Dropbox continues to acquire great design talent

Tim Van Damme, the lead designer at Instagram, has announced on his blog he’s joining Dropbox in early August after 18 months at Instagram.

Tim Van Damme, Hello, Dropbox
It’s time to move on, time to solve a different set of problems.
Dropbox is a fascinating company. It provides value to a wide range of people, not just those who build things.

Dropbox has been mining from a number of very social companies. The acquisition of Mailbox from Orchestra came with Gentry Underwood and his talented crew. (Remember, Orchestra also has a task management app of the same name). Soleio Cuervo, the guy behind Facebook’s “like” button joined the company in December, and Rasmus Andersson, another Facebook (and Spotify) designer joined in March.
Here’s my bet. Dropbox is going to continue their ascent. They won’t take their eyes off what has led them to where they are — which is file sync and sharing — but I am betting that they are developing something bigger. Much bigger.
My bet is that Dropbox could be that upstart startup, the one that moves in to shake everything up, just like Google did when it launched Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Docs.
It would be interesting to see a new take on calendars, a social take. And some real innovation in ‘word processing’ and ‘document editing’ and ‘office applications’. There is an obvious opportunity for new approaches to cooperative instead of collaborative work tools, and the background social platform of Dropbox — where files silently sync in the background while we work in the foreground — seems a great starting point for that experimentation to happen.
I will be watching closely.

Wrike is the newest to integrate Dropbox Chooser

Last month, Dropbox released Dropbox Chooser, an API to make integration of Dropbox into other applications much easier. At the time of the announcement Asana, the team task management tool, had already integrated Chooser into their implementation:

The benefits to users are great, since  the integration leverages Dropbox file sync, meaning that I can update a file in a Dropbox folder on my laptop after attaching to an Asana task, and anyone sharing that task will see the most recent version of the doc without me having to do anything.

Wrike, a competing team task manager, today announced that they have integrated Chooser as well:

We are rapidly moving away from the old paradigm of file sharing through web apps, and the confusion caused by users having to upload new versions of documents every time a change is made, and collaborators downloading documents and not knowing if they have the current version or not.

The new paradigm will be the following:

  1. Team members sign up for Dropbox for Teams, or a competitive offering, like Box.
  2. A folder is created for a project or a team, and all the team members share it.
  3. A team task management or work media tool is selected that integrates with the teams file-sync-and-share technology.
  4. Files intended for sharing are dragged into the shared folder, and linked to tasks, updates, messages, or comments in the task manager or work media tool, always staying in sync.

The only unnecessary effort involved is the manual creation and sharing of the project or team shared folder, but that could be simplified so that the task manager or work media tool performed that automatically.

I expect this to be nearly ubiquitous by the end of 2013.