Dropbox, the cloud storage company, formally filed a prospectus with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Friday to raise $ 500 million through an initial public offering. Dropbox learned lessons from the post-mortem scenario of long-term stock price breakouts following the Snap listing of Snapchat’s parent company, Dropbox averting some of the issues, but market investors are still concerned about the governance and financial problems of the company.
Dropbox was founded in 2007 and released to the public in 2008, when it quickly became a hit, thanks to its easy-to-use file synchronization feature. Although the simplicity of Dropbox is still hard to beat today, it has not expanded too much in the past decade. Almost no change was made to its core product, and although it later added a collaborative document editor, many of its competitors offered similar products.
Dropbox originally provided consumers with free photos, music and other large file sharing and storage services. The business has been gradually commercialized as Google, Microsoft and Amazon began offering storage services for free.
Dropbox then turned business to business users. Dropbox is currently facing the question of whether the valuation is high. When it came to financing in 2014, it received a valuation of 10 billion U.S. dollars. Since the round of financing, more than one investor, both a public company and a private company, has written-off the value of its Dropbox shares.
At $ 10 billion, Dropbox will be the largest unicorn IPO since the Snap went public last year.
The dilemma encountered by Snap following its initial public offering was largely attributed to two previous decisions the co-founder of the company made: one to issue unfiltered shares to investors and the other to market to chief executives and Another co-founder awarded a large number of equity awards.
When companies go public, they have set up a multiple shareholding structure that aims to keep the success of listed companies in the hands of the founders; and awarding share-holding awards to senior management is not a new product in Silicon Valley. But Snap has done them the ultimate, and therefore paid the price.
Dropbox disclosed in the prospectus, the company adopted a three-tier equity structure. The company’s stock is divided into A-level, B-level and C-level three levels, this issue will be A-class stocks. Each Class A share has 1 Voting Right. Each Class B Class B shares 10 shares of Voting Rights and may be converted into Class A shares at any time. Class C shares have no voting rights.
Dropbox’s Class B shares are held primarily by the company’s founder, CEO Drew Houston, and venture capital firm Sequoia Capital, which collectively take up the company’s current 50% voting rights.
Santosh Rao, head of research at venture capital firm Manhattan Venture Partners, said: “Multinationals now have become the norm in technology companies and they want to take control of the business, strategically speaking, But in the case of Snap, the company did a bit too far because the founders of the company got 90% of the vote.
Dropbox’s prospectus also showed that during the company’s preparations for an initial public offering, the two co-founders paid about $ 156 million worth of stock rewards, compared with Snap CEO Ivan Spiegel Evan Spiegel) Earlier shareholding awards much less.
Among them, the CEO Houston received 109.6 million US dollars worth of corporate restricted stocks. Arash Ferdowsi, another co-founder of the company that co-founded Houston, received a restricted stock of $ 46.7 million, and the prospectus states that in the 10 years since listing, if Dropbox’s share price can break through a series of set price barriers in the $ 20 to $ 60 range and they will be able to cash out this portion of the restricted stock.
Although Dropbox’s corporate governance issues are much better than those of Snap, the market still expresses many concerns. Santos Rao currently fears Dropbox is facing fierce market competition and slowing revenue growth.
Dropbox reported revenue of $ 1,106.8 million last year, up 31% from $ 844.8 million in 2016 but at a slower pace than nearly 40% in 2016. The analyst also pointed out that Dropbox has too many free users compared to the number of paying users. “After so many years of development, of the 500 million Dropbox users, only 11 million are paying users, and the conversion rate is too low,” he emphasized.
Dropbox is currently facing challenges from rivals such as Google. The company also does not have the services of renting cloud service providers like Snap, thus avoiding excessive cloud computing costs. Dropbox has built its own storage infrastructure through a partnership agreement with HP. Hewlett-Packard has also become one of the company’s biggest customers as Meg-Whitman, HP’s former chief executive, joins Dropbox’s board of directors.
Dropbox may lose some potential investors because the company chose to go public after the high-growth era passed. This issue is also a long-term issue for market analysts and IPO experts in the past few years, as more and more unicorns choose longer private attributes. Although Dropbox’s revenue growth began to slow, as long as the current pace of development is maintained, the company will make a profit in the next few years.
When the market waiting for Uber, Airbnb and other unicorn giant IPO, the performance of Dropbox after the listing will provide them with some reference.