Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Yahoo Deal Is the Latest Example of Dropbox Flexing Its Muscles

Just two weeks after Dropbox beat Yahoo’s efforts to buy young mobile email startup Mailbox, the cloud storage upstart just won prominent billing within Yahoo’s own email product.

How’s that for a cherry on top?

The two companies announced today that Yahoo Mail users can now save email attachments to Dropbox and access their Dropbox accounts from within their email. (This doesn’t happen automatically; users have to opt in, and then save each attachment individually. Yahoo previously had a somewhat similar arrangement with YouSendIt.)

Yahoo has some 300 million active users, so it’s a good win for Dropbox, which has 100 million registered users.

And we’ve seen this movie before; it makes sense for startups that are coming into power to partner with underdogs (see: Facebook and Microsoft and search).

Dropbox has emerged as the strongest-positioned consumer technology startup in Silicon Valley, given that it has a clear business plan that actually makes money, is a talent magnet, and has lots of room to grow. (Dropbox gives away two gigabytes of space per user, and charges $9.99 per month for additional storage.) For proof, see the Mailbox acquisition — very few other companies could have won that bidding war by using their stock.

Of course, the Yahoo partnership is not Dropbox’s first validation of that sort, by any means. The company already has key promotions and integrations with Samsung and HTC, as well as a platform on which other people can build.

But meanwhile, back on the mail front, Dropbox still has minimal document-editing tools compared to Google and Microsoft, which both have widely used email services, online storage and online collaboration tools.

But that could change. At a press conference about a new photo-viewing interface earlier this year, Dropbox said that it planned to push away from being a secure personal-storage product to become a service that brings content to wherever people need it.

“We’re moving away from a file system-centric view to a more content-focused view,” explained a Dropbox engineer at the event.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik