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2017 IPO Prospects: Dropbox may Finally go Public

Posted on Friday, Feb 10th 2017

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Cloud-based storage services provider Dropbox has been debating for a while about going public. Last year’s dismal technology IPO and stock performance had swayed its decision to delay its IPO. But recent news suggests that the Billion Dollar Unicorn player may finally be looking at going public this year.

Dropbox’s Financials

California-based Dropbox has been operating on a freemium model for its storage services. The company was founded in 2007 by university graduates Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi. The idea for Dropbox came to Drew when he was on a bus ride during college and couldn’t access some files that he had left on a USB drive somewhere else. Since its release, Dropbox has been offering its storage service on the cloud to both individuals and enterprises. Users can access up to 2GB of storage space for free and need to pay as much as $9.99 a month for a 100 GB account. Dropbox Business offers organizations with access to the app at a cost of $150 per employee per year.

Dropbox does not disclose its financials. Recent reports suggest that revenues for the year have grown from $400 million in 2014 to more than $750 million a year for 2016. Growth in revenues over the past few years has been attributed to the increased adoption of its business offering. It is still not profitable, but has been cash flow positive since early 2016.

Dropbox has raised $600 million from venture investors. Its investors include JPMorgan, BlackRock, Innovation Department, QueensBridge Venture Partners, Salesforce Ventures, T. Rowe Price, Index Ventures, Accel Partners, AFSquare, Benchmark, Glynn Capital Management, Goldman Sachs, Greylock Partners, Institutional Venture Partners, RIT Capital Partners, Sequoia Capital, SV Angel, Valiant Capital Partners, Ali Partovi, Amidzad Partners, Bobby Yazdani, Hadi Partovi, Pejman Nozad, Signatures Capital, and Y Combinator. Its valuation skyrocketed to $10 billion in January 2014. But over the last year, valuations have become more realistic. By the end of 2015, T. Rowe Price and Fidelity both reduced their valuation by nearly half.

Dropbox’s Growth Despite Competition

Dropbox is not the only member in the space. Box, a company that offers a similar product, listed on the NYSE back in 2015. The company hasn’t had a very impressive performance since listing. The company was valued at $2.4 billion prior to listing and after nearly two years, it is currently trading at $17.73 a stock with a market capitalization of $2.3 billion. Besides Box, Dropbox also faces extensive competition from the big players like Alphabet, Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft. These giants are offering heavily discounted storage along with the capability to integrate seamlessly across devices and an organization’s tech eco-system.

Despite the trends, Dropbox is not too worried. Its users have grown from 100 million four years ago to over 500 million. It claims to be adding nearly 10 million new people each month. Additionally, it claims that an “increasing percentage” of those users are signing up for the $100-a-year premium version. Its enterprise offering has also seen strong traction. It has been deployed at more than 200,000 companies compared with 50,000 back in 2014. Its customer list includes big names like Expedia and News Corp.

To further strengthen the Enterprise version, in 2015, Dropbox released a beta version of Paper, a virtual white space for employees and contractors to share Excel spreadsheets, Google Docs, and other digital assets regardless of the device being used. More recent additions to the service include tools that allow scanning of documents with a smartphone camera and the ability to create new Microsoft Office documents with the click of a button.

Dropbox has been toying with the idea of listing over the past few years. By mid-2016, it had abandoned plans of listing. By the end of the year though, listing plans were revived with improvement in the market. This year, it may finally happen. Itchy investors abound.

More investigation and analysis of Unicorn companies can be found in my latest Entrepreneur Journeys book, Billion Dollar Unicorns. The term Unicorn was coined in a TechCrunch article by Aileen Lee of Cowboy Ventures.

Photo Credit: Ian Lamont/Flickr.com

This segment is a part in the series : 2017 IPO Prospects

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