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Drew Houston - CEO and Founder of Dropbox

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  • leaf orange style avatar for user Jeff Kelman
    At , the speaker says "...and you know I had to get my dad to sign all their employment paperwork..."

    I wonder how a child with abusive or super busy parents would have fared in a similar situation who would either refuse or not have the time to "sign the paperwork."

    Seems to me like a major lapse in how child labor laws function and were supposed to protect kids, but how in reality can do a great deal of harm by not freeing an innovative child to work for themselves at ANY age. WORK does not have to mean working in a coal mine 100 meters underground with no light...work can consist of a child prodigy who learns on a site like Khan Academy and wants to make their own company at 8 years old. I wonder how many other brilliant children could have started companies like Dropbox if they were free to do so unimpeded by the need to get their parents or the governments permission...
    (24 votes)
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  • piceratops seed style avatar for user siddu parannavar
    I have Interview so which is better way to start conversation?
    (2 votes)
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  • old spice man green style avatar for user Josephpierresix
    Owning my own business means that I can make decisions about my own life. Even though there are risks, something in me wouldn't let me slave away for someone else with nothing to show for it in the end. So, a desire to make my own destiny was the primary reason. Also, my parents worked conventional jobs and neither was an entrepreneur. My mother was a teacher and I saw how much she wanted to do for the students and was unable to because of administration and politics.
    (8 votes)
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    • leaf green style avatar for user Scott Kessey
      First of all you should never feel that your are a "slave" to someone else or you are clearly in the wrong job or profession. You will likely work longer hours and have more stress while working for yourself. That's fine but don't be naïve that it's easy working for your self. That being said, don't lose this entrep. spirit. Probably best to start off working for a company in the same industry so you can learn the business first...then step out when you recognize a market segment that is under served.
      (1 vote)
  • starky ultimate style avatar for user Brian Hutzell
    One of my favorite aspects of these conversations is when Sal gets the interviewee to provide details of the actual process of growing from a kid tinkering in the garage to a successful entrepreneur. I would be interested in putting that under the microscope to an even greater degree of magnification. All of us get 24 hours every day, yet not all of us get into MIT or Harvard or Stanford, and even those who do go to institutions of that caliber do not all go on to become a Sal Khan or Drew Houston. How did young Sal or Drew spend their days differently than how Joe or Jane Average spent their days?
    (5 votes)
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  • leaf blue style avatar for user Michael Fied
    Regarding time management as mentioned - I would highly recommend https://www.rescuetime.com.
    (4 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user Nicholas Talamantez
    Who is Drew Houston? :(
    (2 votes)
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  • male robot hal style avatar for user Greg the Ghost
    Mr. Houston recommends reading business-related books. Are most of these similar, or are some superior? Are there any types to avoid? Can anyone recommend any particularly useful business guides?
    (2 votes)
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  • duskpin tree style avatar for user riley
    bing chilling
    (2 votes)
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  • orange juice squid orange style avatar for user Kutili
    English is not my first language so I didn't understand at when Sal says ,,She's remotely" What does that mean?
    (1 vote)
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    • duskpin ultimate style avatar for user LightningThief
      Remotely definition:

      1. From a distance; without physical contact.
      Example: "He can control the TV remotely."

      2. In the slightest degree.
      Example: "She has never been remotely jealous."

      "She's remotely," in this case Sal meant that she is some distance away.

      I hope this helps. :)
      (3 votes)
  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user palhares.f
    I was quite intrigued he didn't mention Space Race at any point, since I always thought that was a pivotal moment for Dropbox, to make it knows amongst university students and stuff. Do anyone have an idea of the impact of Space Race on Dropbox growth?
