back to article Dropbox basically decimates workforce, COO logs off: Cloud biz promises to be 'more efficient and nimble'

Dropbox is close to decimating its workforce, firing 11 per cent of staff in an effort to become “a more efficient and nimble” company, its CEO announced on Wednesday. In a blog post, Drew Houston said the decision to sack 315 workers was “one of the toughest decisions I’ve had to make in my 14 years as CEO,” and that he was “ …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Literally decimates?

    Surely that would be 10%, not 11?

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Literally decimates?

      Good pedantry AC, have cold one -->

    2. General Purpose Bronze badge

      Re: Literally decimates?

      Oh, you quibble about 1% but you're fine with the employees still being alive?

      1. Observer!

        Re: Literally decimates?

        sometimes its not good to be in the 1%

    3. cornetman Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Literally decimates?

      God in heaven you beat me to it. But agreed: fine pedantry!

    4. HildyJ Silver badge
      Angel

      Re: Literally undecimate

      Undecimate would be proper Latin usage but I doubt it will catch on.

      1. Tim99 Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Literally undecimate

        Shirley, it's "nonumate" as it applies to 1 in 9 (~11%)?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Literally undecimate

          Romanum ite domus!

    5. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Decimation

      Dude, it's close enough.

      C.

      1. seven of five Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: Decimation

        "Close enough"? They use hand grenades for literal decimation? only in the US...

      2. Scott 53
        Headmaster

        Re: Decimation

        When the article states "close to decimating", the inference is that they have got rid of slightly less than 10%. The actual figure is 11%, so "more than decimated" would be appropriate.

    6. Imhotep Silver badge

      Re: Literally decimates?

      If you decimated the decimated, that would get you to 11%.

    7. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Literally decimates?

      Decimate - As frequently actioned by IBM Management on the workforce

      (Posted 3 days ago...)

      https://forums.theregister.com/forum/all/2021/01/08/something_for_the_weekend/#c_4183626

    8. Halfmad

      Re: Literally decimates?

      Also technically decimation in the Roman Legions meant the other 9 co-workers beating the 10th to death. It wasn't a simple execution. It was murdering someone who'd perhaps spent a decade living beside, it was collective punishment, not just for the person with the short stick..

      89% of Dropbox's workforce will be largely untouched by these changes.. except IT who will obviously be expected to pick up "the slack" with fewer resources.

      1. Jim Whitaker

        Re: Literally decimates?

        And the horror of that punishment for mutiny is one of the reasons why really dislike it when people misuse the term. (I'll allow 11% as close enough for government work or journalism. ;-) )

    9. Nick

      Re: Literally decimates?

      I made a bet with myself that this thread would be all about decimation and not Dropbox... I'm getting the hang of this place.

  2. Korev Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    In recent years, Dropbox has tried to move itself from a biz that simply provides cloud storage for companies to one that they use for online collaboration.

    I don't want all this bollocks, I just want to synchronise, backup and sometimes share some files. If Dropbox continue to lose this focus then people will just move away.

    1. TimMaher Silver badge
      Pint

      Lose focus.

      Spot on @Korev.

      I had forgotten that they existed until this article.

      Have a beer —————->

    2. FordPrefect

      On the other hand for business they have a plethora of options most of which bundle in other capabilities into neat little package ie google apps or microsoft 365. Whilst there are some that might just want a cloud drive and the ability to share files most organisations seem to want more than that and currently the big drive in organisations is for convergence of services instead of having 100 different providers and having to manage multiple contracts and having to somehow integrate hundreds of apps they can goto a handful of vendors.

      1. BitGin

        Fine

        But don't expect users who aren't interested in all that bollox to fund you while you do it by automatically doubling their annual fee by increasing their storage quota when they aren't even close to needing it.

        Also, maybe, if you must come up with bollox, maker sure it's useful bollox that people want... Instead of a web browser in a file syncing app. We already have plenty of web browsers.

