Why Dropbox’s 25 Million Users Are Just the Start

Dropbox, the popular cloud file-sharing and back-up tool, is on a tear with 25 million users using the system and 200 million files saved each day, according to new data from the company. That’s a huge increase for Dropbox, which reported 4 million users in January of last year and 1 million in April 2009. But it’s just the beginning.
The company sees a bright future providing syncing services as more devices become connected and more services tie into Dropbox. While the service started largely on desktop and laptops, it has grown mightily in the last year with the popularity of smartphones and tablets. Next up, it will be TVs, cameras and even automobiles, said Drew Houston, CEO and co-founder of Dropbox.
“It’ll be everything with an on switch,” Houston said. “Literally, anyone with an Internet computer or phone can find Dropbox useful. That’s really all walks of life.”
Houston said he’s hearing from “countless companies” looking to build Dropbox into their products. The idea is that users will be able to view their personal photos on a TV or play their own synced music on a car via Dropbox. Houston said in the near future, consumers will see an array of products in Best Buy (s bby) and other stores offering the ability to sync with Dropbox.
“There’s never been something like Dropbox to tie all these things together. So one of the big things we’ll be doing over the next couple years will be building these kinds of seamless experiences with leading partners and putting them in tens and soon hundreds of millions of people’s hands,” Houston said.
The push from 25 million users to 2.5 billion users, Houston’s lofty goal, will clearly take some time. But the team at the San Francisco-based company has shown they’re focused on building a solid product with proven reliability, even with a crush of new users. That influx of users is a big reason why usage has soared to 200 million files saved a day. For perspective, that’s more files saved than there are tweets posted on Twitter each day. Dropbox has managed to grow without advertising because it has great word of mouth. That has extended overseas, where the company now sees half of its usage. It sells in 175 countries, which is pretty remarkable for a company that has only put out an English version until today. The company just announced German, French, Spanish and Japanese support for the first time.
Co-founder Arash Ferdowsi said Dropbox will be putting even more emphasis on its platform this year, and will be looking to get it integrated with more apps and services. There are more than 200 apps that currently hook into Dropbox and Ferdowsi said there are many more opportunities to make the service ubiquitous as it scales up. He said the company is working on its APIs to make it easier to access and pull content from Dropbox. If all goes well, many sites will give users the ability to back up their content directly to Dropbox, something we’re already seeing with many productivity apps.
“Imagine a world where you go to photo-sharing site, click a button and connect to Dropbox,” Ferdowsi said. “When we have hundreds of millions of users, it’s a lot more compelling for these services to add hooks into Dropbox.”
Houston and Ferdowsi are quiet on their next funding move. They said even with the explosion of users, the business model of offering 2 GB of free storage for users while upselling a fraction on premium services is holding up. The company, a former Y Combinator start-up, previously raised $7.25 million in a Series A round from Sequoia Capital and Accel Partners. It will likely need another big chunk in the near future, because the company has very big plans.