    (1 vote)
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Video transcript

- So, excited to have Drew Houston in here, very well known figure amongst kind of our team out here. And for those who are maybe watching this video later, founder of Dropbox, how many how many billions of people do have using? I know, it's more like hundreds of millions only. - 300 million. - And only 300 million people - using it file sharing what we'll talk more about that. But, the way I view these things, it's definitely for our team to kind of meet and talk to really interesting people in Silicon Valley and beyond but also for kind of just the general Khan Academy user base out there to kind of get exposure to really interesting people in Silicon Valley and beyond. And with that lens, I always think of kind of myself when I was 12 or 13 years old and when I used to watch like Johnny Carson, and I always used to wonder, like, how do you know who are these people? How do they do that, like what about like major in in order to become that person. And so I kind of want to have a little bit of that land. So I'll start there. When you were a kid, kind of what did you see yourself doing or becoming? And how did you try to set that up? - So my path started when I was really little. So my my parents had PC Junior. So my very first computer when I was really little. So first I would just play computer games on it but a couple years later, when my dad got showed me how there's a thing on the computer called Basic. And so I was lucky, they showed me how to write so my first lines of code and I was like a really little. - Like how little? - I was five. - That's good. - Yeah my son needs to get in line. (laughs) - And it turns out, when you're little like that you have a lot of free time on your hands. And so, I was always like playing on the computer and I really loved playing games. And so that was actually why I want to learn programming is to learn how to make games, how these things worked and like I want to insert of my exploration of how the computer worked, I would figure out like, oh, there's like this... There's like files and like, okay then when I save a game. Like I can go into that file and like give myself like 32,767 lives, it's like, all these little things like that. - And if only I could access this file from home and kindergarten. - Moving this floppy drive around, yeah. So I thought it was gonna be computer games. That was what I would does was interested in beginning as then as far as a job I start up babysitting, - Really? - So I was very good at it like watching I was like 12 near 11 and like I would, the parents would leave I put the kids to bed. And I like as regular watching like HBO and like, this is like a requirement. I can only like babysit for, like, families that had like good TV and like Pringles and things like that. - Then if they didn't do that is a red flag, or your focal point was their cable. - Exactly. And then like, trying to like. And then sometimes I'd be like watching something probably, like I shouldn't be watching. They'd be like, shooting or like bad words. And I was very good like listening from when the lock went in there the key were in the lock. - Oh yes. - Anyway, this has nothing to do with starting a company, - Some time it will. - But then I got a little bit of an upgrade on the job front, I was beta testing a game. And an online game was maybe 14. And they were taking forever to build the game. And so I started getting restless and curious and started poking around under the hood of this game and I found all these security holes. I found all these vulnerabilities. Anyway first you discover these things. You're like, oh, my God, oh, my God. I started impersonating, like the developers and things like that and sort of making like a little bit of trouble but then I'm like, I sent him an email and like guys you're really you should fix this, you should fix this. And you shouldn't have done this this way you should have done this way. And I'm like, really getting into it. And they're like, well, do you want to work here? And so I ended up working remotely as an engineer are like they're like, do you want to fix those bugs? And I'm like okay. And then this is the first kind of startup adventure first experience of many where my stock up since we were worth nothing. - Yes this 14 years old. - That's 14. - 14 years old. - And this is part time remote - but it was like a cool thing to talk about and like, biology class. Anyway I had to get my dad to sign all the employment paperwork and things like that. So, but that was the path of this I was literally working on a game. But then fortunately there as we learn there's a lot of other things in life. Beyond like, Unreal Tournament, which are really interesting. - Beyond what? - Unreal Tournament or Starcraft at apoint. - Unreal Tournament yes that's it. - That's a little later on, like PC era was like more like the Sierra games like - Yes. - Kiddy Quest - for something that, you guys weren't born yet. - For me it was Pong. - Okay. - Yeah, that was I'm a little older. - We're losing up. (laughs) - Yes I'm little bit we have a little overlap. And then you go to MIT many of us have been there as well. And I watched your commencement speech. (audience laughs) I watched your commencement speech, which was great. It helped that the guy before you really set a new low in terms of commencement speech quality, but your speech was really I thought, a really powerful speech. And I think it kind of hit this issue of like you didn't plan on being, Drew Houston to Dropbox founder, but you did think you were gonna be an entrepreneur. I mean, it seems like while you were in college, you were constantly thinking about starting a business of some kind. - Yes, and