Dropbox

Dropbox relaunches as an enterprise collaboration workspace

Posted by | Apps, Dropbox, Enterprise, Mobile, Social, TC | No Comments

Dropbox is evolving from a file-storage system to an enterprise software portal, where you can coordinate work with your team. Today the company launches a new version of Dropbox that allows you to launch apps with shortcuts for G Suite and more, plus use built-in Slack message-sending and Zoom video calls. It lets you search across all your files on your device and inside your other enterprise tools, and communicate and comment on your team’s work. Dropbox is also becoming a task manager, with the ability to add notes and tag co-workers in to-do lists attached to files.

The new Dropbox launches today for all of its 13 million business users across 400,000 teams plus its consumer tiers. Users can opt-in here for early access and businesses can turn on early access in their admin panel. “The way we work is broken,” CEO Drew Houston said to cue up the company’s mission statement: “to design a more enlightened way of working.”

Dropbox seems to have realized that file storage by itself is a dying business. With storage prices dropping and any app being able to add their own storage system, it needed to move up the enterprise stack and become a portal that opens and organizes your other tools. Becoming the enterprise coordination layer is a smart strategy, and one that it seems Slack was happy to partner into rather than building itself.

As part of the update, Dropbox is launching a new desktop app for all users so it won’t have to live inside your Mac or Windows file system. When you click a file, you can see a preview and presence data about who has viewed it, who is currently and who has access.

The launch includes deep integrations with Slack, so you can comment on files from within Dropbox, and Zoom, so you can video chat without leaving the workspace. Web and enterprise app shortcuts relieve you from keeping all your other tools constantly open in other tabs. Dropbox’s revamped search tool lets you crawl across your computer’s file system and all your cloud storage across other productivity apps.

But what’s most important about today’s changes is that Dropbox is becoming a task-management app. Each file lets you type out descriptions, to-do lists and tag co-workers to assign them tasks. An Activity Feed per file shows comments and actions from co-workers so you don’t have to collaborate in a separate Google Doc or Slack channel.

When asked about how Dropbox decided who to partner with (Slack, Zoom) versus who to copy (Asana), VP of biz dev Billy Blau essentially dodged the question while citing the “shared ethos” of Dropbox’s partners.

Houston kicked off the San Francisco launch event by pointing out that it’s easier to find info from the public than our own company’s knowledge that’s scattered across our computers and the cloud. The “Finder” on our computers hasn’t evolved to embrace a post-download era. He described how people spend 60% of our office time on work about work, like organization and communication, instead of actually working — a marketing angle frequently used by task-management startup Asana that Dropbox is now competing with more directly. “We’re going to help you get a handle on all this ‘work about work,’ ” Dropbox writes. Yet Asana has been using that phrase as a core of its messaging since 2013.

Now Dropbox wants to be your file tree, your finder and your desktop for the cloud. The question is whether files are always the central unit of work that comments and tasks should be pegged to, or whether it should be the task and project at the center of attention with files attached.

It will take some savvy onboarding and persistence to retrain teams to see Dropbox as their workspace instead of their computer’s desktop or their browser. But if it can become the identity and collaboration layer that connects the fragmented enterprise software, it could outlive file storage and stay relevant as new office tools emerge.

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The Freewrite Traveler offers distraction-free writing for the road

Posted by | cloud applications, computing, Dropbox, E Ink, Gadgets, indiegogo, Laptop, Software, TC, traveler, typewriter, word processor, writing | No Comments

If you’ve ever tried to write something long – a thesis, a book, or a manifesto outlining your disappointment in the modern technocracy and your plan to foment violent revolution – you know that distractions can slow you down or even stop the creative process. That’s why the folks at Astrohaus created the Freewrite, a distraction-free typewriter, and it’s always why they are launching the Traveler, a laptop-like word processor that’s designed for writing and nothing else.

The product, which I saw last week, consists of a hearty, full-sized keyboard and an E ink screen. There are multiple “documents” you can open and close and the system autosaves and syncs to services like Dropbox automatically. The laptop costs $279 on Indiegogo and will have a retail price of $599.

The goal of the Freewrite Traveler is to give you a place to write. You pull it out of your bag, open it, and start typing. That’s it. There are no Tweets, Facebook sharing systems, or games. It lasts for four weeks on one charge – a bold claim but not impossible – and there are some improvements to the editing functions including virtual arrow keys that let you move up and down in a document as you write. There are also hotkeys to bring up ancillary information like outlines, research, or notes.

If the Traveler is anything like the original Freewrite then you can expect some truly rugged hardware. I tested an early model and the entire thing was built like a tank or, more correctly, like a Leica. Because it is aimed at the artistic wanderer, the entire thing weighs two pounds and is about as big as the collected stories of Raymond Carver.

