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Mailbox Is Joining Dropbox (mailboxapp.com)
389 points by samps 1735 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 142 comments


I really do hope that they progress on the path they started instead of just acquiring mailbox for the talent. I know they said that they would but thats what we heard about Sparrow when they were bought by Google and the results sucked.

Good luck to everyone on the mailbox team, I love your product, please don't kill it.

Did you not RTFA?

> " To be clear, Mailbox is not going away. The product needs to grow fast, and we believe that joining Dropbox is the best way to make that happen. Plus, imagine what cool things you could do if your Mailbox was connected to your Dropbox…"

To be frank, it's really hard to believe that. They're being acquired, it isn't up to them anymore what happens to Mailbox. They signed the keys away to Drew Houston and the management team at Dropbox. Mailbox dies the moment Drew decides to kill it.

it's not going anywhere :)

(actually, come work on it: https://www.dropbox.com/jobs :))

Slight aside...

Every time someone here responds when their name is mentioned, I think of this scene from "Annie Hall":

Alvy Singer: [the man behind him in line is talking loudly] What I wouldn't give for a large sock with horse manure in it!

Alvy Singer: [to audience] Whaddya do when you get stuck in a movie line with a guy like this behind you?

Man in Theatre Line: Wait a minute, why can't I give my opinion? It's a free country!

Alvy Singer: He can give it... do you have to give it so loud? I mean, aren't you ashamed to pontificate like that? And the funny part of it is, Marshall McLuhan, you don't know anything about Marshall McLuhan!

Man in Theatre Line: Oh, really? Well, it just so happens I teach a class at Columbia called "TV, Media and Culture." So I think my insights into Mr. McLuhan, well, have a great deal of validity!

Alvy Singer: Oh, do ya? Well, that's funny, because I happen to have Mr. McLuhan right here, so, so, yeah, just let me...

[pulls McLuhan out from behind a nearby poster]

Alvy Singer: come over here for a second... tell him!

Marshall McLuhan: I heard what you were saying! You know nothing of my work! You mean my whole fallacy is wrong. How you got to teach a course in anything is totally amazing!

Alvy Singer: Boy, if life were only like this!

(Sometimes it is here at Hacker News.)

Might as well share a link to the clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpIYz8tfGjY?t=1m44s

By the way, I'm Woody Allen.

> watch?v=OpIYz8tfGjY?t=1m44s

Hmm, I don't think that feature works like that. Try watch?v=OpIYz8tfGjY#t=1m44s

Right you are. Weird, '?t=' is straight from the share tab on the YouTube page.

You can use # or & but not ? because that denotes the start of the query string.

I'm aware, I copy pasted the link from YouTube without looking at it. Probably a bug.

This is what is said LITERALLY EVERY SINGLE TIME a company is acquired -- right along with "nothing is changing" and we'll "continue to operate with the vision that made us attractive to $acquirer in the first place"

Without a more clear rationale for why things won't change, it's pretty reasonable to assume that the product is at risk no matter what you say. The fact is, almost regardless of your intentions, your organization is going to put its thumbprint on the product.

What that means is unclear to external customers, and is also often unclear internally. If you do know what your plans are for it internally, you're still probably not going to say (though I'd love to be wrong).

Are you sure you're being LITERAL? I certainly remember some google acquisitions where it was stated straight up that the product would be discontinued in the initial press release.


I would like to introduce you to my friend, rhetorical hyperbole: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperbole

It's not actually the case that every single acquisition in the world involves public platitudes about the continuance of management, the product, culture, office location, or lunch room perks.

Just a literally a metric ton of them.

Here's my chief gripe with using hyperbole and "literally" - If the word "literally" can be used non-literally, in a hyperbole or a metaphor, then it stops serving its purpose of marking a sentence as being literal. Then, when a sentence permits metaphoric and literal interpretations and you stick "literally" in it, nothing changes - it can still be either metaphoric or literal. The only solution I see is using "really literally" to mean that your sentence isn't metaphoric. Until people start using "really literally" in a metaphoric way. I virtually really literally actually in fact don't want to see that happen.

