Dropbox CEO on enterprise push, IPO rumors, and iCloud

"I'm sure we'll go public at some point. But fortunately it's not something we have to think about right now," Houston said.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

SAN FRANCISCO -- Dropbox has been stepping up its enterprise strategy over the last few months, but the cloud storage provider seems content with its core consumer audience base -- and continuing to operate on a private basis.

Speaking at TechCrunch Disrupt 2013 on Monday afternoon, CEO Drew Houston seemed nonplussed about how crowded the cloud storage scene is becoming -- especially given how many providers are offering more free storage.

Dropbox currently only offers up to two gigabytes of space for free, while Box pushed the bar up to 10GB and Google Drive gives away 15GB.

But Houston defended that Dropbox focuses "less on gigabytes, because to the average person, a gigabyte is a pretty abstract thing."

Instead, Dropbox's strategy is the "experience," translating to how well the user interface and integrated features work.

In terms of the enterprise, Houston hinted that the experience shouldn't differ much between work and personal accounts, acknowledging that each comes with their own use cases.

Security is often cited as the many worry for IT managers having to deal with employees bringing Dropbox into the workplace.

To work around that, Houston described that the enterprise strategy is held up by two key pillars: visibility and control.

Highlighting recently releases such as a new admin console and single sign-on support, Houston declared that Dropbox has been more focused on the IT audience "so they can get the control back on a chaotic situation."

Remarkably, Dropbox looks like it is controlling its own growth issues well enough -- at least from an outsider's perspective. Here's a snapshot of the people factor at Dropbox, by the numbers:

  • More than 200 million users
  • Roughly 100,000 developers at its disposal
  • The Dropbox employee base grew from approximately 90 to 400 in one year

When pressed by TechCrunch's Josh Constine about the increasing competition, Houston attempted to remained diplomatic -- especially when pressed about Google Drive.

"All the big companies that have things that compete with ours," Houston replied. But he opened up a little more about what he thinks of iCloud.

"It keeps asking me to pay for it, like every morning I wake up and it's like 'You haven't upgraded your iCloud storage yet,'" complained Houston.

Houston boasted that the difference with Dropbox is that it works with "all the different things you use," regardless of iOS vs. Android, PC vs. Mac.

"The limitation of just working with Apple stuff can be frustrating," Houston lamented. "Otherwise, I think within the Apple ecosystem, it works really well."

Looking forward, there is still plenty of speculation as to when Dropbox will go public.

When asked about an IPO, Houston admitted that Dropbox hasn't spent the money from its $4 billion preferred stock VC round a few years ago.

"We use this time to stay focused on products and building the business," Houston asserted. "I'm sure we'll go public at some point. But fortunately it's not something we have to think about right now."

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