Mike Isaac and Liz Gannes

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Dropbox Acquires Email Startup Mailbox to Help It Scale

mailboxDropbox announced on Friday that it had acquired Mailbox, the startup focused on changing the way users handle email on the smartphone.

“After spending time with Gentry, Scott, and the team, it became clear that their calling was the same as ours at Dropbox — to solve life’s hidden problems and reimagine the things we do every day,” Dropbox said in a blog post. “We all quickly realized that together we could save millions of people a lot of pain.”

The 14-member Mailbox team will report to Dropbox headquarters in San Francisco next week.

The Mailbox app launched only a little less than a month ago, where it gained much attention for attempting a new take on the way users access email on their mobile devices. Beginning with the iPhone and Gmail, Mailbox allowed for different ways of accessing email, including resurfacing a message after a few days or hours, and color-coding organization. Users were also prompted to swipe in different ways to carry out different actions.

However, the company had trouble dealing with demand, with many would-be users downloading the iPhone app but unable to use it while they waited for their turn to be let off the list. Some 1.3 million people made “reservations” to sign up for the app. Even without letting all of those people in, Mailbox is already delivering 60 million emails per day, the company said.

Mailbox explained in its own blog post on the acquisition, “We can’t wait to put Mailbox in the hands of everyone who wants it.” And of Dropbox: “They’ve got a ton of experience scaling services and are experts at handling people’s data with care.”

As with any sort of startup like Mailbox, the business model immediately came into question: How was a small email app supposed to start generating revenue?

The answer, it seems, is clear — now it doesn’t have to.

(Image courtesy of Revenant/Shutterstock.com)


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus