech CEO, his drinking buddy was rapper Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas, who told Houston he used Dropbox to collaborate with producer David Guetta on the hit “I Got A Feeling.”

Such tipping point anecdotes now pour in. After his laptop crashed during final exams one law student wrote in: ”Without Dropbox I would have failed out of law school and be living under a bridge.” A watch design firm just outside of Venice, Italian Soul, uses Dropbox to create new pieces with a designer in Mendoza, Argentina, the hulking 3-D files living painlessly in the cloud. Haitian relief workers kept up-to-date records of the deceased and shared those names with Miami and other cities. Professional sports teams inventory videos of opponents’ plays, accessible wherever the team is playing. 

While others are nipping at Dropbox’s heels, e.g., Box.net, iCloud, and Drive (a promised product from Google), Dropbox has quite a head start. As of this writing it has 50 million users. And new users are joining at the rate of about 1 per second.

What is Dropbox doing to keep the hounds at bay? “Houston must combat a MySpace-like implosion by spending a lot of his war chest on ubiquity. He’s protecting his flank against Google via a new deal with phonemaker HTC, which will make Dropbox the default cloud storage option on every one of its Android phones. Deals with six other phone firms are almost inked; PC and television makers are next. Houston has hired a team to tailor Dropbox to businesses. A couple hundred outside developers are making apps for Dropbox.”

Keep an eye on Dropbox. If you’re one of those 50 million users, how has it changed how you work? Not a member of Dropbox yet? Now’s a good time to join.


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