      2. Martin M

        You’re right. File sync and share is really a feature now, not a product, for most. Not all, of course, but enough that Dropbox will struggle.

      3. Martin M

        You’re right. File sync and share is really a feature now, not a product.

    3. ecofeco Silver badge

      Well said.

      Dropbox's user interface has also been a useless mess for years. Maybe they should focus on that.

    4. cyberdemon Silver badge
      Devil

      > I don't want all this bollocks, I just want to synchronise, backup and sometimes share some files.

      Exaxtly.

      And when they decided to drop Linux users unless they use an outdated filesystem, it didn't even do that anymore.

      They could have just ceased "official support" for other filesystems. But no, they decided to make their software try to force Linux users to migrate their filesystem. To me as a paid customer, that was aggressive, pig-headed and rude.

      So Rather than migrate backwards from Btrfs to Ext4, I migrated from paid Dropbox to FOSS Syncthing, and never looked back.

      1. steelpillow Silver badge

        >> I don't want all this bollocks, I just want to synchronise, backup and sometimes share

        Exactly, even.

        What has been missing from their strategy for a long time has been the stepped upgrade path. A few gigs free is handy but the SOHO user, who vastly outnumbers the corporate, wants neither in-your-face adware and reminders of what they are not paying for, nor excessive annual fees and UI complexity of the "WTF did I do just then?" variety. What is needed is an intermediate user level offering ad/nag-free storage up to half-decent levels for maybe $5-10 per gig per year.

        Then, the influencers on any corporate buy are more likely than ever to be Linux fans and use it at home if not for work. Dropping support was massively short-sighted and has lost a generation of Dropbox advocates.

        Oh, and requiring cross-site javascript just to frickin' log on via the web is particularly mental for anybody who aspires to "secure" services. For the little guy at their remote desk it's about privacy, for the big corporate itself it's about MITM/injection/yadda yadda.

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: >> I don't want all this bollocks, I just want to synchronise, backup and sometimes share

          Dropping support was massively short-sighted and has lost a generation of Dropbox advocates.

          They would be so lucky as only losing that generation, they turned them completely to advocate against Dropbox.

          Oh, and requiring cross-site javascript just to frickin' log on via the web is particularly mental for anybody who aspires to "secure" services. For the little guy at their remote desk it's about privacy, for the big corporate itself it's about MITM/injection/yadda yadda.

          Another truly stupid move pissing off another set of advocates (though there is overlap).

  3. fnusnu

    For the same price as 5 Onedrive licenses oh and the Office Apps suite too.

    Goodbye Dropbox.

    1. Halfmad

      This is my problem too, value.

      Dropbox just can't seem to compete with alternatives and rather than realising it's the root cost that's the issue they think throwing useless fluff on top will tempt me. Not going to happen.

      I just want the basics, so why can't I have somewhere to backup to cheaply on their service and pay for what I use, rather than what they want to sell me? That's fundamentally the issue - value for money, it's better elsewhere.

      1. J.Teodor

        And they have the oddest packages. Smallest and cheapest I can get is 2TB for €9.99/month if I pay yearly. How about 100GB package for €1.99/month, because frankly, that is all I need.

        My photos are at Google already, my documents and backups are at OneDrive - but since a lot of my family seems to like simplicity of Dropbox and its sharing, I would happily pay a bit for them. But not €120 for service and size that I don't need.

        TL,DR: offer useful package size and don't try to be anything but online storage.

        1. anothercynic Silver badge

          Indeed...

          ... I find the step up from Free to the first paid tier too steep.

          I don't need 2TB.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      One word: lock-in.

      I actually like being able to separate application from storage and Microsoft has yet to demonstrate that they deserve my trust.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Microsoft has repeatedly demonstrated that they don't deserve my trust.

    3. Screwed

      Despite already being uncompetitive, they increased the storage allowance at the bottom rung in a mad attempt to increase apparent value. When many were using way less than their existing allowance. And applied a considerable increase in price charged.

