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Box is set to beat Silicon Valley rival Dropbox to the IPO punch this year

Dropbox CEO Drew Houston
Reuters/Stephen Lam
Dropbox CEO Drew Houston wants to bring his company to your pocket.
By Mark DeCambre
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

The digital storage company Box appears set to kick off its initial public offering after secretly filing its plans in January. Meanwhile, the hotly anticipated IPO of its competitor, Dropbox, looks unlikely to launch until next year, according to sources familiar with both offerings.

The public offerings of the two privately-held companies have been eagerly anticipated in Silicon Valley and Wall Street, as a growing number of tech companies—most recently, Spotify—have appeared to inch toward listing on a public exchange. Representatives of Dropbox and Box declined to comment.

Although some have assumed that Drew Houston, the chief executive of Dropbox, might look to go public as early as this year, a source familiar with the offering suggested the company may not launch its IPO until 2015. That means Box, based in Los Altos, California, is very likely to beat its rival to a public offering. 

For the moment, San Francisco-based Dropbox is not wanting for cash. It recently raised roughly $250 million from a funding round led by BlackRock (paywall). But the data storage company, which boasts a roughly $10 billion valuation with its most recent influx of capital, is still getting its financial house in order. It hasn’t yet named a chief financial officer—typically a key hire for a company with IPO aspirations. Sources say that Dropbox is looking to recruit right now, and has cast a fairly wide net for a financial officer with experience with public companies. 

Timing always plays a role in decisions of whether and when to make a public debut. There’s no guarantee that markets will be as receptive to tech offerings next year as they have been in 2014. Kathy Shelton Smith, a principal at Renaissance Capital, says there is a healthy backlog of tech IPOs slated to hit the market, driven in large part by the attractive returns in that sector.

Box, with its $2-billion valuation, is surging forward, starting its pre-IPO outreach to potential investors in the coming weeks, with an eye toward launching its IPO sometime this spring, sources say. It’s unclear how this move will affect Dropbox’s chances, but one thing is clear: For Dropbox, hiring the right people is a first, key step.


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