The plan was to take a break from focusing on the questionable solutions brought to users by Dropbox, though recent happenings with the cloud misnomer are making it difficult for us to hold our tongues. It seems that the 256 million dollars in funding that Dropbox has already received is just not enough; as CEO Drew Houston announces goals to raise yet another 250 million from interested investors.
Hearing news of Dropbox’s approaching fundraising venture forces us to beg the question: what have they done with the first $250 million? In the two years since they raised the first monstrous contribution, Dropbox has done a great deal in expanding their social networking presence and reeling in consumer users. It appears obvious, however, that in recent months the Dropbox team has finally decided to address their reportedly inadequate business solution (see our Dropbox reference page). As a result, Houston claims that the additional funding will assist the company in providing features that companies need to run their businesses.
What seems to be upsetting Dropbox users (especially business users) more than anything are the business initiatives that were supposed to be addressed with the first round of funding. How can users trust the money will go to advancing weak areas of their technology and not towards more multi-million dollar social media promotions? Just a few days before anyone heard about this new funding, Dropbox announced [limited] details about their developing business offerings. Their press release touts that their business model is designed by “connecting your personal Dropbox to your Dropbox for Business account.” There are many other problems with this design, but our biggest bone to pick is the absolute mess Dropbox has created in “connecting” personal and business accounts all-together:
Integrating business and personal so you don’t have to keep two separate account details is a smart idea; which is why DriveHQ has been using such a system for the past decade. However, with the Dropbox personal accounts now being rendered under business plans, users are finding that there are impossible restrictions on the user management side. For example, if a manager shares a folder with an employee who is later terminated, the connection with a personal account will make it impossible for the employer to unshare the folder. It goes without saying that this is a security nightmare for businesses that are housing sensitive information. The control permitted on personal accounts with Dropbox also disables the group admin from selective sharing to specific users (i.e. an admin cannot choose to share only a handful of files in a folder; all or none).
One line that grabbed the attention of us at DriveHQ is the New York Times claim that “at $795 a year for five employees, and $125 for each additional employee, the [Dropbox Business] service is around the midprice of similar online storage services.” I’m sorry, do you mind running that one past us again? $125/user/year is around the midprice of similar online storage? On the contrary, Dropbox business pricing is among the highest in the cloud industry (compared with $15/user /year for Carbonite and $6/user/year for DriveHQ); though the consumer plans continue to be among the most competitive. It would be interesting to see which providers were taken into consideration before deeming Dropbox a “midpriced” player (because we can’t name one).
Dropbox claims that they “can succeed by becoming a one-stop shop for users’ online storage needs, and that with time, its business will grow because customers will not want to move documents to a new platform.” There are problems with this statement; the first of which being that claiming a “one-stop shop for online storage” is amusingly limiting, and in many ways no different to what they currently are. In other words, Dropbox users will still need to look elsewhere for online backup, FTP/email/web hosting, or any other advanced cloud features that go beyond storage. So exactly how do your plans to become a “one-stop shop for online storage” differ from simply being an online storage provider? DriveHQ, on the other hand, has been a one-stop shop for all cloud IT needs (yes that includes storage) since the time before Dropbox.