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Dropbox Founding Story


Dropbox, a San Francisco based file hosting service company, made its debut in 2007 as a startup funded by seed accelerator Y Combinator.  Since then, it has grown into a successful $ 10 billion company with millions of users. Founded by MIT students Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi, the Company offers cloud storage, file synchronization, personal cloud and client software to its millions of users.

The idea of Dropbox came to Drew Houston, then a 24 year old MIT computer science graduate, in late 2006, during his commute by bus between Boston and New York.  Back then, he was struggling with the effects of forgetting his USB flash drive on a daily basis.  According to Houston, internet services during the 2000s “suffered problems with Internet latency, large files, bugs, or just made me think too much.”  As a solution, he started working on something for his personal use.  In an interview, Houston said, “I was so frustrated because I felt like this kept happening. I never wanted to have the problem again, so having nothing else to do… I started writing some code [to find a solution], having no idea what it would become.”  Soon, he realised the solution could be helpful to others as well.  He came up with a prototype within two weeks. 


One of Silicon Valley’s biggest seed accelerators, Y Combinator, then showed interest in the project and was ready to fund the startup, but had one  condition—Houston should find a business partner. Y Combinator’s belief was, a business is more likely to succeed if it had more than one founder. Hence, Houston had only two weeks to find a complete stranger willing to join his startup, the struggle of which he compared to finding a partner to marry in two weeks. 


As a solution, Houston released a demo video about Dropbox and found a very impressed 22 year old MIT student Arash Ferdowsi.  Houston managed to persuade Ferdowsi to drop out of school and join his company in just 2 hours. 

With a business partner and funding from Y Combinator, Dropbox launched in 2008.  The Company saw a steady user growth and surpassed 500 million users in March 2016.  Dropbox has been growing exponentially with many awards like the 2010 Crunchie Award for Best Internet Application and the 2009 Macworld’s Editor Choice Award for Best Software, under its name.


Dropbox went public in March 2018 and the value of its shares on NASDAQ skyrocketed.  Starting its journey in 2007, Dropbox has come a long way and is currently worth approximately $ 10 billion. As of July 2018, Drew Houston’s net worth was $ 3 billion and Arash Ferdowsi’s was $ 1.3 billion.  The founding and success of Dropbox is the perfect example of how inspiration for a new startup can come from anywhere and at anytime.

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