      So they lost me. Yet I still use their "free" option for convenience. (Lots of people had links to some files on Dropbox. Easier to allow that to continue than to try to force them all to change.)

  4. just_some_dude

    I dumped them a while back since they counted files shared with you against your quota. I'm not sure what their policy is now but I doubt they are offering anything compelling enough to make me give them another try. If they offered e2e encryption with a client supported by my NAS then that would be a different story.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Sure... I gave up when I could no longer sync files that synced fine months prior. I didn't even use it much, I synced once about every 3 months. They claimed nothing changed, but once files start timing out in queue places where they once didn't, they just can't state nothing has changed... unless... they want me to believe I'm stupid and it's user error by not understanding how to use my own device and I should go find a Apple/BestBuy agent to help poor little me... that's the feeling I got.

  5. Yet Another Hierachial Anonynmous Coward

    Is it just me.....

    Or does anyone else think Dropbox is the most anal, complicated and pointless way of sharing anything? I have several clients who insist on using it, and I have not, in like 3 years or more, figured out how it works, or how to organise things. Each time I start it I seem to end up in a different view, the lack of "buttons" on the inconsistent interface to actually do anything is appalling. I have no idea which clients can upload or download to where. If I download more than a couple of files I cannot download anymore without logging out and back in again.

    The people I have discussed it with all seem to have the same opinion that it is a pile of steaming dog turd, and that running an FTP server 25 years ago was better organised and more logical.

    I can only imagine the whole concept was dreamed up by 6 year olds with no clue about computing to share cat videos with other 6 year olds.

    I will not miss them one little bit when they go under.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Is it just me.....

      "the inconsistent interface"

      If they have to make work by faffing with the UI they have too many staff.

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Is it just me.....

      No, it's not just you. What should be a really simple operation, and was at one time, has become some kind of byzantine puzzle game.

    3. Fred Goldstein

      Re: Is it just me.....

      Yep, it confuses the hell out of me.

      Worse, it doesn't just act as a repository, it seems to want to peek into files. We were using it to pass around a moby (~50MB) Excel spreadsheet. Rather than just let me download it, it insisted on trying to open it internally and create some kind of Javascript display of its output. Which, being moby, basically croaked the browser and didn't make the computer itself happy at all. And it thus failed at its one simple real task. I had my collaborator turn it into a ZIP file or rename it something like .docxno just so that Dropbox wouldn't try to open it.

    4. AJ MacLeod

      Re: Is it just me.....

      "I can only imagine the whole concept was dreamed up by 6 year olds with no clue about computing to share cat videos with other 6 year olds."

      Not so many years ago Dropbox actually worked very well indeed. I'd guess that was because it was still mainly a company run by people who knew what they were doing (i.e. not marketers, managers or financial "wizards")

      In the past four or five years maybe everything has changed - forcing the use of one particular filesystem on Linux was the screaming siren that told me the company really was on the way out.

      Another thing was the way they treated resellers (including me) outside the US - we ended up being fobbed off onto Ingram Micro and from there on it has been one long sorry mess of random invoices for random amounts and total loss of clarity on access to customer Dropbox accounts.

    5. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Is it just me.....

      I don't it's great for one-off sharing but for friends and family it's pretty good: just set up the right folders and forget about it. A bigger PITA was the restriction in the number of clients.

      Fortunately, because I got Dropbox early and Samsung did a deal with them, I've got a free account that is big enough to be useful. The paid tier is far too much to be interesting and also carries the risk of lock in.

  6. Altrux

    Flakey software

    Their software is a nightmare, particularly the Linux client. We are pretty heavy users of their business subscription, and when Dropbox decides to have an arbitrary meltdown, it sometimes takes literally /days/ to re-index the 200,000 or so files in our repository. It clearly cannot cope with what it's designed to do - after all, we're using less than 10% of our total space allocation!

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Flakey software

      Maybe look at rClone rather than the official DropBox client?

