Dropbox valued at $8.2bn as much-anticipated IPO finally arrives

23 Mar 2018

Dropbox mobile app. Image: K Nopparat/Shutterstock

Cloud giant Dropbox to set the stage for a compelling IPO.

In 2013, we wondered if Dropbox was gunning for an $8bn valuation. As it turns out, Siliconrepublic.com was right on the money.

One of the most hotly anticipated tech IPOs will take place today (23 March) with the flotation of cloud player Dropbox on Nasdaq in New York under the ticker ‘DBX’.

‘The first lines of code for Dropbox were written on a bus ride’

Dropbox will sell 36m shares at $21 per share, giving the company a market valuation of $8.2bn.

The offering is understood to have been 25 times oversubscribed by keen investors.

Existing investors likely to do quite nicely from the IPO include Irish rockstars Bono and The Edge from U2 who invested in the company as part of a $250m funding round in 2012.

This is the latest in a string of tech investments by U2 frontman Bono who, as co-founder of venture capital firm Elevation Partners, also invested in Yelp and Facebook.

Despite the Facebook data scandal, very little can take the shine off what is one of the most highly anticipated tech IPOs since Snap last year.

Dropbox’s performance could also add weight to the prospects of other members of the tech unicorn club (companies with funding that values them at more than $1bn). Members of this exclusive club include Uber but also Stripe, an online payments company founded and led by Irish brothers John and Patrick Collison that is currently estimated to be worth more than $9bn.

Dropbox established its international HQ in Dublin in 2012.

The company’s technology enables users to store all kinds of digital documents in the cloud across a range of different devices, from computers to tablets and smartphones.

In 2016, Dropbox hit the milestone of 500m users across 180 countries.

Born of frustration

In 2013, CEO and co-founder Drew Houston told the crowd at the Dublin Web Summit that the company had still not touched a penny of the $257m in funding it had raised at that stage because it was already profitable.

Earlier this year, Dropbox reported revenues of more than $1bn in 2017 when its plans for an IPO were revealed.

MIT graduates Houston and Arash Ferdowsi began work on Dropbox in 2007, as a Y Combinator start-up.

They started the company because they were frustrated with working with multiple computers, and decided a way had to be found to allow people access the files they needed from any machine.

During a fireside chat with Siliconrepublic.com in Dublin in 2016, Houston recalled the start of Dropbox.

“The first lines of code for Dropbox were written on a bus ride,” he revealed, describing a situation familiar to many: when you have work to do but forget to bring the necessary files to do it.

Facing a four-hour bus journey of “frustration and self-flagellation” for his forgetfulness, Houston’s active mind got to work. “This [was] 2006, when this happened, so this was before the iPhone. These were the days when, if you didn’t have anything to do, you really didn’t have anything to do,” he said.

“I opened up the editor and started writing some code, having no idea what it would become.”

Dropbox mobile app. Image: K Nopparat/Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years