back to article Dropbox drops 16% of staff, points finger at hard-up customers and AI

Dropbox axed 500 employees, or 16 per cent of its workforce, on Thursday as the online storage biz pivots to AI amid slowing growth. CEO Drew Houston said in a canned statement the layoffs were the result of an economic downturn, following the peak working-from-home cloud frenzy of the pandemic, and the arrival of an "AI era …

  1. Samsara

    Maybe if Dropbox stopped doing idiotic things like removing external drive support for Mac users, they would retain more of their customers!

    1. Korev Silver badge

      God yeah.

      I want Dropbox to do two things:

      * Synchronise my files between my computers and NAS

      * Provide an offsite copy of my data in case something bad happens to Korev Towers

      I don't give a crap about the other stuff they're trying to do!

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Now that Dropbox is more of a web app on Mac rather than something that is much more integrated, I've not been using it. I cancelled my subscription and now just use the free storage so my website backups don't need my computer to be on and the plug-in for Wordpress works well with DropBox. I would have liked to have seen them add more controllability so I don't have to manage my files as much manually.

    3. LybsterRoy Silver badge

      If they stopped doing idiotic things why would they need over 3,000 staff? Actually why do they need over 3,000 staff anyway?

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        To persuade enterprise customers to buy into their stuff and get deeply embedded enough that they keep paying when Microsoft finally get Azure / OneDrive / Teams / Outlook / SMB to all play nicely together to do all this stuff automatically

    4. TheFifth

      Agreed. All I wanted was about 250GB of off-site space to sync up some work. Dropbox only offers 2TB minimum and the app has become a bloated mess of 'Enterprise' and 'Team' features. I don't want any of that, I just want a good value cloud sync service.

      I cancelled Dropbox and purchased 260GB of lifetime space on Koofr for what amounts to about six months worth of the cheapest Dropbox subscription. It's a few years down the line now and Koofr has been working flawlessly. The data is all kept in Europe too, which I prefer. I also like that it allows me to setup multiple sync folders anywhere on my system, including external drives. It doesn't have anywhere near the number of features that Dropbox has, but that's why I love it. It does what it does well.

      In my opinion, Dropbox lost its way.

    5. chololennon

      RE: Maybe if Dropbox stopped doing idiotic things...

      "Maybe if Dropbox stopped doing idiotic things like removing external drive support for Mac users..."

      Or forcing Linux users to use ext4. They lost me several years ago... Nowadays I am a happy user of MEGA (which encrypts my data in their servers, has a decent Linux/Android clients, and not least, the free storage is much larger than what Dropbox offers)

  2. TReko


    It is hard to compete with the sync app now included by Microsoft in Windows 10.

    1. James Anderson

      Re: OneDrive

      Don't know about file sharing on MS, but if you use Google Drive it syncs the files you want, and its much easier to share files with other users than using Dropbox.

      Their core product is redundant as MS and Google offer better integrated sync and file sharing along with much much more.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: OneDrive

      I had two DropBox accounts, a free one for personal use I have used for almost a decade and a Corporate plan for 300 people.

      I changed computers and lost access to my DropBox. My free account was tied to an email I no longer had access to so password reset was out of the question. Could not contact support as they no longer offer support on free accounts. Eventually found the password and gained access to the files, but to change the email (or any settings) it had to send an email to the existing (and wrong) address. So I downloaded my files, moved the Dropbox corp files to OneDrive and cancelled both the free account and the Corporate one.

      My phone rang within 15 min of my cancelation email and when I explained why I was leaving they promised to update my personal account email, but it was too late. We've had a lot of issues with them over the years and this was the proverbial straw. In my book, you treat your smallest customer like you treat your largest. I know of two other corps that closed out their accounts as well and they were much larger than mine.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: OneDrive

        "Eventually found the password and gained access to the files, but to change the email (or any settings) it had to send an email to the existing (and wrong) address."

        To be fair to them, that's a pretty standard security feature, to prevent someone who has your password from locking you out of everything in perpetuity. Unless you have a second factor that is trusted to also change the email, they would have no way of verifying that you are who you say you are instead of someone who guessed or stole a string.

