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Cloudbased Productivity: Dropbox, Google Docs & Cognitive Dissonance

August 9, 2011

Within months of it’s launch, I was an early adopter of Dropbox’s file sharing service.  Working with multiple organizations, virtual teams and large files was a recipe for email-attachment disaster and Dropbox came along at the perfect time.  Single-handily I’m guessing I have turned on at least 250 new Dropboxers.    Dropbox’s story is remarkable.   They have grown to 25 million users largely on a viral model.  Think about it.  The essence of Dropbox’s value-add is the need for person 1 to share with person(s) 2 (3, 4…).  If you are person 1 and you have a large file that you intend to collaborate upon with person 2, you are going to suggest person 2 sign on to Dropbox.  Products/Services so good that your users become your  Marketing and Sales departments is the ultimate Tom Sawyer Strategy (remember how he got his friends to paint the fence?).

I was not surprised when I read recently that Dropbox is close to completing a $300 mil round valuing the company at btw $5 and $10 billion where the founders will be allowed to take a significant portion of the fundraise off the table.  What’s truly amazing is that Dropbox has been able to pull off an auction of sorts for this round of funding. Read here and here .

Where’s the cognitive dissonance, you ask?  Well, I just read read Fred Wilson’s “There Will Be No Files In The Cloud”  blogpost and he has me thinking.  Fred is arguing that services like Google docs (which I am also a heavy user) will eliminate the need for services like Dropbox.

I’ve spent a bunch of time talking to entrepreneurs who are building companies in and around the cloud storage space. It’s not a space I like very much because I don’t think we’ll be using files in the cloud. Now Dropbox is a brilliant company and an amazing service and they are doing very well, but will we need a service like Dropbox when everything is in the cloud? I don’t think so.

This is why I love Google Docs so much. I just create a document and email a link. Nobody downloads anything. There are no attachments in the email. Just a link. Just like the web, following links, getting shit done. I love it.

That’s the future. I’m pretty sure of it. Mobile is a bit of a complicating factor because we are still stuck with downloadable software and unreliable and slow internet connections. But I think we’ll fix all of that in good time.

So if you are working in the cloud storage space, I think you’ve got a bit of a conundrum. ..   Read more

Two powerful options for collaborative work that appear to be at odds down the road.  In the meantime, I will continue to embrace both and get a $%^*-load more done by collaborating virtually while eliminating the unproductive confusion that comes with ‘version-control’ when you email files around.    If you are managing virtual teams while attempting to manage to-do processes & time lines that require evolving documentation, you cant go wrong with any of these web services.

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