P.S. Use "practically" instead.

Merriam Webster and the Oxford English Dictionary already accept the use of "literally" to mean "virtually" in informal contexts. It's a losing battle.



- I'm quite upset about my favourite company being acquired and the risk of losing my app.

- hey look, Drew Houston disguised as Woody Allen

- what? Really? Or figuratively ?

- Both, but I will literally explode if another negative comment gets upvoted

... [Hamlet music plays as man lights cigar (UK only)]


I thought I would never have a chance to do this, but ironically:


Now if you were to acquire 49% of Mailbox, I might believe that. But you must understand our doubts -- it feels like every single time a giant company acquires a useful little startup, the users eventually (and often sooner than later) get burned by it.

I'm open to your Mailbox acquisition being the exception to this trend, but I hope you understand my healthy skepticism.

Only in the startup world is Dropbox considered a "giant company."

Any company with hundreds of employees doing hundreds of millions in revenue is a "giant company".

As he said, "On(ly) in the startup world . . . " In the rest of the business world, that would be a decent mid-size company.

According to http://www.census.gov/econ/smallbus.html, less than 1% of all businesses have more than 100 employees.

That doesn't really strike me as relevant? Many "businesses" are one or two people. Obviously "giant" is subjective but considering the largest companies are a few orders of magnitude bigger, I maintain what I said earlier: Only people who are immersed in the startup world consider Dropbox a "giant" company.

Despite having 100 employees, I wouldn't consider a chain of car washes with 20 locations and 5 people at each location to be a giant company.

Just to add some objectivity to the debate, in France, between 250 and 4999 employees a company is considered to be an "intermediate size company" (as long as the revenue is below 1.5 G€).

I don't know the American standard, but I'd be surprised if it isn't similar.

Source: http://www.insee.fr/fr/methodes/default.asp?page=definitions...

Do you guys hire student interns? (Internationally - Canadian here)

This is why I love HN. Straight from the boss.

That is cool. I was very surprised to see so many legal positions open and very happy to find one of interest.

I just hope the boss will understand working on my start-up in my off time is important :)

Thanks! I've been enjoying Mailbox and am looking forward to seeing where y'all take it.

This is reassuring/relieving.

I can't help but wonder how you're planning to make money with a product you plan to give away for free forever.

What happens when Dropbox is acquired?

Dropbox is not getting acquired at this point ($5B+ val), they will go public.

man, I wish you guys were looking for a front-end developer! :D

I did read the article. However we have heard things like that before so I'm a bit wary that 6 months down the line DB isn't going to reconsider and kill the mailbox platform.

No, they were pretty up front that Sparrow was a talent acquisition. They said that the product would continue to exist but they weren't going to update it and they were going to work on new projects at Google.

Talent acquired and squandered. Google has no decent mail app on iOS.

Pretty subjective. I find Gmail the most pleasant mail app to use on my iPad.

I like it, but its treatment of multiple mail accounts is crappy compared to sparrow (no unified inbox).

The Gmail app is slick, but extremely slow for me (on iPhone 5), as in "it's really annoying every time I use this app but I've moved away from native Mail and inertia is a hell of a thing." Other people I've talked to have had similar experiences. I'm excited to try Mailbox.

No unified inbox, etc.

you can't be serious, it's the beginnings of something good, but it has all kinds of problems, it fails to load email often (reporting "something has gone wrong.."), it routinely doesn't clear the red read indicator, it's laggy and sluggish. I am sure Google will make it kickass in the fullness of time, but for now, that's not what gmail/iOS is.

Unread indicator is always wrong, especially when you use multiple devices. Seems very I characteristic of google. It's been that way since they released the app.

Agreed. I dumped the native mail client.

The latest Gmail app is pretty nice.

