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Dropbox acquires Hackpad (YC W12) (hackpad.com)
257 points by yukichan on Apr 17, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 149 comments

Just a little side note. I really wish people would give an overview of what their service is or does in press releases like this. Quite often, I see 'Facebook bought x' or 'Dropbox bought y' and I click to see what it is, and if I would want to use it. More often than not, there's no little blurb that lets me know what their product even does.

Agreed... often these sorts of headlines are the first time I've ever heard of "x" or "y". And in many cases, it's probably the biggest publicity hit these companies have ever received.

Except perhaps in the case of an acquihire; if they're going to pull the plug on the service, there's not much point in advertising what you can't have ;)

Could anyone tell me what it is? Even the test drive link on their home page offers no clues without signing up, and the blog isn't responding.

Sort of a hybrid of Google Docs and a wiki. Example from a recent hackathon: https://hackpad.com/Dataset-Wish-List-MeMfcb91BLL

Sold did a good job on this... See "What was Sold?"


Luckily Hackpad isn't going anywhere so you can go ahead and sign up to try it out :)

i would upvote this twice.

It is also really bad when all the links point back to the blog

I think this makes a lot of sense for Dropbox. Documents are moving online, which means people won't need Dropbox for them.

I have a half-written blog post from months ago on why Dropbox should by Quip for this reason - they should be trying to leapfrog Google Docs to stay competitive.

Best of luck to the team!

Box made the Writely founder VP Eng for precisely this reason.

My favorite parts of Hackpad were the features that weren't intended to have mass-market appeal (ex: code syntax highlighting, markdown-inspired keybindings, ability to easily create/delete accounts). These will likely be gone in whatever notes product that Dropbox makes with the help of the (wonderful) Hackpad team.

So for me, this acquisition seems like a loss. I realize that Hackpad has said that they'll keep the site alive, but I expect it to be less functional if everyone maintaining it is a full-time Dropbox employee now. Fingers crossed that there will someday exist a good collaborative doc editor for hackers that doesn't fall over when >10 people connect or require a Google account!

Full disclosure: I have written code and done security auditing for Hackpad. I tried to get them to add vim mode. :)

Have you tried Etherpad? I'm pretty sure it supports both markdown and syntax highlighting.

I'm aware that there's modules you can add to do those things. Are there public instances that have those installed? It's been a while since I used Piratepad et al.

One of those 'no brainer' moves, glad to see it got done. Love the irony of a YC exit as an acquisition by a YC company :-) Congratulations, hackpad is an awesome product and the combination with Dropbox has excellent potential.

> Love the irony of a YC exit as an acquisition by a YC company :-)

Honest question, why is that irony?

Fair question, perhaps recursion? I could imagine an unscrupulous person creating the 'mega-startup-accellerator' and having as its first round a startup they fund which is required to acquire half the startups of each subsequent round. Thus creating the worlds most successful startup accelerator where nearly half the companies are guaranteed to have an "exit".

In this case it is more like having the kids grow up and being successful than anything nefarious. And YC gets to put 'acquired Apr '14' in the box of outcomes.

Acquihires are pretty much the default hiring method these days, so "victory" now requires keeping the product active after acquisition.

A toast, then, to Hackpad. Well done.

Is the human capital pool really that tight in the Valley?

Given that a 2br apartment is $8000/month in some places, yeah.

Am I the only one that immediately sees that as a sign of 'Maybe people should setup satellite offices and stop recruiting in the Valley due to costs'?

Is remote work a viable option?

Where remote work is a viable option, then it's obviously easy to tackle.

Where it isn't, set up shop in a smaller market that isn't the valley and have a separate office. Execs can split-time between the locations if necessary, but standing up an office in Houston, Austin, Atlanta, or wherever, and hiring another manager for that location can pay for itself quickly, considering wage-market discrepancy.

My office is in Mountain View, but I live in Annapolis, MD. We have an office in Georgetown, DC, that's about an hour away from me. I work from home, but have the convenience of the DC office in the event that I need to physically sign papers, get stationery, or whatever, and I fly out to MV for a week every couple of months, or every quarter.

Our company has a services division as well, that is mostly remote (though, remote in that scenario is generally on customer premises), and while sure, we have a need for office in some spots, we most of the time don't, so we oversubscribe desks and such. I think we have 6 desks in the Georgetown office for 20-something employees, and it's extremely rare that they're ever full.

It's not remote if it's a satellite office. Hire 3-6 people, rent a space, slap a sign on the door, it's now "Dropbox Pennsylvania" or whatever.

Is there convincing evidence that such approach works?

There were articles that Google's employees in satellite offices were alienated due to perceived lack of power over decisions, power struggles with the mothership (Mountain View engineers would schedule meetings at a time that's convenient to them, forcing their foreign office to be online at ungodly hours), and project visibility.

SF is really about concluding deals face to face and access for startups. Your main office could be in Costa Rica or Moldavia it doesnt matter(and I have great respect for these countries ), you want to sell a product or VC,it's better to actually have someone in SF, network is everything in business.