your speech was great, too. - I wasn't fishing for that. - No no it was. - It feels good though, - I like it. - You're sort of like, - there's no instruction manual for these things I'm like, you start like googling excessively for like every commencement speech ever given before. Anyway, so but no, I did plan to be... I always was excited about doing something that was my own thing, whether it's making a computer game. And originally, as I learned more about business and starting a company I was always just turned out that I joined startups as an engineer or like an intern, when I was little, and then just didn't never really left. - And you just keep doing that while you were in college I mean, you already had that kind of experience. - Yeah. - So you're starting stuff. Like when your freshman year, summer year, were you doing stuff? - So the the game company unfortunately folded pretty quickly. But that then give me that experience and let me get a job at a local company. There's another startup but it was kind of an MIT founders, so there's kind of a relation there. But yeah, and the summers I would taking classes and then every summer I would go work at first couple years of just the company that I worked at in high school. So they are like maybe, half hour away, half hour outside of Boston. - Yeah and the one thing that I think is mysterious for everyone and even sometimes when people ask me I don't have a clear answer 'cause it's still a little bit mysterious is how do you stumble on this thing that just kind of takes off like wildfire that just... And you have an interest right man, you actually started kind of a little bit closer to kind of what we do here kind of your first startup which I think you started your junior year? - Yeah. - Was around SAT it was called accolade. - Right? So my, you never know where these things are gonna go. 'Cause I mean, I think anybody who grows up programming or whether it's programming or something else, like there's always tinkering with things it's all just one project after another. And for and then the first one I want to start a company I took my junior year off from MIT. So I took it took a year leave, which ended up being a really great experience. And I promised my parents I would come back and I did but so the SAT at the time was changed, there was like all this change happening right. There emerging in the writing section, it's going from 1600 to 2400. Now, I know there's all kinds of other stuff happening. But this was back in the day where to study for the SAT, you'd have to show up at some like horrible classroom and like eight in the morning on a Saturday to listen to some like 17 year old who didn't want to be there either. And all it was just reading out of a book. Like this was the state of the art in like SAT prep and we're like guys like the internet. It's not like the internet as been here for like a little while, it's like it's been here for a long time. And why are we still, it's like how my parents studied for the SAT. And so I teamed up with actually one of my former teachers from high school and we started building a new kind of course an online course for the what was then the new SAT. - And what's your lesson I mean, what 'cause you too, I guess not do that at some point but you worked on it for some time. You did. - It was interesting. So I started working on 'cause I'm like, here's like an opportunity. Here's something that my Co-founder and I knew really well. I mean, I just, I don't know, I treated the SAT... Like one of the things I really like to do is like reverse engineer, like how things work, take things apart. So whether that's, more typical stuff like the kind of tinkering that kids do, or like the finding all the security problems in that game. When I start working on the SAT like I had to study for it, I was like, how does this thing work? And so you can as yo know they're always like little tricks and little patterns you can take advantage of and I'm like, okay, the only the really hard thing about the verbal section is the vocab 'cause like you can, in general you can teach someone how to do a sentence completion without really teaching him it's the words that are hard. So, when I was 16, I wrote all this software to do kind of flashcards and adapt and remember which ones I was getting right and which ones I was getting wrong and things like that, 'cause I didn't want it was too lazy to like cut out all the paper flashcards and I'm like this is so stupid. And so I had done that code actually was kind of on the shelf for five years. And then and then when the SAT changed and I had a friend of mine, who was a teacher who had his own SAT course. And we had this whole shtick going I was at MIT, he had graduated from Harvard, like as a result of all this like reverse engineering SAT and studying a lot for I got to 1600. So I was like, we had all like the boxes checked for the parents and we're like, we know how this works. So that it was really just seeing an opportunity and being like, you don't attach too much of an outcome around it. Like I didn't have a goal, like I need to make this much money or whatever, it's sort of like another interesting project. And probably the best part of that was really just having an excuse to learn about business in like a rigorous way. So and what I mean a rigorous way I mean like I didn't know anything about sales or marketing or finance or like any of these subjects and they all seem very like remote and mysterious and so to combat this I would just go on Amazon and type in like sales and then like find like the top three rated or most popular sales books and just like read them and repeat that. - And you find that valuable? - Like reading. - And it's super useful. - Okay, reading is like one of the