With trailing twelve month sales of $1.9 billion, a market cap of $8.4 billion, $1.2 billion in cash, and zero bank debt, Dropbox (NASDAQ: DBX) is a leading provider of cloud-based file synchronization, backup, and content management software. Founded in 2007, the inspiration for the company came from CEO Drew Houston, who, as an M.I.T. student, began to conceive of an easier way to backup and share files.
Originally conceived as a way to conduct cloud-based file sync and backup—essentially replacing the need for a flash drive—Dropbox has evolved into a cloud-based content management software company, with subscription and monthly use plans for consumers, and businesses, which range in size from freelancers to the Fortune 100.
Since its inception Dropbox has deployed a bottoms-up freemium sales model, in which users typically sign up for a free service plan, and migrate over time to a paid plan, through either an annual subscription—greater than 50 percent of the time—or a monthly plan. Dropbox’s content management software plans range from free to more than $240 per year, depending on the level of functionality and customer support selected. The company’s unique freemium model has enabled it to reach and serve over 600 million registered users in 180 countries, who manage over 550 billion pieces of content.
At the end of Q3 2020, the company had 15.3 million paid users generating average revenue of nearly $128 per year, as compared to last year, when it had 14 million paid users, who generated an average $123. Roughly 12 million, or 80 percent of the company’s 15 million paid users use Dropbox for work purposes.
Dropbox does not break out revenue by vertical industry, however some of the more popular ones include technology, media and advertising, as well as construction. Other popular verticals include colleges and universities, manufacturing firms, consumer and retail, and financial services. As a content management tool, Dropbox is used by virtually all functional groups, including sales, marketing, product, design, engineering, finance, legal, and human resources.
Paying users as a percentage of the registered total is just three percent as of the most recent quarter. Dropbox believes that as many as 350 million, or roughly 60 percent of its non-paying, registered installed base of 585 million are high value targets, meaning that they exhibit many of the same characteristics as its installed base. By virtue of their existing registration, the company has created a large funnel from which to draw future paid subscribers. It can also reach and sign up prospective users at a fraction of the cost of many enterprise software companies that rely primarily on a direct sales force.
Over the last several years, Dropbox has expanded from a focus on consumers to small, mid-sized, and large businesses and non-profits, including colleges and universities. The company’s software is well-suited to workgroups of all sizes, which must collaborate across multiple functional areas and geographies. The company has been assisted by the growing trend to remote work, as stay-at-home orders mandated by governments, corporations, and non-profits, in the U.S. and abroad, in the wake of COVID-19, has increased the pace with which knowledge workers must collaborate regardless of their physical location.
Dropbox, whose revenues have grown from $1.1 billion in 2017, the year before it came public, to roughly $1.9 billion this year, has grown organically, with the assistance of only a few tuck-in acquisitions along the way. As Dropbox shifts its emphasis from consumer file sync and share to content management for businesses of all sizes, many greenfield opportunities lie ahead.