Sure, it just takes a certain type of employee. Needs to be someone who values autonomy and is working on things that don't need two guys on a keyword in front of a monitor trying to figure out.

It also requires the right kind of company/manager.

I'm sure for some companies. Personally, I have to deal with too many physical things that require my presence for it to be viable.

Never seems to be.

This is silly. Nobody HAS to live in an $8k/mo 2br. Even here. You probably read that TC article which mentioned some apartments in a complex in Mountainview.

Yes, it's expensive, but no, it's not 8k, it's half that.

Moreover, what on earth would that have to do with acquihires?

The GP's assertion was hyperbole. Acquihires are not the "default hiring method."

> Yes, it's expensive, but no, it's not 8k, it's half that.

That's insane. I can live in a 4,000 sq foot 2 story 3 car garage in a very swank Chicago suburb for that price.


Yeah, it turns out there's a lot more space in suburbs than urban centers.

Point taken. In downtown Chicago, I can get an extremely nice 2000sqft+ 2 bed/2bath luxury condo with 2 parking spaces, and still have money left over at $4K/month.

I still believe SFBA real estate to be insane.

I think a better word than "insane" is "unsustainable." A pet theory of mine is that if the median household salary in a given locality isn't enough to qualify for the median mortgage in the same locality, that locality has a problem. All of San Francisco has that problem and an increasing amount of the area around it does, too. I'm not sure when this will come home to roost, but I'd be surprised if it isn't within the next couple of years. (I also suspect the tolerance for spending three hours a day commuting between SF and the South Bay, even on private buses, will drop as the commuters age, but we'll see.)

There are still places which are considerably cheaper and even still accessible via regional transit like BART, but they're cheaper because they're not considered "interesting" neighborhoods. In another 6-12 months we may see a lot more people deciding the East Bay isn't so bad after all.

Agreed 110%, but I would back up my Hackpad documents now. Claims of being able to sustain a business after acquihire when the parent company has no stated interest in keeping it alive seem extremely fragile.

This is an exceptional deal. The hackpad team is awesome, the product makes sense, and I remember thinking after Box bought Crocodoc, that Hackpad would make sense as part of Dropbox, especially as it went enterprise and started competing with Word, Google Docs etc.

Congrats to the Hackpad team and to Dropbox here. Solid deal.

Hackpad is pretty awesome. Glad it will still be running after the acquisition. Congrats Alex & Igor

Ugh, Etherpad shoulda been copyleft. Hackpad is a travesty for being so non-transparent that they're just a tweak of Etherpad.

I've only seen HackPad and my impression is it was built upon Etherpad. Someone confirm that? I don't want to sign up a new account just to find out.

That was my point. Hackpad is Etherpad and people should use Etherpad more instead and work to improve it so we have better free software.

Why should it be copyleft? If people want to overpay for acquihire teams that add very little value, licensing doesn't seem like the problem.

Congrats Alex and Igore, Hackpad is really impressive. Great move by Dropbox.

What's the state of the opensource alternatives? Etherpad development seems to have plateaued a while ago.

What features are missing in Etherpad for you?

The ones Hackpad added :)

And, raw Etherpad has a lot of usability problems as well. Plus it's challenging to integrate it with an outside authentication mechanism.

I've looked at the code some and while on the one hand this could all be added, it's a clunky base. Node's come a long way since etherpad lite started.

Hackpad is an Etherpad fork, so you might conclude that someone has already done the work of wrangling Etherpade code and making those patches. ;)

Very true! It's not like it defies the laws of physics ... but, it also shows how much effort is needed to get to something with hackpad's usability on the etherpad core: years worth of work from very smart devs.

If collaborative editing were the main focus of what I was working on, I'd say "yay, market opportunity!" But as it is, I just want to be able to plug in (and contribute to) a good open-source option. Which may wind up being Etherpad, but I'd like to do better ...

maybe the hackpad creators will open-source and/or release upstream patches to etherpad! cough

Could not find any overview of what features hackpad adds exactly (besides requiring a login). Has anyone made an overview?

The "How to use Hackpad" page has an overview [1] -- unfortunately it's not responding right now :|

For me, three big ones are the checklists, @'s to refer to people and pads, and the much better display of who's changed things.

[1] https://hackpad.com/How-to-use-Hackpad-mlZvEsJykI5

I also don't see anything new or special about hackpad from Etherpad. Is it simply valuable because it has a user base? How is it that a startup built on open source product is more valuable just by having more users? I fail to see anything special about Hackpad.

We love Hackpad at Rollbar. Congrats guys, keep up the good work!

Please don't shut it down, like Readmill. I use Hackpad daily, and I'd hate to see it go by the way of Readmill and shoved down the toilet.

DropBox looks like the company that walks on four legs, then two, then three. First, it was just a smart choice to replace emailing yourself files. Pretty soon, it will be an IBM, where some sales guy will convince your boss that the DropBox Q1000 is what your business needs for synergy and you'll end up having to use it.

This is how it was always going to go.

Dropbox's core business is unsustainable, and they can't compete long-term with rivals like Google and Apple.

They're flailing in all directions at the moment; pushing for the enterprise/government market with the appointment of Condoleezza Rice, now burning a load of money acquiring businesses offering tangential services, in the hope they can diversify their business model.

It won't work. Acquisitions like this never go to plan, and they are almost always a waste of money.

I agree and disagree; file sharing alone was never going to be "enough". But even Search wasn't enough for Google; it's not wrong for companies to expand their offerings.

In the case of Dropbox, they need to go head-to-head with the Drive/Docs/Apps provision coming from Google. They're not as well-positioned to do that as they could be, and I'm not sure hackpad will be close to sufficient to get them there. But it's certainly a step in the right direction; documents are moving off the hard drive entirely, and there's no reason Dropbox can't help with the move to the cloud by expanding their offerings with moves exactly like this one.

The difference is that Search was enough to sustain Google and still is its cash cow. They branched out due to interest, not out of necessity. Dropbox's current business will not sustain and they NEED these acquisitions to find viable business models for the long haul.

What I don't understand about these acquisitions is how tangential it is to Dropbox's original value prop of being a "dumb" folder that would magically sync all of your files and stay out of your way. Now, instead of Dropbox passively running in the background and letting me do my thing, they want me to start actively engaging with the software.

I agree that it's necessary and overall a smart move, but still a very large and difficult pivot to make.

Advertising I'd their cash cow. Google's original business model was enterprise search. It took them a bit of time to land on their current business model m

I think many people forget that Google wasn't really sure how to make money until they completely changed online advertising with AdWords/AdSense. Everyone else was content with your standard banner ads and rates. Google made those relevant to the search context. Since that time they have made money hand over fist.

> They need to go head-to-head with the Drive/Docs/Apps provision coming from Google

If that's really the play, Hackpad isn't the right acquisition. The real value is in the sheets/excel space, and the knowledge of collaborative document editing doesn't naturally translate to spreadsheets (the general nature of edits are not linear)

Smiled when I saw your username. Looks like great work you guys are doing, hope you're able to help them out.

Is there anyone seriously pursuing the space? There's ethercalc but they don't seem to have much steam ...

"They" is just me and our wonderful & kind contributors. :)

EtherCalc was, is, and will remain a F/OSS infrastructure project, not a business enterprise.

I'd consider Smartsheet.com to be playing in that space.

Your point is very true - plan 1 may not be monetizable, but a large user base with a lot of data can open other doors. Facebook is another example - it was never going to just monetize people poking each other with sheep.

    But even Search wasn't enough for Google; it's not wrong 
    for companies to expand their offerings.
Google has made billions consistently from it's advertising operation. Their shift to other areas have always driven to expand search.

I still don't get why DB hasn't come up with a business model to let people just self-host content out of their accounts. They basically offer an instant web-server experience for non-tech folks, but they cap bandwidth for downloads.

- How awesome would it be if I could dump a bunch of mp3 files and an html page or index file or something, get a URL from the service and suddenly my band has a website. Then if I go to www.dropbox.com under some "music" category see my band listed there next to a bunch of other bands. Voila, instant promotion. Now the entire independent music industry has a promotion venue. Setup some kind of friendly payment processor and now bands can sell their music direct. (and oh yeah, you get automagic copyright protection since they can scan all other user's accounts for illegal copies of your music).

- How about letting my Dad dump some word documents in a folder called Chapter 01.docx Chapter 02.docx etc. get a URL and people can come check out his book's site with automatic conversion to various ebook formats (and a payment processor to handle the transactions)?

- Or in my "podcasts" directory dump an mp3 of my latest podcast and have it automatically publish out to iTunes and various other podcast search engines?

- Completely annihilate flickr and other services by letting me dump a bunch of photos into a folder, get an admin URL so I can type up descriptions and other metadata (and geolocate stuff on a map) and a publish URL to give out to people. Let me do that with with both a personal folder and a "pro" folder. Let people go to my publish URL and buy photos from me (auto watermarked by DB) or partner with a photo print service so people can buy prints at various sizes.

the list goes on and on and on and I'd bet people would pay a little money to be able to do some of this. It seems so obvious and the little bit that DB supports (like photo albums) is so lackluster its almost not worth using. It would get people to start filling their spaces up with stuff further upselling them on the need to buy more space. With a little finagling they could even wrap a social network on top of all this content and back door into Facebook's space.

I just don't get it.

Their other acquisition today - Loom - is on the annihilate Flickr path.

I must say I do like your auto monetization angle though. If carousel is anything to go by, their 'we build UX ontop of your content' execution is so far a bit meh.

Trouble is, as Twitter showed, there's no long term joy in building a competitor to a service using its API.

