Dropbox and Box were never contenders

box vs dropbox

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As Dropbox had its IPO moment this morning. More than ten years after launch, we could finally put one fantasy to rest. Box vs Dropbox or Dropbox and Box were not targeting the same customers.

Since Anshu Sharma, founder in Prekari, a stealth startup and former partner at Storm Venture tweeted earlier:

The same is true for analysts, investors, and journalists. If you don’t believe they are different, consider this in Dropbox’s S-1 paperwork they file with SEC, you may note they didn’t even record Box as a primary competitor: “We compete with Box to a more limited basis from the cloud storage market for deployments by large businesses,” the company writes.

They had something in common, naturally, however, Dropbox has ever been about managing files from the cloud, while Box focuses on business content usage case cases from the cloud — and that’s a very different approach.

As Shria Ovide pointed out in her investigation on Bloomberg after the filing, the S-1 also proved that Dropbox has ever been an “a custom software company with a side-by-side .” That facet hustle was the venture business.

Consumer with a dashboard of venture

It ends up that the vast bulk of Dropbox’s joint business. Consumer revenue of more than just a $1 billion came from consumers. Dropbox has ever provided an attractive customer storage tool. It’s nicely integrated into desktop OSs, and it’s a wonderful mobile tool.

I use it, and for $10 a month, I get a terabyte of storage. I can back up my life there, and it incorporates neatly into Finder on my Mac. While I capture screens, they move automatically to Dropbox . It gives a location to back up my pictures from my cell phone. It’s handy and easy, and it works.

It seemed such a tool translates nicely to business, but Alan Pelz-Sharpe, founder and chief analyst at Deep Analysis that has been following this space for years, states Dropbox has primarily confined to teams on the business side. “Dropbox is primarily a consumer business with 500 million consumers, [with] just about 300,000 teams with their business offering,”.

That is not to say they aren’t hoping to catch more of the venture. In the weeks before the IPO, they made a pair of announcements designed to increase their business credibility, including one with Google to put away G Suite documents natively in Dropbox and one with Salesforce to embed Dropbox folders in Salesforce Sales and Marketing Clouds.

For today though, in spite of this business drive, Pelz-Sharpe points out that most of Dropbox’s business clients are small groups of 3 or more people with a dashboard of larger implementations. “Nor are individuals building much in addition to Dropbox in the way of business applications. It remains mainly an extremely efficient file-sharing system,” he clarified.

Differences with Box (Box vs Dropbox)

This compared to Box, which works mostly with large business companies for many years to solve far more complex problems around content. Aaron Levie from Box said he is absolutely rooting for Dropbox. However, they’ve always been going after different niches, since Box opt to go enterprise about two years into its existence.

“We are basically constructing two very different companies. Both are large markets. While there is no limit to the scale that they could turn into, we’ve built a very different business about how can you serve [large companies] and deal with unstructured company data — and it’s a really different product collection [out of Dropbox],” Levie says.

Dropbox was off to a fantastic start now with the stock soaring up almost 40% in early trading. But nevertheless, Dropbox ends up in the days and months ahead, they’ll do it having made their mark mainly as a consumer business. That’s fine. If they continue to build their business with time, it might get better for them. But it ends up until today, the only matter Box and Dropbox has in common. Which is both has “box” in their names.


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