Is it for you? Well, if you liked the original Freewrite or even missed the bandwagon when it first launched, you might really enjoy the Traveler. Because it is small and light it could easily become a second writing device for your more creative work that you pull out in times of pensive creativity. It is not a true word processor replacement, however, and it is a “first-thought-best-thought” kind of tool, allowing you to get words down without much fuss. I wouldn’t recommend it for research-intensive writing but you could easily sketch out almost any kind of document on the Traveler and then edit it on a real laptop.

There aren’t many physical tools to support distraction-free writing. Some folks, myself included, have used the infamous AlphaSmart, a crazy old word processor used by students or simply set up laptops without a Wi-Fi connection. The Freewrite Traveler takes all of that to the next level by offering the simplest, clearest, and most distraction-free system available. Given it’s 50% off right now on Indiegogo it might be the right time to take the plunge.

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Dropbox is crashing despite beating Wall Street expectations, announces COO Dennis Woodside is leaving

Posted by | Dropbox, Earnings, Enterprise, Fundings & Exits, Mobile | No Comments

Back when Dennis Woodside joined Dropbox as its chief operating officer more than four years ago, the company was trying to justify the $10 billion valuation it had hit in its rapid rise as a Web 2.0 darling. Now, Dropbox is a public company with a nearly $14 billion valuation, and it once again showed Wall Street that it’s able to beat expectations with a now more robust enterprise business alongside its consumer roots.

Dropbox’s second quarter results came in ahead of Wall Street’s expectations on both the earnings and revenue front. The company also announced that Dennis Woodside will be leaving the company. Woodside joined at a time when Dropbox was starting to figure out its enterprise business, which it was able to grow and transform into a strong case for Wall Street that it could finally be a successful publicly traded company. The IPO was indeed successful, with the company’s shares soaring more than 40 percent in its debut, so it makes sense that Woodside has essentially accomplished his job by getting it into a business ready for Wall Street.

“I think as a team we accomplished a ton over the last four and a half years,” Woodside said in an interview. “When I joined they were a couple hundred million in revenue and a little under 500 people. [CEO] Drew [Houston] and Arash [Ferdowsi] have built a great business, since then we’ve scaled globally. Close to half our revenue is outside the U.S., we have well over 300,000 teams for our Dropbox business product, which was nascent there. These are accomplishments of the team, and I’m pretty proud.”

The stock initially exploded in extended trading by rising more than 7 percent, though even prior to the market close and the company reporting its earnings, the stock had risen as much as 10 percent. But following that spike, Dropbox shares are now down around 5 percent. Dropbox is one of a number of SaaS companies that have gone public in recent months, including DocuSign, that have seen considerable success. While Dropbox has managed to make its case with a strong enterprise business, the company was born with consumer roots and has tried to carry over that simplicity with the enterprise products it rolls out, like its collaboration tool Dropbox Paper.

Here’s a quick rundown of the numbers:

  • Q2 Revenue: Up 27 percent year-over-year to $339.2 million, compared to estimates of $331 million in revenue.
  • Q2 GAAP Gross Margin: 73.6 percent, as compared to 65.4 percent in the same period last year.
  • Q2 adjusted earnings: 11 cents per share compared, compared to estimates of 7 cents per share.
  • Paid users: 11.9 million paying users, up from 9.9 million in the same quarter last year.
  • ARPU: $116.66, compared to $111.19 same quarter last year.

So, not only is Dropbox able to show that it can continue to grow that revenue, the actual value of its users is also going up. That’s important, because Dropbox has to show that it can continue to acquire higher-value customers — meaning it’s gradually moving up the Fortune 100 chain and getting larger and more established companies on board that can offer it bigger and bigger contracts. It also gives it the room to make larger strategic moves, like migrating onto its own architecture late last year, which, in the long run could turn out to drastically improve the margins on its business.

“We did talk earlier in the quarter about our investment over the last couple years in SMR technology, an innovative storage technology that allows us to optimize cost and performance,” Woodside said. “We continue to innovate ways that allow us to drive better performance, and that drives better economics.”

The company is still looking to make significant moves in the form of new hires, including recently announcing that it has a new VP of product and VP of product marketing, Adam Nash and Naman Khan, respectively. Dropbox’s new team under CEO Drew Houston are tasked with continuing the company’s path to cracking into larger enterprises, which can give it a much more predictable and robust business alongside the average consumers that pay to host their files online and access them from pretty much anywhere.

