Venture

Dropbox’s New Desktop App Welcomes ‘Modern’ SaaS Startups To Join

Dropbox is creating a new desktop platform to bring together different services that workers use for documents, video chat and communication into one place, tackling a pain point venture-backed collaboration startups have both added to, and tried to solve.

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The fairly-recently-public company wants the new platform to “eliminate friction around the coordination of your work,” says Quentin Clark, the company’s CTO. So, he said, they’ve integrated with market-leaders like Slack, Zoom, Google Docs, and Atlassian.

While Tuesday’s Dropbox event focused on already-established partnerships, Clark said the company is open to opportunities with other private SaaS companies and startups helping with “modern collaboration” data.

First things first, Dropbox’s news reminds me of another private company en route to a direct listing, that also works on workplace collaboration: Slack.

The venture-backed Slack grew into a well-recognized brand that taps into workflow communications, and invites other apps to join in on the fun. It’s not a free for all – but according to Brad Armstrong, VP of business and corporate development at Slack, they’re welcoming: about 500,000 apps and integrations are used every week.

Comparatively, Dropbox, which went public last year, is just now getting in the game – and knows its place.

“No one is going to stop using Slack because of this,” CEO of Dropbox Drew Houston told Crunchbase News. “And that isn’t our goal.”

Clark, who regularly visits the concept of integrating startups with Dropbox, told me startups like Figma, Airtable, Prezi, Coda could benefit from using Dropbox’s new platform simply because Dropbox has half a billion users. He said his first conversations with potential partners is all about tapping into that massive base.

“I want to be able to walk around the rest of the Valley [to other startups] with a straight face and say actually I want this…depth of integration to be for all of you,” he said, saying it’ll grow beyond the three companies from today.

Clark explained that “we’re not trying to get rid of anyone,” but instead this is the company’s move from beyond the “file era, into the cloud era.”

Discounting big-company products like Microsoft Teams, workplace collaboration startups could be directly impacted by Dropbox’s news. To list a few: Galaxy, online work collaboration software, Goodday Work, which is a work management platform for projects and products, Optimaze, which provides data-driven solutions to support workplace planning and design optimization solutions.

Dropbox is emphasizing that its new space works with “two-way integrations.” Slack is complementary, not competitive.

Houston added: “We aren’t trying to wipe out other apps with this – we’re streamlining it.”

As for fixing work app saturation with another work app? Houston said that if its new workspace is not intuitive to use, it isn’t doing its job correctly.

Drew Houston, CEO and founder of Dropbox..

Illustration Credit: Li-Anne Dias