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By Gerry Shih
SAN FRANCISCO Nov 13 Dropbox Inc on Wednesday
unveiled what it described as one of the most comprehensive
upgrades to its service for businesses, including a feature that
allows users to easily maintain both personal and corporate
The new features come at a time when large rivals like
Microsoft Corp and Amazon Inc and smaller
competitors are battling to win the cloud-storage market, which
is widely seen as a strategic linchpin in the era of mobile
The upgrades reflect the changing business focus at Dropbox
- one of the most closely-watched privately held Internet
companies - toward becoming a file-sharing solution for
corporate customer, a critically important and lucrative market.
Dropbox, valued at $4 billion by venture capital investors, is
viewed as a hot prospect for an initial public offering within
the next two or three years.
Dropbox said Wednesday it would let users store files in
separate accounts in order to separate their personal and
professional lives. The corporate Dropboxes, which are
controlled by the user's employer's IT administrators, would
also have additional security tools such as logs that track when
files have been opened or moved. Administrators could also
remotely wipe files from mobile devices connected to the
The announcement came on the same day Amazon unveiled a
similar tool called WorkSpaces for large enterprises at an event
in Las Vegas.
Amazon's announcement, which sent shares of the
Seattle-based giant 2 percent higher on Wednesday, underscores
the intensifying competition in the area of file-sharing across
multiple computers and mobile devices.
Reuters reported last week that Box, one of Dropbox's
privately held competitors, had chosen bankers to lead a
highly-anticipated initial public offering in early 2014. Box
has positioned itself as an enterprise-grade alternative to
Dropbox, with an emphasis on security and other features that
corporate IT departments demand.
Conventional wisdom in Silicon Valley holds that Dropbox,
which is praised for its ease of use and slick interface, needs
to win over enterprise clients who are willing to pay hefty sums
if it is to dominate its competition.
Dropbox offers limited amounts of storage for free to
individual consumers, which had been its focus. The company said
Wednesday it has 200 million consumer-grade accounts.
Dropbox for Business costs $795 a year for unlimited storage
for five users and $125 for each additional user. The service
has 4 million subscribers so far, Chief Executive Drew Houston
Ilya Fushman, the head of product for business, told Reuters
that Dropbox identified its business products as the top
priority for 2013.
"We don't think of Dropbox as a personal or business product
anymore," Fushman said.
The new business features drew resources from across the
company, Fushman said. For the past half year employees have
worn ties and blazers to the San Francisco office every day as a
playful nod to the Dropbox for Business effort - a departure for
a company with a famously geeky, unbuttoned work culture.
(Reporting by Gerry Shih; Editing by Bernard Orr)