Well they had/have a huge opportunity to start an entire series of cottage industries like this but have completely failed to grab onto the idea. It seems like a pretty obvious extension of the "put a bunch of files in the cloud and sync" notion to me. After all, what's an app server but a bunch of program files stuck on a server drive?

Twitter is still free — Dropbox makes money of those who use it the most.

"I just don't get it."

Timing (sometimes) matters. [1]

It is entirely possible that they might actually have offerings like this planned but prefer to offer them either later or in stages in order to keep up some type of growth that investors expect.

Similarly it's common in some types of businesses to hold off booking sales until a later time period if recent revenue is "good enough" for a particular purpose.

That way you can continue to grow and not, for example, "shoot your load" all at one time.

Of course I have no clue as to why what you suggest is not being offered (independent of whether it is actually a good idea or not). But in business there are definitely reasons not to offer all the things you can do just because you can.

(And of course there could be a slew of other reasons as well, I'm just offering one perspective.)

[1] Another example might be (happened frequently in "olden times") rolling out software features not all at once so customers have a reason to buy a later version of the product.

It's not always about stable growth, either. Sometimes you need to drip feed your customers new tech and possibilities lest you spook them with weird and wonderful things that they were not expecting (with the negative consequence that they no longer understand you and jump ship to 'simpler' options).

"that they no longer understand you and jump ship to 'simpler' options"

Exactly. And both tech people and people with the ability to understand these incremental changes are not in a position to know what amounts to "to much" which can be a problem. Because they might have higher level abilities or they are just processing the incremental features which are relatively easy.

I remember at a company that I owned constantly adding new machinery. I could understand it on delivery same day. Employees who had to operate it couldn't. So I ended up with a bunch of machines that also when new employees were hired were tied together in a very complicated fashion. It caused many problems and complicated the process and offerings.

(Thanks for reminding me of this I had forgotten that point.)

They've always viewed themselves as a platform with rich APIs, what you're describing is applications built on top of that platform.

With that said, recent releases (Carousel, Mailbox) point that due to the dearth of applications built on top of Dropbox they're bootstrapping the application layer themselves.

Dropbox is good at what they do. What you're describing is already served by an ecosystem of sites, which can be connected with, for example, If This Then That (http://ifttt.com) . And you can host static sites from Dropbox in various ways: http://www.maketecheasier.com/4-ways-to-host-your-website-on....

This is true, static hosting is served by the ecosystem -- yet they are buying companies very quickly right now with less obvious user value. Why wouldn't they buy one of these and see if they can grow it into something?

Well yeah, of course all this exists somewhere else. And it's making those folks money hosting it, not DB.

The problem is that DB caps your outgoing bandwidth so hosting even moderately large number of users will kill your site dead pretty quick.

It's obvious that people want to use it for these use cases, but DB hasn't been able to execute on that demand.

I think you just described Drop.io: http://www.crunchbase.com/company/drop-io

Loved that service. Completely forgot about it until you mentioned it.

They can easily do a lot of things. I think the challenge is the messaging/marketing. People know dropbox because it does one specific thing well.

If they were to do this, I think it would have to be spun out as its own service. This makes it much easier to market and message. You are seeing similar things in the mobile space with Facebook unbundling its app.

Sounds like a cool idea. Why don't you build it?

It has already been built. Bane's point is that why doesn't dropbox buy THOSE services and see if they can expand on it. For example docker.io is a paid service for the above use case. Dropbox might be getting a cut from them, but if docker has successfully demonstrated that there is a market for this, wouldn't it be better form dropbox to aquire them and push in that direction?

What an interesting perspective.

I don't own dropbox.

OwnCloud's plugin architecture allows for all of these things mentioned. But plugin authoring for OwnCloud is opaque and tedious. There's a Hello World and a few examples, but the environment isn't fun to work around.

This all could be accomplished with their api and your own web-server. The coding would be the hardest part though from an effort standpoint.

I actually think DB should be the webserver in this case.

Why can't I just make a "web-server" folder in my dropbox, drop a bunch of html, js and css and a few image files in there, get a URL and voila, instant website?

You sorta can already in truth, but they don't like it and the bandwidth is pretty severely capped on these kinds of sites. Make it part of the paid account (with x-fer up to 1GB/mo or whatever) and have high bandwidth users pay more?

Those ideas tempted me to stop what I was working on and try one of those ideas though, it was a great set of ideas.

Agreed. I'm afraid, the famous quote about Dropbox from Steve Jobs about being a feature not a product is playing out. Dropbox doesn't even own the commodity they sell (as far as I know). They sell you on storage, but you receive a syncing service, not storage.

I like dropbox, don't get me wrong, but they need to recognize the core value they brought to the table (and may still have) is better user experience design, not infrastructure. Simply offering more apps that are bound by the constraints of one's Dropbox account seems profoundly myopic.

I agree with you that their core value is a better user experience. In my mind, offering their own apps is actually the natural continuation of this core value -- since the underlying storage is just a commodity, they can differentiate by having really well-designed apps that sit on top of it.

