Today at an event in San Francisco in which it announced updates to its Paper app and its Smart Sync feature, Dropbox CEO Drew Houston talked up the company’s revenue growth and self-serve business model.
Houston claimed that Dropbox was on pace for a $1 billion revenue run rate and that the company was free-cash flow positive, which could bolster the company’s plans for a rumored late-2017 IPO.
To put things into perspective: 18 months ago, Dropbox said it had more than 400 million registered users and that users synced 1.2 billion files a day. Last summer, when it released its AdminX console, the company claimed more than 500 million registered users and more than 200,000 business signed up for Dropbox Business.
Dropbox has made plenty of incremental additions to its enterprise toolkit in order to woo larger companies like News Corp, Spotify, and Expedia. The sum of all these products is, in the end, an aspirational enterprise product that can transform its business into the one that investors thought it could be years ago.
Dropbox can likely thank smaller businesses that initially snapped up its simple online file-sharing tools and simply grew up with them. The company, however, will end up facing the perpetual problem of convincing those larger companies that it’s a grown-up enterprise company and get them off Microsoft’s tools.
To be sure, a $1 billion run rate would be impressive. Box reported in its last quarter that it generated $102.8 million in revenue. Box, from the get-go, gunned for enterprises and for the large part has built a brand around the company — and Aaron Levie — as one that specializes in enterprise software. That’s given it the capability of selling itself to larger companies over a company that has largely held a strong consumer brand like Dropbox.
But just having a $1 billion run rate doesn’t mean that Dropbox’s work is done. While it works to rapidly build a strong enterprise product, it has companies like Salesforce acquiring Quip for $750 million and placing it in a position to beat out its note-taking app Paper.
Google has started to aggressively expand its enterprise collaboration tools like GSuite, which is no longer just a pet project. And Microsoft has shifted under new CEO Satya Nadella has essentially pivoted its tools to a more cloud-based approach, moving Office onto a diverse set of platforms.
The main question for DropBox is whether it can continue to grab larger customers while also serving self-serve businesses with its new tools.