probably the most important, reading my business is probably the most important thing that's prepared me for running Dropbox. - And then what was it and you talk a little bit about it in your commencement speech but I find this transition is kind of the most interesting one is you were working on this for two years I think in through graduation. What kind of you know, as hard as you're told to persevere and keep working on something don't give up but at some point, maybe you are kind of putting good time after bad. - Yeah. It was super interesting at the beginning 'cause like and when you first get to work, you get down to such an important orders of business of like, all right. I got to Photoshop a logo and print out business cards as a founder on them and other very important and then hand them out to people so that they know that I'm a founder now, it's like this is like the stuff you. - And I still do that. (laughs) - But then, what you realize is after that kind of after you're like Incorporated and you get your like facts back from the Delaware Secretary of State, and these things all seem very official and important. After you're like, day number 74 of like I gotta take out the trash. Like we got to erase the whiteboard and like all this. You're like actually, this is a lot of work. And which it was good, but... So I think with my first company, neither of us knew what we were doing at all and so we're bootstrapping it. And there's just a lot of kind of manual labor around like we were too cheap to get like employees. (laughs) And we didn't have any money. So, who's gonna write the math questions is like me and I just still remember having to like force myself to like write these math questions and draw these diagrams and be like, all right, so where did the train leave from last time? Okay, this train leaves, Sacramento and so I'm like, God, at some point honestly, I can't do this. - We have people who do that. So it's actually quite fun to do that. - Yeah. (audience laughs) - Seriously I find that I do. - And so but today. (audience laughs). I feel your pain. (laughs) No, no, but the problem wasn't really the work it was just more like we're putting a lot of effort into it and not seeing a lot of return. So it was for me, it wasn't it's kind of lost some of the variety of the work. And so I just got kind of... It just became harder and harder. I felt like I had to push myself like so much like it. And, it just became something I dreaded, it became something where I'd have to trick myself into like making progress. And I'm like, and then I start, it's this like negative spiral, right? 'Cause you're like, you start resenting the work, you start getting mad at yourself 'cause you're like why am I not more disciplined? Your like, why is like why and it's just like, then which makes you present it even more and thinks there's something wrong with yourself like all this like stuff in your head. And then what happened was, I had a friend of mine, who started a company and did things a little bit more properly, like he had a Co-founder who he's like, really good friends with. They raise money, they could just set up the company like a good normal company and then they were just having a blast. They were Working every waking hour but like there was having fun like every minute this is what it looked like and felt like. And so I was like, at first I'm like oh man maybe I'm really defective. Like look, these guys are having no problem with this. But then what happened was I actually started I would find these little side projects and I start working on a poker bot. Again, reverse engineering like people said this is impossible I'm like it as possible. And so I was really good at the security and kind of reverse engineering part of it and could do enough of the AI but it was like this, I was just possessed. Like, I would be like dragging my computers around everywhere. Like my parents would ask had me come up to New Hampshire 'cause we like a little place like this place on a lake where you're like, supposed to get away from technology the next thing I'm like putting like three monitors on like the kitchen stove 'cause there's not enough room and like working on this thing. And so but it turned out I mean, you never know how these things are gonna sort of all line up. But then when I was working on I was still working on the SAT prep company and my friend Adam who I mentioned moved out to San Francisco. And next thing I know he's two years younger than me but the next phone call I get from him, he's like, hey, I've raised five million dollars. And like, I was like that's a lot of money. Like that number has like two commas in it, like what the hell. And this is like, my little brother in our fraternity I'm like, oh, my God. And so, but it just turned out that in part it was sort of the setup was there, like I really loved algorithms and distributed systems and I studied computer science and like, these are my favorite things. And so it sort of sort of fertile ground. And then, one time I lost, I left my thumb drive at home and so I couldn't get any work done for my company. And the sort of non PR, like the director's cut version of sort of the Dropbox origin story. So as taking a ride on the Chinatown Bus, the Fung Wah from from Boston in New York and I left my thumb drive behind and I'm just like, I hate I'm like what do you do in these situations that you're like, Oh, I hate my thumb drive. I'm like, I hate myself. I'm so like, stupid. I'm so disorganized, like I keep doing this, why can't I be better and just the self flagellation. And that's like, there's nothing else to do for like four and a half hours but but I had this three gigabyte Linux virtual machine image, they need to keep in sync across all these computers. 