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Dropbox Partners with Salesforce, Pursuing Business Users

Dropbox Partners with Salesforce, Pursuing Business Users
By Barry Levine

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The Salesforce partnership comes on top of updates last week to the Dropbox for Business service, which added the ability to keep personal files separate from business ones but with access to either from the same app. A personal Dropbox and a business one could each have its own password, contacts, setting and files.
 



Dropbox has been stepping up its appeal to businesses. Toward that aim, the online storage and sharing service announced on Tuesday a new partnership with Salesforce.

Ari Friedland, head of business development and partnerships at Dropbox, told news media that the partnership, which adds functionality to Salesforce's new announced Salesforce1 platform, will help "users connect with customers in a whole new way."

At a basic level, it allows users to directly access Dropbox files from within a Salesforce1 mobile app. It also allows files in Dropbox to be attached to feeds using Salesforce Chatter. Salesforce1, announced this week, is a major new development platform from that company for mobile, social and cloud apps.

On a Tear

The Salesforce partnership comes on top of updates last week to the Dropbox for Business service, which added the ability to keep personal files separate from business ones but with access to either from the same app. A personal Dropbox and a business one could each have its own password, contacts, setting and files, and, although linked, would not have automatic synchronization.

The update also enhanced security for Dropbox-stored files, and added to IT's ability to administer, monitor or remove files that employees are storing in a Dropbox business account.

At Salesforce's Dreamforce conference taking place in San Francisco, Dropbox CEO Drew Houston appeared on stage Tuesday for a discussion with Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff. Houston told a story of the time Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs set up a meeting in which he sought to buy the start up -- or put it out of business.

$8 Billion Valuation

Houston added that, six months later, Jobs mentioned Dropbox specifically during a keynote address, saying that Apple's new iCloud would "kill us." Now, Dropbox has 175 million users and 4 million businesses utilizing its simple-to-use cloud storage system, which resides inside a folder on a desktop, while Apple's iCloud, which has been criticized for being more complex than it needs to be, is restricted to Apple users.

This week, based on a valuation of $8 billion and its annual revenue stream of $200 million, the company is seeking a reported $250 million in another round of investment. In late 2011, the company raised $250 million with a $4 billion valuation.

Dropbox also recently released an update for Android users, so that photos and video on a phone can be shared directly with contacts without having to use e-mail. There is also the ability to upgrade to the Pro version simply by taking a photo of your credit card; the app fills in the credit card info.

Charles King, an analyst with industry research firm Pund-IT, told us that while Dropbox is increasing its appeal to businesses, there are "any number of cloud backup, collaboration and storage services that are business-focused."

He noted that Dropbox's current effort to obtain or appear to be interested in "business engagements with thousands of seats" is especially driven by its desire to increase its valuation and appeal to investors.
 

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