Sparrow mentions should come with a trigger warning.

Money straight out the window. Ungh.

I'm still using Sparrow on my mac. It works great.

What was it, like $10? It still works to this day. Not a bad deal in my book even if they never update it again. It generally "just works."

I am shocked, SHOCKED, to find this as the top comment on Hacker News. /s

Sparrow did try some Dropbox integration (and it worked pretty reasonably), so I suspect Dropbox wants to really nail that this time around.

I haven't tried the app (no iPhone). Can someone explain to me why the Mailbox app is so great? From the intro video, I see a typical email app with a couple of extra gestures thrown in.

Like Sparrow, it seems it's more marketing and hype than a radical upgrade to the email experience.

I never even got to try it! I've been waiting in line for a week.

Beyond all of the complicated integration/feature scenarios people are proposing, what shouldn't be forgotten is the fact that email is the primary way most people send and receive files. Combine that with mobile fast becoming the primary computing device for most people, and you have an extremely sensible acquisition.

Well said. Pretty easy way for all files you receive to immediately be in your Dropbox, and for Dropbox to either

a. launch an email service that runs off the space in your dropbox, or b. automatically create dropbox folders shared between all recipients of an attachment and automatically set permissions.

Step 0: get all of these people to use Dropbox as their email client

I', #538,902 on this waiting list so its working.

Do we need this with Gmail?

I can already use google's Drive storage for email attachments and attach a reference to the file.

Try sending someone any of the dozen different filetypes gmail has blacklisted sometime. They even peer into your archive files!

Maybe GDrive lets you store those formats, but I've never had GMail offer that as an alternative. It just stops me from sending executables around even though that is an integral part of what I do.

Well noted.

If you try attaching any file above 30 MB in GMail, it prompts you to send it "via Google Drive" instead, and automatically uploads it there.

Indeed, but of course email typically has a limit on the size of the file you can attach (for good reason).

In Outlook.com (was Hotmail), you can send a large file by sending a link to a file in SkyDrive. You don't have to upload the file to SkyDrive first; it's just an extension to the "attach file" feature within Outlook.com.

GMail has a similar integration with GDrive.

Agreed. Sparrow's upload via Dropbox instead of attachment feature is also really useful, so it seems like a perfect fit.

Wait. Did we just see a company who still has a waiting list get acquired? Well done.

Yeah I signed on at about 900k in front of me in the queue... now that company has been acquired and I've STILL got 180k people in front of me.

Good lord.

Haha I was thinking the same thing.. I had 700k when I got in line, still have 375k ahead..

Hopefully the acquisition by Dropbox speeds up the line, maybe?

I had to wait about a week to use it.

I used it once, realized it turns my inbox into a todo app, and uninstalled it.

Argh, I hope I'm not waiting in line for the same experience.. :-)

I'm still curious to see if I like it (I am an inbox-zero person), so I'll stick it out.. But yeah, I've been in line for 3 weeks now or so, I think...

That's one way to jump the queue...

yeah, I actually checked to see if they still had a queue, they do, pretty insane.. slighly relevant onion: http://www.theonion.com/articles/new-social-media-startup-la...

I love the promise of the internet. Nimble upstarts competing on a level playing field with huge corporations. A decentralized market without physical agency. More owners and more competition.

Then I read about stuff like this.

Well, Dropbox itself is competing "on a level playing field with huge corporations". See: competition from Google Drive, Apple iCloud, Microsoft SkyDrive, and so on. All companies with comparatively huge amounts of resources.

After that forum post where the user claimed Dropbox had leaked their email to spammers, I have severe reservations about giving them the actual credentials to my email account, whether or not the allegations were correct.

A possible first step towards matching the broad ecosystem of their new chief competitors, Google Drive and Microsoft Skydrive. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see them acquire an office app suite next.

There are so many options once Dropbox can theoritcally be accessed through an inbox interface...