  7. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    “one of the toughest decisions I’ve had to make"

    I'm sure your end-of-year bonus will reflect that.

    Oh, and would you mind explaining how "growth" is prepared by sacking people ?

  8. First Light Silver badge

    Pandemic end?

    Six months to the "effective end" of the Pandemic?

    That's a bit optimistic considering all the anti-vaxxer nuts and the ones who still believe it's a hoax. It will have to spread enough to give all of them herd immunity.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pandemic end?

      Or we could just lift lockdown for those confirmed as being vaccinated, and anyone not vaccinated ends up in lockdown permanently :-)

      1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

        Re: Pandemic end?

        So the vaccinated then become transmission vectors to pass the virus to their unvaccinated friends and family? Nice.

        There have already been public statements that being vaccinated does not appear to prevent transmission, it merely significantly lowers the risk of becoming infected, and of serious problems from infection.

        Even if such a policy were enacted, here in the UK that still means waiting around 12 weeks for the second jab, then another few weeks for that to fully take effect. Vaccination is not the quick and easy solution it might seem, even for those who've already had their first jab.

        Also consider that most shops, offices, factories, entertainment, hospitality etc. won't have enough staff to open safely, or at all, for at least several months, due to vacine rollout phases. So even though people who're fully vaccinated might be able to safely use retail, hospitality etc, there won't be anything open for them to use.

    2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Pandemic end?

      It will have to spread enough to give all of them herd immunity.

      Can't it just kill them off?

      1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

        Re: Pandemic end?

        Sadly neither fast enough, nor effective enough, to wipe out useful numbers of them. Now, Ebola... that's more like the disease of choice for antivaxers.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Remember Kim DotCom?

    His company Megaupload was shut down with prejudice by the authorities, and many customers who relied on the service simply lost all their data.

    *

    Just work out how it takes to RECOVER terabytes (petabytes) across the network if you think your "cloud" provider might shut up shop without warning.

    *

    Makes "on premises" and Iron Mountain backups sound pretty attractive, doesn't it?

    *

    What am I missing here?

    1. billat29

      Re: Remember Kim DotCom?

      "What am I missing here?"

      The buzzword bingo.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Remember Kim DotCom?

      Some people managed to get 60TB from a recently deceased sowshal meedja platform in a timely fashion...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What am I missing here?

      a clear point?

    4. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Remember Kim DotCom?

      Obviously you need more than one cloud, so you have backup clouds and are never without a cloud.

      Much like the British weather.

    5. David Neil

      Re: Remember Kim DotCom?

      relaunched as Mega.NZ in 2013, still ticking along

  10. Peter Galbavy

    I used to pay them money, but they kept offering a new tier of service about once a year and, silently, donwgrading the performance of the lower tiers - not just the extra storage or features of the new ones. Number of API calls per second / hour / day etc. and their support just pretended that there was no changes. I stopped paying them money and instead just use an S3 bucket (yes, protected) with rclone for out-of-home backup with another on Backblaze. The cost works out a little higher but both of those publish their performance commitments.

  11. Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

    "One of the toughest decisions"

    Oh diddums. Don't you love it when a guy at the top tries to reframe the ruining of people's lives as all being about him? British prime ministers do this a lot too: "I struggled with this decision for ages and now I'm jolly upset about it; think about me me me me me me and my pouty lip, not about those I am casting into the pit of mid-recession unemployment."

  12. John Sturdy
    WTF?

    Not the provider I would choose for my password manager

    A company that appointed a supporter of warrantless wiretapping (Condoleeza Rice) to its board is not going to get to store my password collection.

  13. Nick

    "More efficient and nimble”?

    “More efficient and nimble”? How about a bit less crap and a lot less frustrating? That would be where I'd start.

    Failing that, why not just buy Evernote and double-down on the useful-but-broken market.

  14. Graham 32

    How many price lists does one company need?

    It would help if they could just advertise their prices properly.

