It was a love fest here at Dreamforce today with Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and Dropbox Founder Drew Houston sharing the stage and asking each other questions in a fireside chat. Well, maybe, it was more about Benioff loving Houston. But beyond the platitudes, Houston did have some things worth sharing about his company that is now believed to be raising $250 million at a whopping $8 billion valuation.
On stage, though, there is a sincerity and something quite believable when Houston says that the big goal is to reach 1 billion users. It’s more believable when considering the alternative people faced when he started the company in 2007. USB sticks and email — that was pretty much how data was shared and stored. So, in part out of frustration, he created Dropbox and soon, as Benioff said, people like Steve Jobs were calling on the wunderkind and co-founder Arash Ferdowsi.
Houston separated himself from other startup CEOs by making a bet that USB sticks and email could be abstracted with a service that syncs online with a person’s desktop operating system. They created a service that is dead simple to use. And as a result, revenues are scaling and so are the number of users.
It’s important to note that Dropbox is the “Innovation Sponsor,” for Dreamforce. Registered users receive a backpack that includes a “Dropbox for Business,” t-shirt. I do not know how much Dropbox paid Salesforce for such a privilege but it’s often a considerable sum to sponsor a Dreamforce event.
And so the sponsorship makes the whole Benioff lovefest make some sense. Benioff just waxed poetic about Houston, comparing him to Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder. “You are everything that Dreamforce is about,” Benioff said.
Nevertheless, Benioff and Houston did make a good pair on stage. Benioff kept it lively and Houston had a forum to talk about innovation.
In the end, it was a lovefest worth watching. And it led me to YouTube, where I looked for Eddie Vedder and some sign of Drew Houston.