Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Dropbox Lands $250 Million Funding Round (And Once Spurned Interest From Steve Jobs)

A new anecdote about the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs emerged today: In 2009, he kicked the tires on a possible acquisition of Dropbox, the file-sharing site with 50 million users. Dropbox, Jobs told its founder Drew Houston, is a feature, not a service unto itself. Houston cut him off before he could make an offer.

The anecdote appears in a new profile of Dropbox in the latest issue of Forbes, which also disclosed that the service is on track to hit $240 million in sales this year, even though the vast majority of its users pay nothing to use it.

But the meat of the story comes further in: Dropbox just closed a massive $250 million Series B round of funding, at an implied valuation of $4 billion, from Benchmark Capital, Goldman Sachs, Greylock Partners, Institutional Venture Partners, RIT Capital Partners and Valiant Capital Partners. Early investors Sequoia Capital, Accel Partners, and Hadi and Ali Partovi also participated in the round, bringing Dropbox’s total funding to date to $257.2 million. Houston’s stake, Forbes says, amounts to 15 percent of the equity, which would be worth about $600 million.

Houston may yet live to regret turning Jobs down. The Apple CEO proposed another meeting that never happened, then managed to single out Dropbox for disparagement as part of his iCloud keynote in June. That got the attention of Houston, who quickly fired off a memo to his team that included a list of once-hot companies that later crashed: MySpace, Netscape, Palm and Yahoo. Apple — which once viewed Dropbox as the sort of “strategic asset” for which it keeps its $70 billion war chest stuffed — is now the competition.

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There was a worry before I started this that I was going to burn every bridge I had. But I realize now that there are some bridges that are worth burning.

— Valleywag editor Sam Biddle