Do you use Dropbox? Probably. And you are not alone; there are at least 50 million other users out there. So this is one of the exciting stories about how a young entrepreneur went from nothing (besides the idea) to a multibillion company in few years.
Yesterday I had the pleasure to hear this story told by the founder & CEO Drew Houston at “Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Seminar” at Stanford University in Silicon Valley as part of my participation in the TINC-program by Innovation Norway in San Francisco & Silicon Valley. That’s another history which I have blogged about here (sorry, in Norwegian). I won’t tell you the inspiring story Drew Houston told yesterday; you can see it yourself at the end of this blogpost. What I just want to tell right now is that I had the pleasure to have a conversation with him after his talk.
I asked him how Dropbox protects sensitiv information by using encryption. It is well known that they have a very good solution for storing, sharing and synchronize data – but it’s not secure enough for many companies. The reason is that they don’t fully protect sensitive information by using end-to-end encryption (most services don’t). They encrypt in transit (when files are up- or downloaded) and at rest (when the files have been uploaded to their servers). For non-sensitive data that’s OK, but not for information you don’t want disclosed on the Internet. This is what Gartner Group says: “Don’t Trust Cloud Provider to Protect Your Corporate Assets”.
I use Dropbox myself, but only for non-sensitive data. For the rest I use Ensafer to protect the data when it is stored and shared with other users on the Internet. This is a product developed by my own company Invenia in Norway. As one of just a few services on the Internet we do end-to-end encryptiong with sharing among the users. I told him what we’ve been doing, and that we have solved a problem Dropbox and other file sharing services face; the problem to share encrypted files between users in a simple way where all the complexity an encryption keys are hidden. We had a short talk about this, and I got a name to contact at Dropbox to discuss this further.
So what did he tell the audience? You can watch it yourself at the website for the Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Seminar (not published when this is written). The website has the following introduction of Drew Houston:
“Drew Houston is CEO and Co-Founder of Dropbox, and has led Dropbox’s growth from a simple idea to a service relied upon by millions around the world. Drew leads Dropbox’s activities, and is actively involved in its business and product decisions. Before founding Dropbox, Drew attended MIT where he studied computer science. He took a quick leave from school to form Accolade, an online SAT prep startup, and also worked as a software engineer for Bit9. After graduating from MIT, Drew recognized that people needed a way to bring their files with them without sending email attachments or carrying USB drives. He began writing a solution to this problem in early 2007 before showing an early version to Arash Ferdowsi in Boston. The two of them then began working on the project that would eventually become Dropbox.”
Let me finish by recommending other videos at this site; it’s a lot of great talks there. And you can read more about Drew Houston here if you like. Thanks to Rune Aleksandersen (another TINC-participant) for taking the picture of me and Drew; I didn’t know.