Something a bit different this week here at Fresh Capital. This week we interviewed Michael Bradley from Dropbox, diving into Dropbox’s Virtual First strategy. Dropbox has an incredibly bullish view of the future of work - they have gone all-in on remote work.
During our interview on this week’s podcast, we pick Michael’s brain on:
- Dropbox and their ‘Virtual First’ strategy
- The future of work, distributed teams and workforce flexibility
- And the challenges that need to be overcome for any business to pursue hybrid of virtual work
What is Dropbox?
Dropbox is a platform that enables teams to 'stay in sync' through its cloud based smart platform, offering a space for teams to collaborate, manage content, share files and manage projects.
Users can store files in their ‘Dropbox’ which are then synced to Dropbox’s servers and other devices where users have installed Dropbox, keeping all the files up-to-date across all their devices.
Dropbox operates a freemium model - users are offered a free account with limited storage size and can opt to purchase more storage at a subscription rate. This freemium model has been the subject of numerous case studies, we’re not diving into an in-depth analysis into the freemium model in our write-up but if you want to learn more about it, the Harvard Business Review has a great article about it here.
This freemium model has been the lynchpin to Dropbox’s go-to-market strategy. It almost could be described as a ‘bottom-up’ sales strategy - individual users choose Dropbox for their personal files because it’s free and easy to use. This organic adoption with limited customer acquisition costs enabled Dropbox to quickly expand and grow through product-led-growth.
Over time, these customers begin to use Dropbox for work, which then enables Dropbox to penetrate and expand across corporates and enterprise customers. The employees in these organisations are already familiar with Dropbox so it becomes an easier decision to roll-out Dropbox across the entire company.
Once Dropbox becomes embedded into a company, it shifts from a file storage platform to becoming an ecosystem orchestrator in a company’s productivity stack as it integrates with almost all major enterprise software. This is the genius of Dropbox’s organic growth strategy - bottom up adoption which grows into enterprise adoption.
And not only does Dropbox do organic growth incredibly well, they are highly aggressive in their M&A strategy and has spent almost half a billion across 27 acquisitions. These acquisitions have enabled Dropbox to quickly add new features, integrations and tools into their platform and remain competitive against other SaaS providers.
What is the future of work?
There is no doubt that ‘the future of work’ is a phrase being thrown around as the flavour of the month (or, flavour of the year) with the global pandemic continuing to disrupt and dictate our lives.
Unhelpfully, if you google ‘what is the future of work’, no organisation or company provides a simple answer to this question. Generally speaking, the ‘future of work’ refers to the way companies and organisations structure how they work (i.e. Zoom calls, virtual whiteboard sessions) and where we work (working from home or maybe from a beach-side villa).
Both these things have evolved from work using pen and paper in a physical office to online / remote working as a result of digital transformation and further catalysed by the global pandemic.
Source: McKinsey & Co
However, this shift isn’t binary. The ‘future of work’ takes many different shapes between the spectrum of ‘only physical work’ and ‘only virtual work’, with most companies opting for a hybrid model where employees can choose to alternate between remote work a few days a week and in-office work for the remaining days.
Pursuing either a hybrid model or a virtual model has a few benefits:
- Access to talent - By enabling your employees to work remotely, you’re accessing a greater pool of talent that you can attract to your company. Companies are no longer limited to hiring in the city they’re located in or asking employees to relocate, they can hire talent from anywhere around the world
- Increase in productivity - Remote working enables employees to spend time in deep focus without disruptions from everyday office life and focus on delivering meaningful outcomes without distractions
- Reduction in overheads - While not directly linked to improving the employee experience, as companies shift towards hybrid or virtual working models, they reduce their rent and building expenses which could help improve profitability
What is Dropbox’s vision for the future of work?
In October last year, Dropbox announced that the company was going all-in on remote work - moving forward, employees are no longer required to come into a physical office to work, employees now have the autonomy to work where they want and how they want. This strategy manifests in a few different ways for employees:
- Working remotely is now the new norm for Dropbox employees
- In-person and team collaborations can still happen physically through Dropbox Studios - physical workspaces designed for collaboration and community-building
- Non-linear work days - core collaboration hours with overlap between time zones. Being a global tech company, Dropbox has employees operating across multiple time zones and geographies. Blocking out hours during a day for collaboration across time-zones means you don’t have to worry about meetings at inconvenient times or disruptions to your work flow
Becoming ‘Virtual First’ is a bullish statement for Dropbox, particularly when other companies have adopted a hybrid model, a blend of virtual work and in-office work where employees can choose to work remotely a few days a week and spend the rest of the week in the office.
This decision is perfectly aligned with Dropbox’s product and their mission as a company. Dropbox is laser focused on designing products to transform how remote work and collaboration happens - the core of their product is file-syncing that enables you to access files anywhere.
By living the reality of ‘Virtual First’ day to day, Dropbox has put themselves in a winning position - they can use the insights from virtual working to better understand the pain points and challenges that come with remote an virtual working and use these insights to evolve and improve their product.
In our podcast this week, Michael Bradley from Dropbox provided some incredible insight into the benefits and challenges of ‘Virtual First’ and how companies are addressing the future of work. Be sure to check out this episode!