How Dropbox Business Turned Two Strangers into Billionaires

Drew Houston the CEO of Dropbox and his Co-founder Arash Fedowsi together at the center on the Launch of Dropbox/Forbes

Mr. Houston graduated in Computer science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology [MIT). As a recent graduate, he was about to work on a particular business idea in a memory stick, while traveling a 6-hour-long journey. He realized that he had forgotten the memory stick containing all the needed files.

This was not his first time forgetting things just like that, many a time he gets more frustrated when he comes across important things to do that requires reference from the memory stick. From this mis-hap, Mr. Houston thought of something that came up in his mind to write a code on solving the repetitive problem he had, even when he forgets the memory stick. Despite having no idea of the outcome, what he came up with was a Dropbox idea that helps users access it wherever they are online. In two weeks time, he had created a prototype and come up with the name.

Mr. Houston was backed by most prestigious start-up backers from Silicon Valley – Y Combinator. They liked his idea and were demanding for him to have a business partner. The start-up’s first rule was a new company must have more than one partner reason being it is likely to succeed and the workload might be heavy for one person making decisions and coping with the challenges.

At the moment Mr. Houston was a one-man band, and he tried to convince his friends around but he couldn’t get a match. He was given only two weeks to find a partner, find a stranger he could trust to become his co-founder. He said, “It was like getting an email from the dean of admissions to your favorite college, but the application deadline was in the next couple of weeks. You need to get married within that time frame, not just find a date,” so challenging.

He had to go back to his former school MIT and see if it will be possible for him to get a match. Luckily, he met a guy called Mr. Fedowsi, who was still studying Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. He said, “We met in the student center for an hour or two, then Arash dropped out of school the next week.” In his mind Houston knew Fedowsi’s parents had great plans for him, after finishing college, this was crazy, but he knew the business will not fail them. Mr. Fedowsi was convinced and happy about it, and joined together, went to Y-Combinator’s office based in Silicon Valley and launched their Dropbox in 2008.

After its launch in 2008, Dropbox started attracting its first customers through video promotions uploaded on discussion websites such as Reddit and Slashdot. They aimed at getting influencers in the technology sector and commence using the service and speaking of it positively, making the users number to grow by word of mouth.

Dropbox started being successful, from 5000 users on a waiting list to 75000 sign-ups. Then from there, it moved from 100,000 to 200,000 within a few days. Now Mr. Houston developed a team that came up with an incentivized referral scheme. This updated the Dropbox into a more free storage to customers who referred their friends or partners to sign up and continued on and on.

The business was so great and grew famous attracting millions of customers, even the late Steve Jobs paid attention, and decided to make an offer to the business in 2011. Despite the business challenges and stiff competition especially from Apple launching its iCloud in 2011, it still emerged to become the best. Dropbox today has over 500 million registered users, some of who pay an annual subscription fee for more storage apart from the free storage. The estimated figure of these customers is 11.5 million most of who happens to be business customers.

Earlier this year, the company floated on the Nasdaq index. Having more than 2000 global workforce employees, the company’s revenue exceeds $1bn. Dropbox, based in San Francisco, is valued at more than $12bn (£9bn). The net worth of Mr. Houston is calculated at $3bn while that of Fedowsi is $1.3bn. This company emerged from nothing to something, faced challenges of negative vice from its competitors and now it stands firmly with an accumulative good figure for its customers worldwide.

Arash Fedowsi the Co-founder right and CEO Houston left at New York Times Square during the debut of their company on the Stock Market on Friday 23 March/ The Kansas City Star

The unity of Mr. Houston and Fedowsi stands firm till to date. Mr. Ben Wood a Technology Analyst of research group CCS Insight says that the created Dropbox is favorable to many customers because it allows people to share, save photos, videos and other big files that can’t be accommodated by email servers, not excluding its mobility to ease of access.  Mr. Houston’s main focus is making the customers happy as he continues to be the Chief Executive of the company. He wants his staff to stay focused in a future upgrade and forget about the recent floatation. #Rewordit


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

5 + twenty =