'Cause I have worked on a laptop sometimes, sometimes a desktop, sometimes another computer and like nothing, there are a million things that claim to solve this problem and none of them actually did. And so it was really personal frustration that led me to open up the editor and start writing some code that eventually turned into Dropbox. Although I had no idea that would be the case at that time. - And I mean, I think this is an important moment because a lot of times when you read about Dropbox you say, oh, yeah, he had the idea of having sharing files across multiple devices and all that but whenever I realized now that what's amazing isn't the idea is that you very old idea, in fact, almost anyone who's worked on data storage or anything has for the last 40 years. has been trying to do this. And so to me the power of or almost the audacity of what is this was like a big problem that a lot of really smart people had kind of tried to do as you mentioned maybe even launch companies on it didn't have really complete solutions. What was kind of going on in your head that convinced you that know, like, I think the past that I'm about to take on this problem is going to be the one that works. - Well, it was just so clear from trying all the other things that like, all like 100 things that claim to solve this on paper but in like in practice, they never really worked. And there at school at MIT, they have that you sometimes you like a campus network or an sort of hardcore Unix kind of way of solving this problem, but like for a Windows computer or like a MacBook like there's just you're stuck carrying around a thumb drive and emailing yourself stuff and that was your point I was more just amplify the frustration. I'm like, guys, this is not a new idea. We've thought about this is like the 60s like why does hell am I forced to do this like really made me upset. And then, there's some conviction of it like, look that the problem with like the online drives is like these very specific technical things where it's like it's all a big hack where the way the online drive the AI drives and extra drives and for every letter there's been a drive for all of them that they all worked on the same basic principle which was like, okay, we're gonna trick your applications and operating system into thinking that instead of like, when a program write something to the disk, instead of running it to the disk on the inside the laptop it actually intercepts it sends it over to the internet to server somewhere and gets it back. So, at first glance like this is a great idea will work with everything it's not that hard. But the problem is, you're sent like if the server is 100 milliseconds away, instead of five milliseconds away like your hard drive or less. Then you get all these inexplicable problems because like millions of millions of millions lines of code are all written with assumption that this thing is like five, 10 milliseconds away. And I'm going into detail on this, but it just like this there's like no way you can ever make that work. Like it's just like laws of physics and so you need a completely different approach. And sort of a hybrid where like, okay, you have big and cheap and fast storage locally and on a server it's but it's like two swimming pools connected by a straw, right? And so first use the straw well, and two like make it so that, you're not waiting for the swimming pool to make it back and forth. Like, use it efficiently do that in the background syncing right, so. And then it just turned out no one had gotten the technical part, right. But then there's also like a user there's like a design piece of like how do you design the interface, how do you make this. What's a metaphor that people can understand. And then there's like an academic piece of it which like the algorithms and how do you move the files around and things like that and store them. But then there's like a lot of grungy kind of operating systems work. Where how do you make it so that you work, the fat 32 file system. Every other file system when it stores in the next to the name of the file it stores like when the file was modified. And it's a timestamp and its resolution of one second. There's actually more detailed now but just listen. And then he likes just randomly some random operating system some some random hard drive you can have a fat 32,000 that's stores that modification time with a resolution to two seconds. And it's like, none of the other ones do that but that one does. And suddenly, there's all this weird complexity to the code or like Windows XP Service Pack three, there be bugs were like the Swedish version of that not the Norwegian version, the Swedish version of this way and we're just like cause Dropbox to crash. And so part it says two things. One is a fundamentally different approach from what some of the other guys are doing and then two is the a lot of just like that kind of obsession like the same thing, the same way I was like obsessed with like making a very well crafted like SAT question about quadrilateral and making the diagram look like the actual list is like that then obsessing over making really fast, reliable and fixing that obscure bug with Swedish windows. - And when did you realize this, you start on this you see a problem, you start tackling and it is an audacious problem to tackle. What did you say, this is real this is like I have a solution here. Like this is already better than what's out there industry. - So first was when I just made something that worked for myself. And I'm like, I could actually use it like I would put save something and it would like show up on my other computer and I'd be like, finally. And then but it really started to take shape once I made a video a demo video of Dropbox like a