    I went to dropbox.com which showed the Individual-Professional plan as 19.99GBP. Ouch! That's hardly cheap. There are some cheaper (per user) Team accounts but they have minimum of 3 users. These are Team-Standard and Team-Advanced.

    I thought "I'm sure it's cheaper than that" cos I have friends who use Dropbox and no way they pay £20 a month. So I clicked the "Plans & Pricing" link to https://www.dropbox.com/plans

    Now there are the three plans I saw before and a lower Individual-Plus account at £8.99. Most people would have left before finding this price!

    Oddly, the other prices are all different than the previous page. They look like the same prices without VAT but it doesn't say. I hope that £8.99 is including VAT.

    Given the business focus I thought I'd try a private window. The opposite of my expectation happens - it becomes even more businessy. The same homepage URL now says it is "Dropbox Business" and the price link is now called "Compare plans" linking to: https://www.dropbox.com/business/plans-comparison

    This has Individual-Professional, Team-Standard, Team-Advanced, and, here's another plan, Team-Enterprise.

    How the hell is anyone supposed to navigate this crap?

  15. Ol'Peculier

    Why do companies seem to want to diversify their product into so many different areas? Teamviewer is another one, I don't want to use them for video conferencing, just to remotely log onto other PCs. Same as Dropbox, all I want to do is synch files over multiple computers and servers. If I want to share a spreadsheet with somebody. I'll use Office 365 or Google.

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Why diversify? Likely because they feel that they have to in order try to remain vaguely relevant and to have a business in five years time. Certain monopolies have moved into their space and are actively pushing them out. For example, Windows could have come with a file sync/remote storage API allowing users or administrators to deploy the solution of their choice equally, however instead Microsoft embedded support for OneDrive in at a low level and made it much harder for competing applications to provide anything similar.

  16. WolfFan Silver badge

    DropBox changed their free tier to limit it to just three devices allowed to connect, and advised me to move to a pay tier. I killed all but two connections, and removed all items from my DB folders. Now I use DB strictly as a way to move items onto the iPad (Marvin, the ebook reader I use in preference to Apple’s ebook reader, because it’s less annoying, grabs books from DB; I put an EPUB into DB, import it into Marvin, remove it from DB) and not a bloody thing else. No, I’m not paying them a bloody penny. Yes, I’m on to the Marvin devs about putting in support for OneDrive or iCloud.

  17. AlanSh

    I use Synology now

    All I ever needed was to share files with various people and to get pictures from my phone to my PC as I took them. DB was ideal for that (and still is). But their interface sucks and I am very limited in what I can upload and the picture syncing is so flaky it's untrue.

    Now I have my NAS Synology boxes with terabytes of free space and can do everything for me. Shame, DB was brilliant in the early days, but it's been overtaken.

  18. MachDiamond Silver badge

    There are options most people forget about

    One of my things is photography. On the discussion boards within my genre there is often talk about services to deliver images to the client. Nobody seems to believe me when I write that if they have a proper hosting service, they have FTP space they can use to deliver jobs. I think it looks better when I can send customers a link that from my own URL. It's also easy. I just upload the file(s) to my FTP space and send the customer a link they can click to download the photos. How simple is that? The best thing is that it costs me nothing extra for that. If I were to get really busy, I might need to bump my plan, but that would be far cheaper than subscribing to DropBox or any other dedicated service. I also keep my portfolio and some other documents available in case I need them, forms and such. I have several portfolios that I can send a link for so a customer or potential customer can just download the whole thing to review later rather than having to be online to see them.

    Another aspect is that I control the data. I'm not uploading to a server that's a big fat target. I'm not all that worried about my work or any file that I have online getting me in trouble, but there could be a day when there is. I do have images (not nudies) that I have never released and may never release of a traumatic nature from my journalism files. It's all been registered with the copyright office, but a leak may not point to somebody that can be sued. I can't trust AWS, M$ or any other service to take care of those images. They don't care.

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