Or have well designed apps that sit on top of something else, the constraint is unnecessary and I argue a net negative.

Was that quote from Jobs made before or after Apple's attempt to acquire Dropbox got turned down?

It was made to the CEO of Dropbox as he was trying to acquire it.

So standard negotiation tactics then.

Doesn't make it not true.

What's the difference between a product and a feature? In my eyes, if people are willing to pay for something, it's a product.

Actually, they're buying good teams with products that compliment or extend their current offerings. Loom on the consumer side; Hackpad on the enterprise side.

I don't know their vision, but both of these make sense to me in many possible contexts other than "floundering."

"Acquisitions like this never go to plan." That kind of absolutism sounds silly to me.

And my analysis of the situation is different. I see it as dropbox adding a services layer on top of the platform of storage they built. You already see other companies doing this -- using the dropbox platform. If I'm dropbox, I see a lot of opportunity there.

The Dropbox 'platform' is razor-thin, and their core offering is fast becoming a commodity.

At the moment, their business model doesn't extend much beyond brokering storage space. They are simply a middle-man between end users and Amazon S3, whose value add is some software that makes the process of storing and sharing files relatively pain-free.

They're good at what they do, and their software is nice, but in the long-run, there isn't much money in what they do.

Diversification is the obvious course of action, but it pits them against major players like Apple, Google, and Microsoft. All of these could probably afford to offer unlimited storage to all their users tomorrow, and if they got the software right, could render Dropbox redundant.

Dropbox works on iOS, Android, Windows, OS X, and Linux. Because it's not just a website they can do things like automatically backup your phones photo's.

They avoid storing duplicate files between users which dramatically reduces storage space on S3 in ways single users can't. But, also allows them to add cheap versioning as there not storing 1 copy per user of each file.

How is Dropbox's core business unsustainable?

The way I see it, Dropbox wants to be the filesystem and personal hard drive of the Internet. Easy enough business, just sell hard drive space. And as always with any software business, with users, you have data, and with data, you have potential advertiser money and a lot of investor interest.

Why can't they rival Google/Apple? Yes, bigger companies have a lot more resources. But that doesn't mean that only big companies can succeed. If small companies have nailed a service that big companies can't wrap their heads around/move quick enough to take over, then they'll outperform big companies in that market. Once upon a time, Apple was a small company, too. But they did personal computer and personal computer software better than competitors long enough to become a large company. Not too long ago, Google was a small company too, competing with large companies. The reason they succeeded to go on to become a big company is their superior product. Yahoo and other search engine competitors just couldn't tap into what Google had, whether it be because they didn't possess the genius/talent/skill/anything-other-than-resources Google employees had that made their product better, or because Yahoo was too large to move strategies fast enough to beat Google to market. Even more recent than Google being a small company, Dropbox was just another Y Combinator application that was shat on by oblivious HNers who thought "Don't people just use rsync and ftp?". But because they could provide a product that people wanted before big companies could catch on in time, they grew in size. Small companies have a chance against big companies. If they didn't, it'd be a pretty fascist society where everyone'd be forced to use the same products and services for all of forever.

How is this "flailing"? Google integrates cloud editing (Docs) with cloud storage (Drive) pretty well and that great integration is what's allowing Google to enroach on Dropbox's vision of being "the file system and hard drive of the Internet." Google has just shown us that integrating content creation tools with content storage tools isn't "flailing" or feature creep or anything; it's a valid strategy to boost content storage. And Dropbox is catching the hints. That's why this acquisition exists. So they can integrate content creation (HackSpace) with content storage (Dropbox). Now claiming HackSpace is going to put up a good fight against Google Docs is pretty absurd, but 1. now they're being backed by Dropbox, which should aid in the fight, and 2. remember what I said about small companies having a good chance if their product is good enough? With proper leadership (Drew Houston and Condoleezza Rice [moral issues aside, she has business and leadership skills that are completely separate from her political views which wouldn't affect anything about her position at Dropbox] -- check), resources (Dropbox -- check), and product design and development (this is the risk Dropbox is taking by purchasing HackSpace -- will DB be able to produce a better product than Docs?), yes HackSpace can beat Docs.

"Acquisitions like this never go to plan, and they are almost always a waste of money."

Why does HN do this? Toss around bold and interesting rhetoric that is completely baseless and has no substance or logic. Like the Michael Bay of writing.

This is so absurd, I don't even feel like I need to argue against it; it's like saying "The idea of companies never go to plan and are almost always a waste of money." It's just so ridiculous and against the way the real world works that it's more on you to prove your radical theories than it's on me to prove them wrong.

If acquisitions didn't work to produce a net benefit, then successful companies wouldn't do them, period.

>And as always with any software business, with users, you have data, and with data, you have potential advertiser money and a lot of investor interest.

If dropbox goes down that path, not only would they lose a huge chunk of their existing customers, they would definitely perma-ban themselves from enterprise market. And that is where the real money is.