three minute little it's it's still online somewhere or you can find it. And I put it on Hacker News. There's this new site for startups and it just got a ton of it was like top of Hacker News for like two days. Like, these are the old days so it was easier to do that. But that gave me like, a ton of... I mean, I'd already decided to quit my job it's complicated. So I just graduated, I was working as an engineer at a startup and I was moonlighting on my SAT prep thing that was the other thing. So like you're asking why, like why did I kind of get frustrated. It's like we my Co-founder wasn't gonna quit his job I wasn't really either. The thing was never really going to succeed but also wasn't gonna die. So like it just got kind of frustrating But anyway, so Dropbox really the first real turning point was when I put the video up and then Arash my Co-founder saw it on Hacker News, like a week later, we got introduced through mutual friend. So I got a Co-founder from it, Paul Graham Arash my Co-founder and then our first investor Paul Graham saw the video and emailed me saying 'cause we just I just applied solo to Y Combinator with the idea. - And that's one for this was your second interaction with Paul Graham. - I had a complicated series of interactions before. So Y Combinator is kind of like a planet college, right? Lots of people want to get in not enough spots, you have this very competitive dynamic. And so actually, the sort of admission system was how I thought about getting into Y Combinator. And so I had actually been flown out to California to hang out with some other Y Combinator founders. And I also want to pitch Paul on Dropbox. And so I showed up at Y Combinator a little early before one of the dinners and walked into his office and asked if I could show him Dropbox and he was very angry about that, visitors are not welcome. But the problem with that is like imagine, we all remember playing the school. Imagine having like five minutes with like the dean of admissions and the one thing that they learn is that like, you're an asshole. (all laughs) All right. I know I'm so-- - No that's cool yeah, we keep it real. - Sorry to all the 12 year olds watching this - don't say that. - Yes. - But that first video was like huge in terms of getting started. - Yeah and then you get started and I mean, and what year was this was 2007? - 2007. - 2007. - And then it's just been kind of... I mean, I actually I don't think I've ever seen it. I mean you guys have got to be one of the fastest growing organizations maybe in the history of the Valley. - Also, it's been growing quickly. I don't either they're all like people are setting all kinds of records these days but but the company in terms of headcount has grown really fast. And then the user base has grown from 2009 we're like a million users now we're over 300. - And I mean, what are your, kind of in in hindsight are now that you can look over the last seven years. I mean, what it been and I almost view this we were talk a little bit about this one before we did this is what would you have told yourself when you if it was an 80% organization or 90% organization that to kind of like either ease your stress or let you know that something's coming or ways to manage it as you grow? - Well, I think there's a lot and it's hard to kind of boil it down to, like pithy, like phrases of like oh, this is how you build a company. It's like how do you play basketball? Like I wanted to take a while to explain, right? So, but I think the... I don't really know how to play I'm not very good at basketball. - I am, but I'm not I'm kidding. - Alright. So what I would say is, some of the earliest most helpful advice that we got was really to focus on the people we brought into the company like make sure everybody's like really, really talented. Like, that's probably the best like hack you can do to make everything else easier, right? 'Cause, put a good person between you and all your problems right. And our angel investors and some early folks were like, there's kept drilling that into our heads like make sure the talent bar is really high be very choosy. And I think just sort of an attitude of really trying to systematically train to like, understand like, okay, well, here's what I'm dealing with today but I'm gonna talk to people who are maybe six months ahead, a year ahead, five years ahead. And like what are they dealing with? I asked as quick as I was talking to their CEO eight thousand person company. I'm like, all right, we're approaching 1000 people at Dropbox. What am I going to see between 1000, 2001? What should I watch out for? Like what would you put in place now, so that as you've done all these things and grown the company. What do you wish you could do today? So a lot of what I do is sort of think about that and sort of all you have to be able to see around corners and one way to do that is reading. One way to do that is having mentors and getting advice. And then the other the thing that gives you some calm is that what you read on TechCrunch or in the press generally. When someone tells a story of a company, they're like, oh, yeah Dropbox it started out with not a lot of users then later they had a lot of users and they did great. (audience laughs) And they just have this sort of this like this narrative arc that they just, they're like well the real truth is this complicated stuff happened? And this was actually really hard. They're like yeah, no, okay. Two kids, two MIT kids in a dorm room have an idea they've been... And so, the truth is like it's actually very complicated and hard but that all kind of gets glossed over but when when you read like profiles there's a lot of books that have been written about their lately that the everything store is a book about Amazon