updated 01:05 pm EDT, Tue October 18, 2011
Claimed Dropbox a 'feature,' not product
Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs offered a massive amount of cash to buy Dropbox, but was rejected, a new Forbes piece reveals. In December 2009, Jobs invited Dropbox founders Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi to his office at Apple's Cupertino headquarters. Houston recalls being intimidated. "I mean, Steve friggin' Jobs," he comments. "How do you even prepare for that?"
Houston says that he initially brought out a notebook to demonstrate, but that Jobs waved him off, adding "I know what you do." The CEO then made a pitch for buying out Dropbox, but Houston interrupted, insisting he was trying to build a large firm and wasn't selling, despite considering Jobs a hero and the large sum being offered. The amount of money on the table reached into nine digits, according to Houston.
Jobs is said to have smiled warmly at the same time as he stated that he was going after Dropbox's market. "He said we were a feature, not a product," Houston comments. The next half hour of the meeting is claimed to have revolved around Jobs talking about returning to Apple and not trusting investors, as he drank tea and also fielded questions.
The executive would later offer to meet at Dropbox's San Francisco office. Houston instead suggested meeting in Silicon Valley, which he now explains by saying "Why let the enemy get a taste?" Nothing more was heard from Jobs, however, until June 2011, when he announced iCloud and derided Dropbox as just a partial attempt at solving the question of getting files from every device into one place.
The following day Houston sent a memo to staff reminding them that while Dropbox is "one of the fastest-growing companies in the world," plenty of similar firms have crashed, such as MySpace, Netscape, Palm, and Yahoo.
Dropbox hosts between 2 and 100GB of a person's data on its servers, in plans ranging from free to $20 a month. The key to its success however is the service's associated clients; on a Mac or Windows system users simply copy files into a Dropbox folder, which then automatically uploads the content and keeps it in sync. These files can be accessed remotely not just through other computers but via mobile apps for iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone devices.
Forbes remarks that Dropbox is now up to over 50 million users, and should reach $240 million in 2011 revenue despite 96 percent of its subscribers being on the free plan. The company only has 70 workers, and therefore grosses about three times more per person than Google. Sales should at least double in 2012 even without adding any customers, claims Houston.