They wouldn't lose too much of their existing customers. Are you implying that massive data collection and advertiser interest are bad?

Most people really don't give a shit about massive data collection. I mean, sure, everyone's a Reddit slacktivist nowadays, throwing around words like "spying!" and "privacy!" but no one really cares, or else we'd all be using rsync + ftp and BitMessage and all that idealistic free software stuff that RMS peddles. People just want to seem special and cool and smart and advanced when they post about how EVIL the government is for spying on all of us. The art of saying "I don't use Facebook; they sell my info to advertisers", then turning around to use Google products (which are fucking unavoidable on the Internet, by the way, did you know fucking ReCaptcha is owned by Google? You'd have to completely avoid the Internet to avoid Google at this point) , is the 2014 spin on the 1990s art of saying "I don't own a television".

We use Chrome and Gmail and Facebook and OS X and Amazon and what-not, because the net benefit of having really convenient software developed by teams of hundreds (thousands, even, in huge cases like Google/FB) talented professionals that are putting in $120K / year's worth of effort beats the net cost of having to pay for that $120K by letting Facebook give advertisers all your user data to make up for the costs of developing and operating such convenient software (and whatever profit FB is hoping to make -- people don't start businesses out of the goodness in their hearts). I mean, what's the alternative? Paying for the $6 per user per year that Facebook makes? Would you really rather pay for these services than just aid in letting the advertisers know that 67% of young (18-34) males in New York City prefer Macy's over JC Penney? Is it really that significant, your tiny, indistinguishable contribution to our advertising overlords that isn't even tied to your personal identity? It's not like they know that specifically Omar Hegazy and Xerophyte clicked on this ad over that ad in A/B tests; they don't give a shit about the specific identities and that would be truly creepy. No, they obviously care more about aggregate statistics, like overall click through rate and what-not. And when you're just another brick in the wall of statistical analysis, is it really all that creepy? Do they really know all that much specifically about you?)?

So, people don't really care about privacy, and Dropbox wouldn't lose a huge chunk of their customers. Or else, Facebook and Google and Apple and what-not would've lost a huge chunk of their customers.

I agree, though, about the enterprise market. Enterprise is smaller than consumer-facing, because the set of all professionals in a certain vertical is much smaller the set of everyone. That means that spying on the enterprise market is much more personal and tied to identity than spying on everyone as a whole. So it really does lose you customers in enterprise. Also it's much easier just to charge people directly for money in enterprise; usually verticals have a greater demand for a proper solution than horizontals, cause they're a much more specific market to target and so their biggest pain points are easier to solve. People really would pay $6 a year, and even more, for a product that truly understands what their specific problem is.

But I disagree that enterprise is where all the moolah is. I just think that it's much, much harder to make moolah in consumer-facing software, and all the moolah in consumer-facing software goes to a select few very well-known winners. But if you become one of those winners, then you have much more money and historical recognition than any boring old enterprise company will get you.

It's really very hard to nail down "What's a problem that everyone is having but no one has solved?" -- but when you do nail it down, oh boy, you just solved everybody's problem, and it gets you the quickest company to reach $150bn valuation in ever and the founder becomes the youngest billionaire in the world. I think, if Drew Houston and Co. went down the consumer-facing route, they'd be playing their chips on the assumption that they really struck gold with answering that seemingly unanswerable question. And given how far Dropbox has gone in the consumer market, I wouldn't hold it against them for taking that risk.

That being said, they do seem like they're saving some of their chips for the enterprise route. So if they really were worried about ruining enterprise trust by being yet another consumer-facing company that gobbles all your data and feeds it back to advertisers, they'd just do the other thing I suggested - sell hard drive space. But something tells me Dropbox is trying to be more.

But i agree, it's not necessarily unsustainable. They just need to focus on PAYING customers more, and they'd find most of them in the enterprise market. So yes, tying content-creation with content-storage is an EPIC move, but they need to keep in mind that this needs to be done with the focus on the enterprise user.

I think the OP may have been referring to the massive expected price declines in the storage market. Price cuts like this: http://readwrite.com/2014/03/17/google-drive-pricing-plans-d...

Dropbox would ultimately have to start matching them & then slowly starts a downward spiral. However, if they move into the applications layer, the pricing pressure is less intense.

Eh. If price declines become a problem, Dropbox will be just like every other seemingly free consumer-facing service.

Sell data to advertisers.

It's making Facebook $6 per user per year, and as company databases get more and more massive (Did you know Facebook has 300 fucking petabytes of user data? And 5 years ago, Google was processing 24 petabytes per day.) and machine learning / data statistical analysis gets more and more advanced and software companies have more and more cultural capital and industry reliance (Software is eating the world, etc. etc.) that number can only go up higher. Mix $6 per user per year revenue with the massive increase in users you'd get from consumer-facing vs enterprise (everyone vs. a single business vertical) and you got yourself a consumer-facing company that makes so much more moolah than the equivalent enterprise company.