Mailbox could be a first step to competing with Messages/gChat. Instead of rolling out their own email, Dropbox can be another type of account Mailbox works with to send pictures, videos, files over data rather than texting or emailing. An odd feature to roll out without acquiring a popular product, but making Dropbox the goto rather than the link attached to something else.

Why should Dropbox have a message client (or email client). I fail to see how they are connected. I feel the same about Twitter launching a music service.

There used to be the joke that every software expands until it can read mail. Nowadays I think we need a new saying. Every software company expands until... it has rebuilt every other software product (not as catchy).

Not messaging per-se exactly, but making Dropbox an account that could be accessed through Mailbox. The standalone messaging without sending a file as well is just a wacky idea of a different direction Dropbox could decide to take things.

How about:

"Every software company expands until it has implemented half of Emacs."

Sort of a product-centric version of Greenspun's rule.

Are there any viable competitors to Google Docs err Drive and MS Office? Office is the feature powerhouse and Drive is lean and fast service, I haven't seen anything that can be acquired around!

I don't find Drive to be particularly lean/fast -- it's been easier for me and my peers to work on content/formatting on Word than email it; Drive's lack of features is certainly not a proxy for being lightweight.

Drive's killer feature, though, is collaboration.

There's Zoho, but it's big enough to where it probably won't accept an acquisition.

"This means not only continuing to scale the service, but also including support for more email providers and mobile devices."

Please, please let this mean that they plan on supporting EAS. Migrating to Google Apps for Business in not an option for me, and everyone and his brother is building fancy IMAP-only email clients, while I'm stuck with the default mail client on my iPhone. I love Mailbox's interface, but I barely get a chance to use it, as my primary email address that 99% of my email goes through is on Outlook.com-hosted email.

The biggest problem with Exchange Active Sync is that to implement it you have to pay a licensing fee to Microsoft. For a lot of smaller developers that simply isn't an option, especially for something they are giving away for free or for a very low price.

Also, EAS is proprietary, whereas IMAP is open. Outlook.com should simply add IMAP support.

Check out Davmail -- http://davmail.sourceforge.net/ -- turns Exchange into standards.

Second that, although I never got anything but the mail to work (no contacts, cal, tasks) and since evolution is a piece of crap (at least the version that comes with FC 18) I had to use thunderbird which doesn't have cal. But it's still worth it!

For everyone thinking Mailbox is getting Sparrowfied, there's good news:

To be clear, Mailbox is not going away. The product needs to grow fast, and we believe that joining Dropbox is the best way to make that happen. Plus, imagine what cool things you could do if your Mailbox was connected to your Dropbox.

I'm so glad that Mailbox is going to stay alive. It has been just one month since I removed Sparrow and started using Mailbox mostly.

Was not the same thing said about Sparrow?

No, Google said Sparrow would remain available but not be updated.

No it wasn't.

This is a very clever move by Dropbox.

I've actually been somewhat hoping Dropbox would venture into email. Their service has been reliable for me for years, and it'd be nice to have a decent Gmail competitor at last.


My outsider view: they are going to build a full-fledged productivity suite. They have the storage, versioning, you can view files/docs and now you have an email client. The "obvious" next move would be getting into the online document editing space. But then, this is me just speculating from the sidelines.

They have to a lot to prove; Dropbox's patchy security record is now coupled with Mailbox's completely unproven security.

Mailbox uses Google's Gmail OAuth...

why? do you see huge overlap between file syncing/storage and mobile email?

If you look at their foray into photos and the way they talk about their service now, Dropbox is becoming a lifestyle brand focused on your personal data.

Meanwhile, the mobile e-mail client that the Mailbox team built is so cool that it convinced about a million people to let Mailbox store a full copy of their e-mail archive ... in 10 weeks.

That kind of strategic value means it's smart for them to swoop the product and team up RIGHT NOW, even if they had to pay a premium to do it.

