Dropbox touts enterprise growth at user conference

The storage company now has 150,000 paying business customers

Dropbox CEO Drew Houston speaks at the company's Open conference in San Francisco on November 4, 2015 Credit: Blair Hanley Frank

Dropbox CEO Drew Houston speaks at the company's Open conference in San Francisco on November 4, 2015 Credit: Blair Hanley Frank

If there’s one question hanging over Dropbox these days, it’s about the company's enterprise strategy. While the cloud storage provider has proven wildly popular among consumers, its products have had a slightly harder time gaining massive adoption in the enterprise. But the company has grown rapidly over the past several months.

Dropbox co-founder and CEO Drew Houston announced at the company’s first conference for users Wednesday that there are now more than 150,000 companies paying for its Dropbox for Business product, up from the 130,000 business customers he mentioned in September. The firm’s massive growth has drawn an interesting comparison to competitor Box, which has focused primarily on providing powerful features for businesses.

“We have added 50,000 business customers in the last 10 months,” Houston said. ”In the last year, we’ve added more paying business customers than they [Box] have in their lifetime."

The company’s pitch has been and remains simple: Hundreds of millions of people use Dropbox to sync files, and they bring that habit to more than 8 million businesses. In Dropbox’s view, IT departments that adopt its product will be heroes to their users who already have personal accounts with the service, and let them use the same tools they’re comfortable and happy with in their personal lives at work.

There’s one wrinkle in all that: IT departments mulling a Dropbox for Business purchase will also need another cloud collaboration suite in order to provide for the full range of needs their users have. Dropbox can’t compete with the likes of Google Drive and Office when it comes to productivity features, though the company is testing a new Paper collaboration product that’s reminiscent of Google Wave.

Meanwhile, the company is also facing tough competition on the consumer side as Google, Apple and Microsoft all more tightly integrate their own cloud storage offerings into products for the popular operating systems they control. When Dropbox released its Carousel photo backup and browsing app, it was a fairly unique experience that integrated easy photo browsing and cloud backup of images. Now, Google, Apple and Microsoft all have their own photo browsing apps that integrate with their respective storage services.

Wednesday is Dropbox’s big chance to show off new services that can draw companies to its storage services. It remains to be seen what the company has up its sleeves.

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Blair Hanley Frank

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