Dropbox files confidentially for IPO – reports

Cloud storage provider Dropbox has filed confidentially for IPO, according to a Bloomberg report.

According to the report, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan will lead the potential listing, with Dropbox aiming to list in the first half of this year. The company’s most recent valuation, in 2014, was at $10 billion.

The move, alongside Spotify’s bid to go public at the very start of this year, represents the first tech IPOs of 2018. Writing in October, venture capitalist Fred Wilson said that 2018 and 2019 will be ‘bumper years’ for tech IPOs ‘assuming the markets behave.’ Dropbox regularly made pundits’ lists of potential tech IPOs this year, including this MarketWatch piece on New Year’s Eve.

It was the better part of 11 years ago when Drew Houston posted his app idea onto Hacker News with the tagline ‘throw away your USB drive.’ Initial feedback from users was positive – apart from one user who insisted it was ‘trivial’ to build such a system in Linux – and the product officially launched in September 2008. A series A funding round of $6 million followed in November, with total funding exceeding $2 billion up to series D and including credit lines.

Major rivals include Microsoft’s OneDrive and Box – although the two companies were at pains to say they weren’t direct competitors – while Houston regaled the story of how Steve Jobs was interested in acquiring Dropbox, adding that he saw the company as a feature, rather than a product.

Unlike Box, whose focus on the enterprise was clear pretty much from its inception, Dropbox took longer to move in. the company made its most concerted push to the enterprise market in November 2015 with Dropbox Enterprise, although by this time it already had Dropbox for Business with a major user base. Earlier that year, Dropbox said its total number of users had exceeded 400 million.

In more recent times, the company hit a $1 billion annual run rate at the start of last year, becoming one of only five software as a service (SaaS) providers to do so as well as being the fastest. In comparison, it took Salesforce approximately 10 years to hit this figure; by August 2017, the original SaaS king passed the $10 billion run rate.

More than anything else, Dropbox continually refused to be rushed or drawn in to IPO discussions. Houston always insisted that Dropbox would move when the time was right. As Recode put it, the joke was that the company was set to go public in the fourth quarter of that year… every year.

In the annual Forbes Cloud 100 list, first published in 2016 showcasing the hottest private cloud companies – privately owned, rather than ‘private cloud’, of course – Dropbox secured second place in both years. As this publication put it earlier this week when Veeam – another company on the list and another company not rushing going public – issued its financial results, the list has always been an excellent barometer of the best private companies who could be ready to take the next step.

If all goes to plan, Dropbox will become the first Y Combinator-backed company to go public.

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