In addition, there are a couple executive changes as Woodside transitions out. Yamini Rangan, currently VP of Business Strategy & Operations, will become Chief Customer Officer reporting to Houston, and comms VP Lin-Hua Wu will also report to Houston.

Dropbox had its first quarterly earnings check-in and slid past the expectations that Wall Street had, though its GAAP gross margin slipped a little bit and may have offered a slight negative signal for the company. But since then, Dropbox’s stock hasn’t had any major missteps, giving it more credibility on the public markets — and more resources to attract and retain talent with compensation packages linked to that stock.

“Our retention has been quite strong,” Woodside said. “We see strong retention characteristics across the customer set we have, whether it’s large or small. Obviously larger companies have more opportunity to expand over time, so our expansion metrics are quite strong in customers of over several hundred employees. But even among small businesses, Dropbox is the kind of product that has gravity. Once you start using it and start sharing it, it becomes a place where your business is small or large is managing all its content, it tends to be a sticky experience.”

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Dropbox hires a new VP of product and VP of product marketing

Posted by | Adam Nash, Dropbox, Enterprise, Mobile, Naman Khan, Personnel | No Comments

After a largely successful IPO, Dropbox is adding another couple of hires today as it looks to continue its consumer-slash-enterprise growth playbook: bringing on a new VP of product in former CEO and president of Wealthfront Adam Nash; and a new VP of product marketing and global campaigns in Naman Khan.

Both have extensive experience from products that span multiple different verticals, with Nash previously working at LinkedIn and eBay and Khan spending time with Microsoft Office and Autodesk. The company went public earlier this year to a pretty successful IPO, though the stock hasn’t seen any dramatic fireworks, and has accumulated more than 500 million registered users in its decade-plus life. But it’s also gone through a kind of transition as it starts expanding into more enterprise-focused collaboration tools as it looks to woo businesses, which represent a substantial opportunity for growth for the company that started off as a dead-simple file-sharing service.

Previously an entrepreneur-in-residence for Greylock, Nash is now going to oversee a wide range of products that span consumer-focused file storage and sharing services all the way up to its Google Docs competitor Paper — each of which has a kind of consumer-born aesthetic that’s targeting use cases within enterprises, whether that’s building tools to get documents into its service or to actually helping teams spec out products within a kind of continuous document like Paper. But as it focuses on simplicity, Dropbox has to take care not to end up feature-creeping its way out of what made it successful initially, so the final product decisions may be a bit different. Naman will also inherit that challenge of marketing a consumer-oriented product that’s targeting businesses.

As Dropbox looks to continue to mature as a public company, it has to ensure that it still brings on talent that understands where it’s going now as it tries to wrangle larger enterprise customers that have a complex set of needs beyond just the typical consumer. Going public certainly helps with that credibility a little bit, but it’s hires like these that will determine what kinds of products actually make it out the door and the messaging that goes with them — and whether larger enterprises will actually adopt them.

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Dropbox beefs up mobile collaboration in latest release

Posted by | Cloud, collaboration, Dropbox, dropbox for teams, Enterprise, Mobile | No Comments

Dropbox announced several enhancements today designed to beef up its mobile offering and help employees on the go keep up with changes to files stored in Dropbox .

In a typical team scenario, a Dropbox user shared a file with a team member for review or approval. If they wanted to check the progress of this process, the only way to do it up until now was to send an email or text message explicitly asking if the person looked at it yet — not a terribly efficient workflow.

Dropbox recognized this and has built in a fix in the latest mobile release. Now users can can simply see who has looked at or taken action on a file directly from the mobile application without having to leave the application.

In addition, those being asked to review files can see those notifications right at the top of the Home screen in the mobile app, making the whole feedback cycle much more organized.

Photo: Dropbox

Joey Loi, product manager at Dropbox says this is a much more streamlined way to understand activity inside of Dropbox. “With this feature, we think about the closing loop on collaboration. At its heart, collaboration is feedback flows. When I change something on a file, there are a few steps before [my co-worker] knows I’ve changed it,” Loi explained. With this feature that feedback loop can close much faster.

The company also changed the way it organizes and displays files putting the files that you opened most recently at the top of the Home screen, which is somewhat like Recents in Google Drive. It also provides a way to favorite a file and puts those files that are most important at the top of the list, making it easier to find the files that are likely most important to you more quickly when you access the mobile app.

Finally you can now drag and drop a file from an email into a Dropbox folder in a mobile context.

While none of these individual updates are earth shattering changes by any means, they do make it easier for users to access, share and work with files in Dropbox on a mobile device. “All the features are to help teams collaborate and be efficient on mobile,” Loi said.