But I agree there's more pressure. There are much fewer winners in consumer-facing than enterprise. But Dropbox is just betting they'll be one of those winners.

True in part, but we haven't seen people flocking to Google Drive in droves, despite the fact that their offering is now bigger and better than Dropbox's. There's something to be said for getting even the little things right.

And I'm sure something to be said for transitional friction.

To me dropbox is very simple: a folder you stick your things in and it syncs. I'm sure Google/SugarSync/Box/Drive etc do that just fine. I rarely if ever go on the dropbox site.

Why haven't I switched to a cheaper option? Too much friction to move things over.

Real-time editing of documents might very well be in their vision.. and if they can get an incredible team, what's the problem?

The problem is monetizing real-time editing of documents. Ideas welcome.

Charge money for it?

This almost sounds like Facebook.

Buying virtual reality was the final smoke signal of danger.

Microsoft has a tough time competing with Google and Apple. It has decades of experience and loads of cash to burn and still be standing.

How exactly does a "final smoke signal of danger" work? What happens if there's another smoke signal?

I think in his usage final = definitive. As in there may be more, but that signal was the 'were in danger' moment. Not that I agree, just clarifying for him.

Countdown to ad-supported free accounts starts...now.

This idea will likely be appalling to many here, but it's an interesting and novel concept -- a promo DB folder with trial versions of, say, five products you can install if you wish, and the contents of the folder refreshes with new stuff every so often. If Dropbox is selective about the stuff it lets into the folder, I'd be up for it. It's kind of like all those subscribe-to-a-box-of-stuff services that are springing up.

Is the landing page terribly jittery for anyone else? I can barely tell what's going on and scrolling takes a bit to respond.

It is often like that in Firefox.

Well this is not very promissing: http://i.imgur.com/1vCvZzI.png

Hackpad and Loom? Dropbox is on a bit of a feeding frenzy.

They are prepping for an IPO.

(note - for anyone not familiar, a common strategy just before an IPO is to cash out on a large chunk of capital so as to sweeten the deal for the much larger public capital raise)

Mmm, how does having less capital on hand benefit the company that's approaching public markets for financing?

At least Hackpad is staying open (for now). Loom is no longer allowing new signups, and is shutting down completely next month.

A bit of goodwill generation after the whole Condoleeza thing.

So did they dump the Bushevik war-pushing bitch or not?

The combination of inflammatory, if not abusive, language with glib one-liner sarcasm makes for a particularly bad Hacker News comment.

All: When you see a comment that is truly bad for HN, you can flag it by clicking "link" to go to the item page and then "flag" at the top. We monitor those flags and take action based on them.

(My point here has nothing to do with the Iraq War.)

Grow up, please. The b-word was completely uncalled for.

So was a trillion dollars in fraud.

"NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. war in Iraq has cost $1.7 trillion with an additional $490 billion in benefits owed to war veterans, expenses that could grow to more than $6 trillion over the next four decades counting interest, a study released on Thursday said."

Most people here who don't have good opinion of Condoleezza Rice (myself included) because of the significant parts she played during the Bush Administration probably agree with the points you're making.

However, gender has nothing to do with it. Building your criticisms on top of misogyny throws your entire motivations into question. The foundation has already rotted out and the rest of your arguments fell through; it's doubtful that most here are taking you seriously at this point.

I sort of agree, believe it or not. At the same time, I must confess to harboring a dislike for polite civilized discourse in at least a couple circumstances.

The films in the Hunger Games series (especially the first) really nail something: the way barbarians hide behind polite rhetoric and noble behavior. The brilliance of things like the original punk movement -- and comedians since time immemorial -- has been to mock that, to discuss the piggish behavior of corrupt elite deviants in appropriately piggish language.

Condi's behavior in the 2000s I believe merits a little mockery for the upper-class rules of conduct that people like her hide behind.

Of course I've had a mild personal disdain for the trappings of polite society ever since I did a stint in business consulting and watched the way white collar sociopaths conduct themselves in the real world. I'd rather count myself among the trash, thank you very much.

It wasn't "trashy"; it was misogynist.

And as such, there's no place for it on HN.


Classier than starting a war for no discernible rational reason.

Edit: just to make my position clear: this goes beyond Democrat/Republican ideologies or politics and into the realm of criminality. This is in a wholly different league from the Mozilla CEO gay rights controversy.

Condoleeza Rice and the rest of the Bush administration cynically exploited 9/11 to launch a completely unrelated war for no discernible reason other than to enrich their pals in the defense contracting industry and perhaps to pursue some crackpot political theories that were never publicly disclosed or discussed.

These people lied us into a war, and every indication seems to be that they did so intentionally. They committed fraud at a cost of hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer money and (conservatively) tens of thousands of innocent human lives. They are white collar criminals with blood on their hands and belong in prison.

