Are top US startups really startups?

Pitchbook, a data research company has come up with a list of top 14 most valuable startups in the United States. There are no real surprises — they are all ranked by valuation and they all are valued at north of $4 billion. They are all household names – barring Outcome Health and Samumed.

And they have been around forever. They have thousands of employees and many have billions in revenue. What they are not is liquid on public markets. They have not IPO’d. In a different Silicon Valley, they will all be public companies and they won’t be deemed startups. Revenue, growth, relative size, market share – pick a metric (except for lack of profits in many cases) and you know they aren’t really startups.

So can we stop calling them startups — and instead maybe call them VC-backed private companies — otherwise the label startup loses its meaning. Continue reading “Are top US startups really startups?”

DropBox – From zero to a billion in a decade

I first met Drew Houston and his co-founder, Arash Ferdowsi, over nine years ago. They had been quietly working on Dropbox and were going to announce it as part of their presentation for the YCombinator demo day. When I met with them, the Young MIT dropouts pointed out they wanted to change mainstream behavior of carrying around USB sticks and make personal file sharing dead simple. They were confident that the relative ease of use of their offering would win over the masses. Good Luck, I said. Well, they nailed it.  Continue reading “DropBox – From zero to a billion in a decade”

Why Amazon (web services) and Dropbox need each other

Earlier this week, I stopped by at the offices of Dropbox, the San Francisco-based online storage and syncing service. It was quite amazing to walk through the company’s sprawling offices — the company now employs about 470 people. Five years ago, they were two guys — Arash Ferdowsi and Drew Houston — both MIT dropouts … Continue reading Why Amazon (web services) and Dropbox need each other