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Dropbox rolls out a templates tool for its Paper online document service

Posted by | Dropbox, Enterprise, Mobile, paper | No Comments

As Dropbox looks to woo larger and larger businesses with its strategy of building simpler collaboration tools than what’s on the market, it’s making some moves in its online document tool Paper to further reduce that friction today.

Dropbox said it was rolling out a new tool for Dropbox Paper that allows users to get a paper document up and running through a set of templates. It may seem like something that would be table stakes for a company looking to create an online document tool like Google Docs, but figuring out what Paper’s core use cases look like can take a lot of thinking and user research before finally pulling the trigger. Dropbox at its heart hopes to have a consumer feel for its products, so preserving that as it looks to build more robust tools presents a bigger challenge for the freshly-public company.

The templates tool behaves pretty much like other tools out there: you open Dropbox Paper, and you’ll get the option to create a document from a number of templates. Some common use cases for Dropbox Paper include continuous product development timelines and design specs, but it seems the company hopes to broaden that by continuing to integrate new features like document previews. Dropbox Paper started off as a blank slate, but given the number of options out there, it has to figure out a way to differentiate itself eventually.

The company said it’s also rolling out a number of other small features. That includes a way to pin documents, launch presentations, format text and insert docs and stickers. There’s also a new meeting widget and increased formatting options in the comments section in Paper. Finally, it’s adding a number of small quality-of-life updates like viewing recent Paper docs by alphabetical order and the ability to unsubscribe to comment notifications and archive docs on iOS, as well as aggregating to-do lists across docs.

Dropbox went public earlier this year to dramatic success, immediately getting that desired “pop” and more or less holding it throughout the past month or so as one of the first blockbuster IPOs of 2018. There have been a wave that have followed since, including DocuSign, and it’s one of a batch of several enterprise companies looking to get out the door now that it appears the window is open for investor demand for fresh IPOs.

Paper, to that end, appears to be a key piece of the puzzle for Dropbox. The company has always sought to be a company centered around simple collaboration tools, coming from its roots as a consumer company to start. It’s an approach that has served it — and others, like Slack — well as the company looks to expand more and more into larger enterprises. While it’s been able to snap up users thanks to its simpler approach, those enterprise deals are always more lucrative and serve as a stronger business line for Dropbox.

Dropbox will have to continue to not only differentiate itself from Google Docs and other tools, but also an emerging class of startups that’s looking to figure out ways to snap up some of the core use cases of online document tools. Slite, for example, hopes to capture the internal wiki and note-taking portion of an online doc system like Google Docs. That startup raised $4.4 million earlier this month. There’s also Coda, a startup that’s looking to rethink what a document looks altogether, which raised $60 million. Templates are one way of reducing that friction and keeping it feeling like a simple document tool and hopefully getting larger businesses excited about its products.

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Former Nike CFO Don Blair joins Dropbox’s board of directors

Posted by | Don Blair, Drew Houston, Dropbox, Finance, IPO, Mobile, Startups, TC | No Comments

 As Dropbox continues its inevitable march toward an IPO, it’s going to look to bring in people with a lot of experience handling the operations of larger public companies — and it’s getting one today. Dropbox today said it is adding former Nike CFO Don Blair to the company’s board of directors. Blair will be joining the audit committee, the company said, and comes in with… Read More

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Dropbox Paper gets document previews and some other small updates

Posted by | Apps, Box, Dropbox, Enterprise, Microsoft, Mobile, paper, Startups, TC | No Comments

 Dropbox continues to tune its products as it tries to tap a bigger audience within larger companies with some updates today to its collaboration tool Paper, including the ability to preview documents before loading them. As a blank slate, Paper is increasingly popular with designers you might talk to in Silicon Valley. It basically turns the process of designing and building a product spec into… Read More

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Longtime enterprise exec Quentin Clark joins Dropbox as SVP of Engineering, Product and Design

Posted by | Apps, Drew Houston, Dropbox, Finance, IPO, Microsoft, Mobile, Quentin Clark, sap, Startups, TC | No Comments

 As Dropbox slowly gears up toward its initial public offering, it’s bringing on a longtime enterprise executive — Quentin Clark, a former VP of Microsoft as well as SAP CTO — as head of its very-long-title-where-he-will-oversee-a-ton-of-things. Read More

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Dropbox is reportedly inching closer to a potential IPO

Posted by | Apps, Drew Houston, Dropbox, Goldman Sachs, Mobile, Startups, TC | No Comments

 Dropbox may be taking another step in its very slow shuffle toward an IPO, and is now working with Goldman Sachs to prepare documents that could be filed as soon as this year, according to a report by Bloomberg. The company is expected to hire Goldman Sachs as the lead advisor of the IPO process, according to the report. Read More

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