Am I wrong? They've had ample time to explain themselves and have failed to do so. I think it's because they can't. Anyone want to link to a rational and defensible explanation for the Iraq war that does not reference crackpot baloney from a right-wing rag like Pajamas Media or Fox News? (Just so you know this isn't totally partisan... I'd say the same thing if a similar thing were done based on information from AlterNet or TruthOut or some other lefty rag. By rag I mean 'clearly biased to the point of being untrustworthy news source.')

What would you think if Dropbox had recruited -- say -- a Bernie Madoff type who happened to "get off" on a technicality for running a Ponzi scheme? What Bernie did did not (directly) kill anyone.

I'm very curious to see how the stock of a company that recruits crooks to their board does on the open market.

No need to debase yourself to make that point. Referring to her as a "bitch" does nothing to make your point more valid. I have deep distaste for Clarence Thomas, but I'd never refer to him by the n-word. Your elaboration here is far more interesting and appropriate than the original comment.

Normally I'd agree. I just think this issue is kind of way out in a class by itself, outside the bounds of ordinary disagreement.

Sarah Palin is someone I pretty much disagree with on almost everything, but I would not use such language to refer to her and I would not advocate boycotting a company for appointing her to their board. I might roll my eyes or scratch my head but that's about it.

> Just so you know this isn't totally partisan

I've never even been to America, and I know fellow hackers who have also cancelled their Dropbox account over this. The Iraq war and American surveillance are not partisan topics. I'll be advising against Dropbox (and their new acquisitions) wherever I have the chance/influence.

Iraq is far worse than mass surveillance, though the latter is definitely a problem. At least in the case of surveillance the supporters have made something like a rational case for why they think it's needed, and the topic is being debated as it should be. It also usually doesn't involve killing people, and the cost is far lower.

I'm honestly not familiar with anything in recent American history as flagrant as the Iraq fraud. Even Vietnam made sense from a certain point of view and its supporters made their case and it was debated. It ended up being a bad idea, but it was technically a lot more democratic and less fraudulent. Some of its supporters have even admitted they were wrong.

My darkest suspicion about Iraq is that the reasons are either too corrupt or insane to even discuss... either flat-out premeditated fraud or something in complete fruitcake territory like trying to initiate the millennial Christian eschaton. The fact that nobody has even tried to make a coherent well-articulated case that doesn't insult my intelligence makes me wonder.

This is off-topic and flamewar bait. Please stop.

Politicians aren't the source of power, they are conduits of power. Rice happened to be a very good conduit.

May I ask what/who you think is the source then?

In the anarchic world the power originates at the muzzle of a gun, which in turn roughly corresponds with the economic power. However, this arrangement has high costs of conflict resolution, so in the post-anarchy world violence is ceded by society to be the monopoly of the state, and politicians are set to be conduits of the economic power towards the power of the state. Where politicians don't do their job, economic power goes out whack with political power resulting into a violent upheaval.

Therefore in modern society power lies with economic actors - people, capital, or any other entity that has economic impact and can be modeled as pursuing its own interests (self-preservation and some expansion).

A stable society would represent the interests of the people and the interests of the capital in proportion to their economic influence. Some actors will usually try to usurp the power at the expense of less diligent and/or less organized actors.

A great deal of the usurpation is based on demoralizing the opponent - if your opponent believes fighting for representation if power structures is pointless, you will have more power for yourself.

the private corporations their party are financed by.

Cheney used to be the CEO of Halliburton, And strangely the Ben Laden family were investor in the Carlyle group: https://www.google.fr/search?q=bin+laden+family+investors, as were former CIA operatives ,the Ben Laden family are bankers.

Not even going into who The Bush family friends are,but a lot of answers and explanations can be found in the "Kingdom", Saudi Arabia.

EDIT :i'm not a conspiracy theorist, yet when you just follow the money, things get really really strange. But it did not start with Bush 2, Clinton was highly corrupted with Saudi money too.

They probably don't need too, I doubt much of a stink was raised.

EDIT: Oh my, people are upset that I stated I don't see much of an issue being made over Rices appointment.

hahahaha ctl-f for "journey"

Sounds like redirection for the Condoleezza Rice fallout.

do downvoters have anything to add? I think it's a valid comment given the timing of these acquisitions.

Hackpad seems down at the moment. Wouldn't trust them with my documents.

Snarky comment aside, we've used them for many months and have had a fantastic experience on it. Great for collaboration is significantly better than Google docs/e-mails.

Can you explain why it's better then Google Docs? I've never heard of Hackpad before, but from their front page, it seems like it fills exactly the same space as Google Docs (collaborative, real-time editing), with little information about why they're better.

They don't do a great job of advertising why they're better, but semi-sensible keybindings (similar to Github markdown) and code syntax highlighting sold it for me. Also doesn't require a Google account to use.

Also auto-embeds photos/videos/soundcloud when you paste in links and has prettier UI. Not sure if Google does the former.

It's not snarky to bring up the fact that their site is down and point out that that reflects poorly on their service. It's a perfectly valid criticism.

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