Founded in 2007, Dropbox now is one of the hottest companies in Silicon Valley. But the company’s allure isn’t anything new. According to a recent story in Forbes, Dropbox got (and turned down) a nine-figure buyout offer from Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) just a couple of years after its launch — a huge deal considering Apple traditionally avoids major acquisitions. Apple has some of the world’s best engineers, but Steve Jobs realized that Dropbox had something compelling.
Dropbox allows for storage across a multitude of devices. The company now has roughly 45 million members who store 1 billion files every three days. And according to Forbes, it looks like the company will generate $240 million in revenues for 2011.
While Dropbox is super-easy for consumers to use, the technology is extremely complex — it must deal with 18 operating systems and three mobile systems.
What’s amazing is that Dropbox created its business with only $7.2 million in funding. But the business model — a “freemium” approach, where users get 2 gigabytes free but must pay a monthly fee for any additional storage — has been quite profitable.
To keep up the momentum, Dropbox recently raised $250 million. The investors include the typical tier-1 VCs like Benchmark, Greylock Partners, Sequoia Capital and Accel Partners. But Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) also participated — no doubt, the firm sees a juicy opportunity to snag a future IPO assignment.
But in a way, the private funding is almost a quasi-public offering. Keep in mind that Dropbox’s valuation is a whopping $4 billion, compared to LinkedIn’s (NYSE:LNKD) $8.4 billion market cap. In other words, the expectations for Dropbox are robust.
The company will need to fend off tough rivals. Of course, Apple has its iCloud offering. And companies like Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Box.net (which has raised $162 million) and YouSend also offer alternative storage systems.
But so far, Dropbox does have the lead in the market — and there still are no signs that the momentum is slowing down. And the founders definitely are committed to building an enduring company. After all, how many 20-somethings turn down hundreds of millions of dollars from the iconic Steve Jobs?
Tom Taulli runs the InvestorPlace blog IPO Playbook, a site dedicated to the hottest news and rumors about initial public offerings. He is also the author of “All About Short Selling” and“All About Commodities.” Follow him on Twitter at @ttaulli. As of this writing, he did not own a positioning any of the stocks named here.