Dropbox Buys Mailbox, All 13 Employees Joining And App Will Remain Separate

Dropbox has acquired Mailbox, the popular email app for iOS devices, in a deal the terms of which weren’t disclosed. The companies reported the deal to the Wall Street Journal on Friday, saying that Mailbox would remain a separate app as the entire team joins Dropbox. Dropbox CEO Drew Houston told the WSJ that his company felt it “could help Mailbox reach a much different audience much faster.”

Aside from keeping Mailbox running as a separate, standalone application, Houston told the WSJ that Dropbox will use Mailbox’s tech to improve its own features, including handling email attachments. Mailbox is made by Orchestra, a Palo Alto-based startup, and generated plenty of buzz around its launch. The launch featured a unique virtual waiting line, something Mailbox had to put into place to ease the initial strain on its servers.

In an official blog post from Dropbox by co-founders Houston and Arash Ferdowsi, the company shared that it felt the goals of the two companies aligned near-perfectly. Both, the post says, hope to improve upon existing legacy tech that people use everyday; the hard drive in the case of Dropbox, and email for Mailbox.

Mailbox has managed to wrack up 1.3 million reservations since its launch, Orchestra CEO Genry Underwood told the WSJ. He also shared that in terms of volume, Mailbox is delivering 60 million messages a day (up from the 50 million he reported to us just recently), and “struggling to keep up with demand.” Dropbox, with its cloud-based expertise, larger team and years of experience handling server load.

Orchestra had raised $5.3 million previously in a Series A round announced from November 2011, led by Charles River Ventures and including SV Angel, Kapor Capital and CrunchFund.

Past Dropbox acquisitions include Snapjoy, the photo cloud storing company. At the time of the acquisition, Snapjoy, unlike Mailbox, isn’t accepting new signups and will likely be rolled into Dropbox in a more direct fashion. Likewise, prior acquisition Audiogalaxy announced it would be closing new member signups when it was acquired by Dropbox in 2012. Mailbox looks to buck the trend when compared to those earlier deals, which makes sense since its product is further removed from Dropbox’s core focus.

I spoke to Dropbox investor and Charles Rivers Ventures partner Saar Gur about the deal, and while he couldn’t share any specific information about the size of the deal, he did imply that Mailbox had a strong negotiating position and that investors were very satisfied with the final arrangements. Gur said that while Mailbox had a number of possible avenues to choose from in terms of interested investors and potential acquirers, Dropbox felt like the best fit, in part because they clearly wanted to acquire Mailbox as a product, not just for the talent. The acquisition had clear advantages for Mailbox as a product, too, over other routes like raising additional funding.

“Given what’s going on in the talent market and sort of the alignment of vision with Dropbox, I think the Mailbox guys could offer a lot in terms of their team and talent,” he said. “But Drobpox in terms of just scalable infrastructure could be helpful, and Dropbox also has a huge recruiting engine in place to get resources behind Mailbox, vs. being another funded startup trying to find engineers.”

*Disclosure: TechCrunch founder and current columnist Michael Arrington is a general partner at CrunchFund.