Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Dropbox: The Inside Story Of Tech's Hottest Startup

I have a Dropbox account but I rarely use it. I am one of those Google groupies that has his life dictated by almost every single one of its products. Yes, the person who sends me email the most is myself. That is just how I store my stuff. But here is the story of Dropbox and why they are one of the hottest startups now:
Dropbox: The Inside Story Of Tech's Hottest Startup - Forbes: "In December 2009 Jobs beckoned Houston (pronounced like the New York City street, not the Texas city) and his partner, Arash Ferdowsi, for a meeting at his Cupertino office. “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.”"
Maybe I wouldn't consider them a success yet, but I think they are not very far from it. But the story of Dropbox struck a little chord with me in exemplifying what it takes to achieve "success":
Houston and Ferdowsi spent the next year pulling all-nighters. They were perfectionists. One time Houston had to track down a copy of Windows XP for Sweden because it had a unique coding quirk that was stalling Dropbox slightly. Ferdowsi had a designer spend hours tweaking the shade of Dropbox’s button inside the file system on a Mac. It was a touch darker than the Apple buttons, and it drove him “crazy” for weeks. “I am the gatekeeper here,” says Ferdowsi. “Everything has to be just so.” 
Dropbox stayed lean, which enabled it to sail through the meltdown. In 2008 it had nine employees and 200,000 customers. Two and a half years later it had added five workers. Users rose tenfold. 
Houston and Ferdowsi moved offices again and often just slept at work. They were getting every customer service e-mail and ignoring messages from their VCs. They toyed with advertising. “That’s what you’re supposed to do: hire a marketing guy, buy Google AdWords,” says Houston. “We sucked at it.” It was costing them $300 to hook one sign-up. Their challenge was marketing a product to solve a problem people didn’t realize they had and weren’t searching for. Ferdowsi from the start insisted Dropbox’s home page be a simple stick-figure video showing what the product does. No table of features and pricing; instead, a story about a guy who loses stuff and goes on a trip to Africa.
Basically, it is just as Steve Jobs had said so many years ago at the Stanford commencement:
You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.