Dropbox Indeed Balked at Major Acquisition Offer from Apple

dropbox wordmark
Last month, word surfaced that popular file storage and sharing service Dropbox may have declined an $800 million acquisition offer from Apple, instead deciding to remain independent and raise its own financing.

A new profile of Dropbox appearing as the cover story for a forthcoming issue of Forbes reveals that Apple did indeed pursue Dropbox, with Steve Jobs personally meeting with Dropbox founders Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi amid the possibility of a "nine-digit" deal.

“I mean, Steve friggin’ Jobs,” remembers Houston, now 28. “How do you even prepare for that?” When Houston whipped out his laptop for a demo, Jobs, in his signature jeans and black turtleneck, coolly waved him away: “I know what you do.”

As Jobs made his pitch for Dropbox, Houston cut things short, telling Jobs that Dropbox was not interested in being acquired.

Jobs smiled warmly as he told them he was going after their market. “He said we were a feature, not a product,” says Houston. Courteously, Jobs spent the next half hour waxing on over tea about his return to Apple, and why not to trust investors, as the duo—or more accurately, Houston, who plays Penn to Ferdowsi’s mute Teller—peppered him with questions.


Jobs reportedly attempted to follow up with Dropbox after the initial meeting, suggesting a second meeting at Dropbox's headquarters. But when Houston said that he preferred to meet elsewhere, so as to not give Jobs personal insight into Dropbox's operations, Jobs went silent. Apple of course introduced iCloud, its own syncing solution, earlier this year and went live with the service just last week.

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Top Rated Comments

dagamer34 Avatar
164 months ago
I don't know if acquisition would've been a good thing or a bad thing... but I do know that iCloud's ultimate success will mean ultimate failure for Dropbox.

Apple's vision is a 'fileless' solution, where you simply trust that all your data is 'there' somewhere. Dropbox is all about files on a filesystem. I personally like the idea of knowing where exactly my files are (and knowing that I have a copy on my local filesystem), so Dropbox is perfect for me (has been for a few years now).

However, I know many people who just type up a document and take pictures, and could care less how they're stored, whether they're backed up four times, and how to get to them—as long as they can.

I wonder, though, why Apple wanted to buy Dropbox... was it more of a goodwill gesture? iCloud seems to not really need Dropbox's particular functionality. Maybe the syncing skillset and talent.

Doubtful. The real reason why Dropbox is super successful is that its platform agnostic: Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, Windows Phone, etc... Apple would have taken that company, sucked it up, discontinued all clients and probably just come out with the same version of iCloud today. Remember they rarely buy companies for their actual product but for their talent.

Don't forget that not everyone uses all Apple devices, and iCloud is still rather neutered on Windows compared to what it can do in OS X. It only has access to photo stream and nothing else; no app data.
Score: 51 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Stella Avatar
164 months ago
DropBox will continue on regardless of iCloud. Why? With drop box you can load any type of file you want. iCloud is limited - applications have to explicity support iCloud.

There are more potential users for Dropbox than iCloud, so I don't see why iCloud determines Dropbox's future. iCloud is far less flexible.


I don't know if acquisition would've been a
good thing or a bad thing... but I do know that iCloud's ultimate success will mean ultimate failure for Dropbox.

Apple's vision is a 'fileless' solution, where you simply trust that all your data is 'there' somewhere. Dropbox is all about files on a filesystem. I personally like the idea of knowing where exactly my files are (and knowing that I have a copy on my local filesystem), so Dropbox is perfect for me (has been for a few years now).

However, I know many people who just type up a document and take pictures, and could care less how they're stored, whether they're backed up four times, and how to get to them—as long as they can.

I wonder, though, why Apple wanted to buy Dropbox... was it more of a goodwill gesture? iCloud seems to not really need Dropbox's particular functionality. Maybe the syncing skillset and talent.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
chaosbunny Avatar
164 months ago
They could have taken the money and lived happily ever after. That they chose not to but stick with the company they created somehow makes me admire them.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
benpatient Avatar
164 months ago
iCloud is so mac-focused and mac-limited in a way that dropbox has never been, that I just don't see how iCloud can realistically "kill" dropbox.

I use dropbox every day. I take it for granted. When I sit down at someone else's computer, i notice that my dropbox accounts aren't there pretty much right away.

I've got drop box on my macs, my android phones, and my pc.

Apple's solution wants me to buy an iphone and remove all options and choice from my world completely.

But what is the icloud analog to having a customer send you production files via a shared dropbox folder, which then syncs to your phone and your laptop and your work computer automatically? There isn't one. dropbox does this intelligently and seamlessly and QUICKLY. Apple is too worried about keeping everyone in their universe, and most people aren't in their universe to begin with, so the market for dropbox is bigger just from the get-go.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
*LTD* Avatar
164 months ago
John Cusack owns Dropbox? :eek:
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Kid A Avatar
164 months ago
bad move by dropbox,

iCloud is now competition and will beat it

why should you be interested in dropbox after iCloud release?

I'm interested in Dropbox precisely BECAUSE of the iCloud release.
After iCloud was announced, and no iDisk replacement was announced, I immediately signed up for DropBox. Umm, they're kinda not the same service at all. :rolleyes:
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)