it's a great book. Steve Jobs biography, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, all these Intel like Oracle. Like I've read as much as many kind of profiles on tech companies and other companies as I could get my hands on over these companies have last a few decades. And what you learn is that there's enough that once you sort of look behind the curtain there's nothing that's that magical. And that's important for people to understand because you may think like oh, I don't know anything about business. So I should just go like not, I'm never gonna be good at it because I've never been good at it. And that's just something as I should go get like a business guy or person like to do that stuff 'cause I'll never be good at it but it's actually something you can learn. And so I think that mindset of like in a week you can probably limited in terms of what you can do but like think about playing an instrument or becoming a doctor like any these things it's like all of us can realize like yeah, it's a lot of work but I can sort of see a path from A to B. Turns out like most things you want to learn have that kind of potential, whether it's public speaking or building a company or any of those things if you have the attitude that like that and you give yourself time like you can actually pick these things up there's nothing that magical about them. So and that's one thing from these profiles. And then the other thing 'cause you see in the early days they make all these like really crazy stupid mistakes and like do all these things that are like really, really wrong. And then that's also therapeutic is like you realize all these companies were like a total mess. And actually, I see Albert in the corner Albert is early Dropboxer. Albert can tell you how what a mess really Dropbox was. And so what you read about is actually not reflective of reality. It's a much mess here and kind of less glamorous process. - Yeah and I'm about to open it go into some questions that from the team but just my last question is where do you see kind of Dropbox in five, 10, 50 years, the end of your life what do you hope Dropbox has done? - 50 years. I don't know if anybody's made it's like self driving boats yet. - That would be an innovation. - I mean, you can't really look that far out, but we've realized and what we we talk a lot about is we have this opportunity where now we have a lot of resources, a lot of really talented people, we can solve these really big problems. And then what we're really working on is building this home for everybody is most important stuff, right? 'Cause you think about your house 20 years ago like you'd walk into your house it'd be like, you know mail on the table you'd go in your living room, all your photos are on your kitchen, your photos are on your refrigerator, right? And you go down the hall and your briefcase has like your documents and like all that stuff is now on servers or in your Dropbox. And so we need this like new kind of home. So we we think all the time about like how can we save hundreds of millions of people from like these things are really painful and annoying about technology. Like all these little paper cuts like forgetting your thumb like the equivalent of like these little thumb drive problems are like everywhere, right? And so how do we find the biggest ones and solve them at massive scale. And so and then, specifically we started out with this app that you put on your computer or your phone that gives you this like Dropbox folder. But really what you want is what you're using that folder for is often you're putting photos in there. You're getting work done, you're collaborating with other people. And so we were, we're starting to dig into some of those use cases, a little more things. Like we just launched a photo app called Carousel, which is like if the gallery on your phone had like every picture you've ever taken. And if you could text like 100 or 1000 photos and videos at a time. That's what Carousel lets you do, for some reason that had not really existed or no one like everybody has this problem just no one solved it. - Yeah awesome. So I'll go into some of these questions. The first one this is this is from Marcia, you can raise your hand Marcia if you're here. Where is Marcia? I don't know, where is Marcia? - [Woman] She training remotely. - Oh, she's remotely. So what's your typical workday like? - Probably the biggest thing I spend time on is recruiting. And so there's, often there'll be some kind of fire drill at night where it's like, okay we're acquiring a company or there's some candidate and we're fighting with Google or some startup to try to get them, there's a tug of war. And like I'm often finding myself down here like gone big game hunting for people to join Dropbox. So I'll be like in the Google campus or if you see me in one of this companies you know what I'm doing. (audience laughs) And so recruiting is the biggest thing. And then the probably the next biggest thing is just meetings some small numbers with people on my team around certain projects. So every six months, we pick like a dozen things that are really important that we wanna get done and then I'll be spending time with them like, okay, here's this, here's a new stuff we're gonna do in collaboration answering questions like that, what is Dropbox? Like what should it be in five years? What will it be in 50 years? And what kind of place do we want to create and then there's this is much longer tail of all kinds of other stuff or there is like partners or customers or just other things. - Yeah. - It's a hard question to answer succinctly. - Yeah, that's pretty good. I'm just show up at the-- - I had I made something that downloads my Google Calendar and I wrote Python script that downloads my Google Calendar into Excel spreadsheet and like triage is my time. - [Khan] Automatically? - Well it's not you have to supervise, you have to triage stuff or you have someone help you triage other stuff. but then I had these like rolling charts of like how I spent the last week or the last four weeks or the last 12 weeks. 