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Dropbox is Serious About What They Do with
By Monica Stankova access_time 4 min read

Dropbox recently announced Dropbox Shop beta launch. The company also introduced new updates to the platform, as well as tipping capabilities, customizing your storefront and URLs and embed HTML codes. Launched in 2007 by Drew Houston, the business has been doing extremely well, being profitable with steady user growth after its inception.

The idea came to Drew after repeatedly forgetting his USB flash drive while he was a student at MIT. In an interview with Tim Ferriss, the entrepreneur shared the story of how he came up with the brand name Dropbox and his journey to secure the matching domain name –

The initial idea was to call the product « folder anywhere ». As Drew was making a logo for the name on photoshop, he searched for the domain – and found it is available. He bought the name but shortly after discovered a company called « files anywhere » already exists so got discouraged to use a similar name. In discussions with friends they settled on Dropbox as it was a term they used when getting together to play computer games. Since the matching .com domain name was not available, Drew got around Feb 2007 and got to work. He spoke briefly to owner of, who didn’t want to sell the name and said he has plans of his own to develop it. Later on in September the same year, with the product ready and some funding secured, Drew really saw some future in the new brand. He wanted absolutely to give it the best name and the best chances to succeed.

Calls didn’t seem to work so as any serious entrepreneur who believes in their idea and abilities, Drew didn’t stop at that. He got a bottle of champagne, and one Friday evening at 9pm showed up on the owner’s doorstep. « We are pretty serious about what we are doing. » he said, trying to help the domain owner understand why they should be interested. The meeting didn’t go that bad but by Monday they got another no.

We launched dropbox basically and all these confused people started going to trying to get to the dropbox beta. 

Drew Houston, founder Dropbox

The domain owner started getting emails from confused dropbox clients, but the Dropbox team had bigger issues than that.

Our investors think we are idiots for not changing the name, we try to do all those brand exercises to try and change the name that did not go well.

Drew Houston, founder Dropbox

Drew got into studying internet law himself and figured while you can’t just get someone’s domain if they’re not using it, it is illegal to confuse customers intentionally. The domain owner at the time was placing adverts for Dropbox competitors on the domain. Instead of getting into legal battles, both parties decided to sit at the negotiation table and shortly after Dropbox finally got the asset they were after all this time.

Sending that first email from to Paul and Jessica was such a triumph.

Drew Houston, founder Dropbox

A curious detail in the story is also that Drew offered the domain owner equity in the company. He seemed uninterested in that offer and took US$ 300,000 in cash instead. That equity would have been worth millions today. But what is more important is that as Dropbox founder concluded, there is no real playbook for getting the best domain name for your brand. Sometimes it means jumping in your car with a bottle of champagne on a Friday evening and hoping for the best.

How does your brand name match your company vision? What new horizons can a better name open? Get in touch if you feel your brand deserves a better name, we are always happy to help.

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