        As for support, I agree with the sentiment, but companies rarely treat the people on the free trial program the same as ones who spend a lot of money. It's not that crazy when you consider the number of free Dropbox accounts they must have from years of offering the service; I have at least two of those, neither of which is used anymore. I don't think someone running a contracting business would treat someone they helped out for free a few months ago the same as their primary client for whom they've been working full-time for years, and Dropbox has a similar situation just scaled up to millions of accounts.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: OneDrive

        "My free account was tied to an email I no longer had access to so password reset was out of the question"

        You'd think that with 3,000 employees, there would be some group that thought up these sorts of common issues and ways to address them. I've dropped services when they haven't had a simple and clean process for dealing with what I would suspect is a common issue. If they can't get that much right, are they worth dealing with at all?

        The cable company has very few CSR's to answer the phone and when I need to call about my service being out, the recording keeps repeating how I might find the answer I need by "Visiting our award-winning web site" instead of remaining on hold. The trouble is that with my internet being out, I can't. That's what I'm calling about. When I do get through, I have to deal with somebody that just learned how to use a computer and insists I work through their whole script with them when it seems they don't have any way to tell if there is a system outage in my area and the status. I have to get to a 2nd or 3rd level support person before they can see there are several reports in my area and a trouble ticket has been initiated.

        I had a friend that was really good at wheedling free service from the cable company. Through trouble reports he at one point had a full year of free service and several premium channels at no cost. Porno Mike had no shame.

  3. sbegrupt

    Perhaps, it's just that all poor souls using Dropbox on macOS had almost a whole year to suffer, contemplate life, and cancel their Dropbox subscription while Dropbox HQ was leisurely contemplating whether to implement the new Apple File Provider API well?

  4. Alistair Silver badge

    Buzzword bingo in the boardroom

    Someone said AI! Lets lay people off!

  5. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    The Pivot

    Musk is sharing his personal vitamins?

  6. trevorde Silver badge

    One thing missing

    Blockchain! It's got to have blockchain. Everything has to have blockchain. And quantum computing. And virtual reality. And ...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    These transitions are never easy

    aka 'I feel your pain and wish you great success in your new job, now fuck off!'

    p.s. presumably this bullshit was written by 'AI', no?

    1. Handlebars

      Re: These transitions are never easy

      It reads like it was written like AI but really this is how hr types actually write. The AI just learned that style.

      1. Derezed

        Re: These transitions are never easy

        That’s not HR, that’s c-suite grade bullshit.

        Not only was it authentic frontier gibberish, it expressed a delusion little seen in this day and age.

        Echo chamber, emperor’s new clothes. AI. Whatever.

  8. psychonaut

    One drive..

    Their 30 quid per month mimimum business service has been made unnecessary by one drive for business, which is free with any 365 business subscription, 99 pc of my clients are on 365. So no need for Dropbox. Although, to be fair, one drive isn't as reliable as Dropbox. However, what with entire 365 ecosystem being cheaper per user (basic is 80vquid a year) than a single Dropbox user (£100 per year) I can't see where they fit in anymore.

  9. ChoHag Silver badge


    What do the other 2101 people do?

    1. ChoHag Silver badge

      I hope my inability to do fractions before coffee doesn't distract from the real point behind this tired old joke.

  10. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Cloudy file storage app

    If I subscribed to Dropbox it was for one reason : an easy way to share large (non-confidential) files with my friends.

    It was a simple and practical idea, and the free storage was enough.

    Then the Board got caught up in its own success and started hallucinating that Dropbox could be much, much more than just online storage.

    Well, to put it bluntly, it can't. Dropbox is trying to shove the kitchen sink into something nobody wants a sink in, much less a kitchen.

    But hey, I get it : the only thing you wanted to do was monetize, and monetizing storage has dismal returns. Well I'm sorry, but for me Dropbox will always be online storage and nothing more. Just like I don't have my insurance at my bank, despite every bank getting into the act in the past twenty years.

    I like things simple. My bank is there, my insurance is (a different) there, my online storage is there (and there), my email is in many places (but not Outlook) and my LibreOffice is here, locally stored, just the way I like it.

    Now get off my lawn.

    1. gcarter

      Re: Cloudy file storage app

      My thoughts exactly!

      When they first came on the scene 16 year ago (bloody nora that long) it was wonderful to have a free offering to back shit up and yeah to share larger files which were impossible to email.

      Problem was, the big boys took note aka google and Microsoft, who provided the same kind of thing but offered more storage!

      Fast forward to present day and the dropbox monthly plan for the jo public costs £7.99 and you get 2tb for one user

      Microsoft 365 family monthly plan costs £7.99 and you get 6tb of total storage across 6 separate accounts, and the full suite of registered office apps to boot!