I don't know about "very clever", but if you look at Dropbox as moving towards an iCloud-like service where its more than just data, it make sense. But it sounds a lot like a talent acquisition that comes with a nice mail app that probably has some similar technical challenges to the things Dropbox already does well. Seems like a good way to kickstart a Dropbox email platform.

I think that Dropbox wants to be the company on the internet where your stuff "is" and email is probably part of that.

I feel like any communications app, especially e-mail related, that's trying to label itself as "modern" needs to include some support for crypto as a requirement. I hope the Dropbox people push for things like that from Mailbox, given their past security problems.

> Not sure if the acquisition makes strategic sense for Dropbox

I do - Dropbox isn't and doesn't want to be just a dumb, syncable file store. First your photos, now your email.

It's hilariously easy to skip the line and gain access to the "velvet room" as it is described in this application's plist file. You can even do this entirely on a non-jailbroken device. Tokenless system based entirely on local authentication.

Checkout the preferences plist under the application folder on your local device.

I hope this means that an Android app will be released too. Not that the gmail app is bad.

I'm glad it's not Google, Apple or Microsoft.

Here's to a stronger Dropbox and a long-life for Mailbox!

"The product needs to grow fast, and we believe that joining Dropbox is the best way to make that happen. "

Why not do a funding round?

As opposed to a funding round, this approach is advantageous:

Financially --

- Cash out the existing (presumably closely-held) equity holders with 100% of deal proceeds.

"Existentially" --

Reduce execution risk by getting the team access to:

- Existing battle-tested deployment infrastructure (& devops)

- Existing pool of engineers that can be assigned to the project, and who are familiar with the infrastructure

- HR, facilities, logistics, support, etc...

Well look at the alternatives:

(1) join dropbox, probably for a pretty penny with stock options that will probably look very nice when Dropbox goes public -- fuel further growth and integration with Dropbox with even more significant resources at your disposal (including HIRING really good engineers a la "come work for Dropbox!")

(2) stay as a high-risk start-up with no revenue, no tested plans of monetization with huge problems of scale (due to its rapid growth) and create a funding round which liquidates your ownership stake significantly, puts you @ the mercy of some risk averse VC's and limits your exit options (depending upon valuation)

I love the product, but I have to admit this (1) would be my choice as well

Seems like Dropbox is ideally suited to do it from a financial and a technology stand-point.

They did in November 2011. $5 million round: http://www.crunchbase.com/company/orchestra

Regardless the reasons they sell themselves. But I still think it's a good idea to join Dropbox since they are really open and they love to create good product instead of trying to get money.

I hope mailbox having the right place to continue growing as a good product.

Furthermore: I love the current startup markets, so many awesome products. But still there are bunch of craps which have new and fancy interfaces but nothing inside. Rather joining the big and create big thing together :)

So... Google got Sparrow, Dropbox got Mailbox...

Now that leaves Apple and MS...

I have one hell of a startup app idea. Anybody out there good with objective-c?

I don't think Microsoft needs help making a mail application.

Maybe not. Their WP8 mail app is quite nice.

Congrats Gentry and team!! If you'd like Gmail + Dropbox attachment management now, just use Attachments.me iPhone app https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/attachments.me-for-gmail-ema...

Google killed sparrow because Gmail is better than sparrow Google din't kill YouTube because YouTube is better than Google videos. Facebook dint kill instagram.

So,I think Dropbox has just acquire mailbox not for killing it but to enter a different domain.

Not sure if the acquisition makes strategic sense for Dropbox, but at least I have some confidence that Mailbox wouldn't simply disappear: Dropbox core product has a freemium model, and they are very successful company.

It makes sense if they want to compete with Gmail by integrating dropbox and mailbox; providing an alternative to Google Drive.

Getting a monopoly on the 'box'. Actually, I'd say a startup being acquired by a small company like Dropbox is a better outcome than a startup being consumed into the monolithic companies like Apple or Google.

Mailbox, the app I've yet to use gets acquired.