'Cause a lot of people say-- - That's a product I'll use that. - All right. - That's interesting you get data analytics on your time. That's good. - It is, it's super important. So I did that more. Like one of the most important things you need to think about like as your job gets more complicated there's just more stuff competing for your time. It's really important understand where it goes that's a book called The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker, it's like any book on management will like focus on that. So, but there's another thing is like no one's created a tool where you can see where your time goes. It's like everybody, a lot of people have that problem. So I have been at times very like rigorous about that. - Very cool. And so I have a question from Dylan. And Dylan is right over there. So what are some of the most interesting, unexpected, fun, technical challenges that you and your team have faced in the process of scaling Dropbox to hundreds of millions of users? - So I think it's just fundamentally the challenge of Dropbox itself. I mean, we're trying to build like the file system for the internet. And so how do you connect a billion devices, right. And so that comes along with all kinds of technical challenges where people are saving a billion files every day on Dropbox. And so, that's more than there are Tweets on Twitter. And this is not like Little hundred, 40 characters it's like you're like wedding photos. - Pictures yeah. - You connect nothing, you can't have a bad day, right? So even just the core service but then as you branch out then there's all these interesting things with, how do we make a... There's sort of far afield things like computer version like how do we infer photos or something you may how do we organize your photos for you. Search. Pretty much every kind of lay like client software, we have big data, we have data science, we have a bunch of infrastructure stuff. Every permutation, every possible platform. If people are like really into like hardcore algorithms we need like that. If we have people really deep into systems we like unlimited need for that much storage stuff. I mean, it's really all over the map like it feels like any permutation of technical challenge. We have it at least in Software. - Yeah, absolutely. And I think we have time for one more. So this from Joel. Where is Joel? There is Joel right there. So he'd like to hear about Hack Week. And this is where we've had a little bit of we want to do more of this. How did it get started and has any what new stuff has come out of it? Has anything actually been privatized? - And so Hack Week is basically something we do every year where you guys have probably heard of a hackathon or do like a one day hacking event but we're like all right, let's take this to 11 we'll do a whole week. And because sometimes Dropbox would have been hard to prove that in a day but actually the first prototype had something reasonably working in a week. And so it's something we do, really, to sort of get back to the spirit of like where we started where there are no constraints. A lot of people were telling us that what we were doing was... A lot of investors told me that Dropbox it's a stupid thing to get into have a yet another storage company or all the other ones that failed. But like it just doesn't matter like instead of like talking or debating like actually write code and just if you do it right, like you can change how people think. And so a ton of things have made it into the products from having to account having a personal and business account and Dropbox that was a huge project that started out as a Hack Week project. One of my Hack Week projects was the new and the way you do notifications are like those sort of the menu bar and Dropbox is not like the native and then you can see like what's changed and have a different UI around that. Things like a bunch of security stuff. So two factor authentication was something that started there a lot of how you can like rewind your files or undo things that was at Hack Week project. And then a lot of other stuff which maybe didn't make it one to one later like make it pound for pound into the product. But even just like when we watch people build like all these apps on top of Dropbox like that informed like someone made like a Jukebox kind of music player as a separate app and it just sort of like plants a seed that may manifest itself years later in something like oh, well now instead of just having the Dropbox app, you have all family of apps. Like Carousel , Mailbox, Dropbox. So that it's really just a time for A just to work on anything except what you're supposed to be working on. B like kind of unleash people and remember kind of like lift the constraints of day to day. And three it's to change how people think about if you have an idea like prove it and you learn as people have like a lot of really this is pretty amazing group of people we have in the company. Where the interns like take Dropbox and put it put it in a weather balloon and put an Android phone into space where that this phone will be taking pictures of the ride up and down. And so they're just crazy. It was just have this like pictures, uploading the Dropbox of like space. - Well, I just want to thank you. I think I speak for everyone here that it's been a real treat to kind of get to know you just now. So thank you very much. - Okay thanks awesome. Thank you. (audience clapping)