Dropbox has been holding meetings with banks about an initial public offering, possibly in the second half of this year, according to sources briefed on the talks.
The market has been waiting for its next hot tech IPOs, and they now look likely to come from Dropbox and Box, two rivals in online file storage. Dropbox could be the first to go public since it’s already meeting with bankers to assess their views, after which Dropbox will choose the banks to run its IPO. Box has said it’s more likely to go public in 2014.
But with investors more weary since the botched Facebook IPO, will the cloud storage companies be worth the hype?
Dropbox, which is estimated to be valued in the $4 billion range, has more buzz around it than its peers because the company has focused on average consumers, a strategy that has allowed it to grow to about 200 million users. But it has prompted questions about future growth prospects.
Dropbox gave its answer to those concerns on Tuesday, when it showed off a new version of its cloud storage system aimed at businesses, instead of consumers, opening a new area for growth. The move also makes it more competitive with Box, which is primarily geared toward corporate customers. Box could be worth around $2 billion.
The focus on business users reflects the realities of which tech companies have done well since going public in recent years. Firms like LinkedIn, geared toward professionals, and security software firm Palo Alto Networks, which is for corporations, have performed better than their counterparts focused on consumers, like Facebook, Groupon, and Zynga. Last week, LinkedIn posted an 81% rise in revenue, while in December, Palo Alto reported a 50% revenue increase.
Dropbox’s expansion into corporate customers shows it has learned from the IPO ghosts of the past. Now it has to see whether shareholders will reward the company for its wisdom.