How can an app like Mailbox make you mad? Here is how: I'm still waiting in the queue for over a month now to even try the app. Scarcity is the mental mind hack used to increase demand (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Cialdini)...but for me personally its backfired. If Dropbox's resources can help here, I'm all for it. Good luck.

Also, a note to mailbox web designer, try adding more contrast to your text so I can actually read it.

Acquired before I've even got my invite! :) Still another 276,000 people in front of me. I really hope Dropbox keeps it around (and from the comments that seems to be the case).

Android fans take note of how their app is iPhone only at the moment. This is important. In every flamewar people argue that Android is the same essentially as iPhone or better, but there are two HUGE gaps

1. iOS gets new apps faster. In this case, Mailbox is iOS 2. Accessories are harder to find for the large gamut of Android-running devices.

(being an Android fan, I have a self-interest in getting companies to release Android apps faster than they currently do)

This is perfect, otherwise I would have to wait in line for another three months to get the app. I don't care who owns it if I can't even use the app.

I use Mailbox. I like it to do the normal, read/archive thingy fast. But for serious mailing, Sparrow still wins. Aside this, it was clearly normal to see them acquired by other grande company.

Mailbox was free. No business model. Their own business model surely was acquisition. Did you thought they were last to the point of an IPO or charging for their service? Me not.

For those who are interested in an alternative service check out Right Inbox. Lets you schedule emails in Gmail, allows tracking emails and setting reminders. http://www.rightinbox.com/

I just read over the features offered by Mailbox, and I don't see anything that I'm not already getting from using Gmail with the Boomerang plugin. Can anyone who is using Mailbox explain its unique benefits?

I was genuinely asking for someone in the community to explain what makes the app unique. I wish that whoever down voted this would have explained his reasoning.

Am I the only one who thinks Dropbox isn't very good? I only seem to see positive comments, and that just doesn't make sense to me.

I'm a premium Dropbox user with multiple terabytes of storage. (We deal with large files that have to be shared among many users widely dispersed.) I've been using it for a while now. When dealing with large files, it's slow, clunky, and restrictive. You have to use the desktop client to upload files of any appreciable size, and then you get zero feedback on the file's progress. I just don't see how $3,500 a year for that is better than the cost of an old-school FTP server.

I'm curious if any of you are in a similar situation but have had a better experience.

It's not good for your use case apparently. Your use case isn't the same as most people's use case. Simple :)

Yeah, I was just kind of curious to hear what other premium users were experiencing. I assume anyone who goes premium has a need like mine. Oh well. Lesson learned: Don't talk smack about a Y Combinator company on Y Combinator. The proprietors have a magical downvote button.

How can this ever be a good fit? MailBoxApp is a radical take on email while DropBox is gunning for the main stream.

Off topic: messages "from the team" on the mailbox website looks like a pre-orchestrated marketing campaign :)

So, do I get to jump the queue now?

Acquihire? Not acquihire? Can't decide, this blog post is decidedly too party spirited.

not acquirehire. pretty clear

>>To be clear, Mailbox is not going away. The product needs to grow fast, and we believe that joining Dropbox is the best way to make that happen. Plus, imagine what cool things you could do if your Mailbox was connected to your Dropbox.

What's going to happen to Orchestra? (The same company is behind Mailbox)

Cloud storage provider wants to do more than cloud storage. WARNING.

what's going to happen to orchestra? i actually use it all the time, almost as much as mailbox -- is this going over to dropbox or will it be gasp deadpooled?

Congratulations guys!

Great news...

How was Mailbox profitable?

Since when did that matter? ;)

I was just wondering. They have a well made product, nice website, but the app is free.

I can see how it would be a good thing between Dropbox's legs but how could it be profitable on its own?

They sell themselves really quick.

Sometimes I wish companies would just focus on what they do well instead of trying to expand forever, wedging themselves into every niche of your life and watering down the utility of their offerings.

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