      No offence to dropbox, but you got beat, now go throw your toys out of the pram and go become pig farmers!

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Cloudy file storage app

        "Problem was, the big boys took note aka google and Microsoft, who provided the same kind of thing but offered more storage!"

        The reason I've kept the free DropBox around is so I can have automatic backing up of my web site. I get a load of storage with my hosting account so there's no point in paying somebody else to be able to transfer large files. Since I have my own domains and hosting, I can accept large emails and have addresses just for that while I put caps on my more public facing email addresses to prevent abuse.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Cloudy file storage app

      "I like things simple. My bank is there, my insurance is (a different) there, my online storage is there (and there), my email is in many places (but not Outlook) and my LibreOffice is here, locally stored, just the way I like it."

      I do the same thing as one service can go Tango Uniform and leave you with lots of holes to plug where it's much less likely to have several companies all cease at once. I've had tight times and needed to prioritize paying some bills over others. If my internet, TV (which I don't have anymore), cell and landline phones were all through one service, I'd have to pay that bill or everything would go off rather than just the TV. There's also bound to be some companies which are more lenient than others.

  11. steelpillow Silver badge

    The last straw

    So now I am going to find some stupid AI telling me how to manage my cloud backups and hiding the stuff I am looking for because it thinks their filenames are boring.

    Until AI gets smart enough to know when it is not wanted, it looks like I'll be back to external HD and an encrypted USB stick in the car's glove compartment. But maybe I'll give WebDAV/OwnCloud type stuff a revisit first, just in case they don't suck as much as they used to.

  12. bunnywarren

    I used the free 2GB Dropbox allowance and found I needed more. I went to their website and saw a single offering of 2TB for about £10. I then went to Google Drive and found it cheaper (£8) but also smaller sized options that better fitted my need for even less. Dropbox didn't even get a second look from me.

  13. navarac Bronze badge

    I find Dropbox far better than OneDrive - seems faster to respond. However, I've always been cautious about the viability of cloud storage, and still keep off-line backups, as I did BC (before cloud)! You can never be too sure.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is "shipping early-stage products" another way of saying "shipping products before they've been properly tested" ?

  15. Derezed


    They kept spamming me with eye wateringly expensive offers for cloud storage. I removed the dreck I had stored there and shut my account. No more spam! Reason given? Not an end consumer product.

  16. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Who to trust with out files?




    IMHO, the ONLY thing DropBox has going for it is that isn't one of the other two (for the time being)

    I certainly don't trust Google or Microsoft to not scan my data and send me targeted advertising as a result.

    As I don't pay either Google or MS even one bent penny a year, the choice for me is pretty obvious but TBH, my need for any of these services these days is just about nudging 0.00000001.

    As for AI being to blame... Time for a new CEO.

  17. James O'Shea Silver badge


    In the Beginning, there was DropBox, which gave a fair amount o storage for free, and I could access it on any of my devices, and the price for getting more storage should I need it wasn't too outrageous.

    At about the same time, there was iCloud. Free storage, but the price for adding more was greater than than what DB charged. Still, I could access it from any device. And there was GoogleDrive. More storage than iCloud and DB combined, access from any device, and free. Additional storage available for a reasonable rate. And SkyDrive, which became OneDrive after Murdoch's Minions tried to extort cash from the Beast of Redmond. Vast amounts of free storage, accessible from any device. I mostly used cloudy storage to move things from one machine to another.

    And then, DB restricted free accounts to only three devices, significantly reducing its value. Frankly, the only reason I had to keep it was that Marvin, an ebook reader on iOS that I like, uses DropBox as one way to load new books. I don't need to move that many books to Marvin; I put DB on one Mac, iPad, and WinBox. And I didn't go to a paid account.

    Meanwhile, I have multiple OneDrive accounts with 1TB each (a 'personal' account, thanks to Office365, and three 'business' accounts, thanks to various people I do or did things for. You can have one personal and multiple business accounts live simultaneously. I had cloudy storage overflowing. Apple did the unthinkable and cut prices. I cranked up my iCloud account. DB _increased_ prices. And Marvin has joined the Choir Eternal. Frankly, the others deliver more storage to _all_ devices much more cheaply. Why, exactly, do I need DB? Even the free version?

  18. CowHorseFrog

    They need to hire more CxO and fire all those parasite engineers.

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