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Is Dropbox's Condoleezza Problem Gone?

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It was supposed to be a feel-good week for Dropbox. CEO Drew Houston unveiled a handsome stack of new, well-received products. Then he invited Condoleezza Rice to serve on his board.

We’ll get to that problem in a second, first a recap of the other Dropbox announcements.

It was with great delight last Wednesday that Houston introduced Carousel, a place in the Cloud where you could store the pictures and videos of your life and access them from any device. The user experience is not only delightful, but it also has some interesting filters and features which, in comparison, make Instagram less cool.

Back to Business

We covered Dropbox for Business, which includes some Enterprise must-haves like remote wipe, security and important admin tools. There was also a prize inside Dropbox for Business, free added storage on your personal account, provided that you sign up by September. The question now, is will business users bite?

One Dropbox announcement that seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle is Project Harmony which Enterprise users should love, once it becomes available. It allows you to see when documents are being edited and it's supposed to include a provision that allows you to chat as you collaborate.

It's what EMC could provide if VMWare boss Pat Gelsinger would finally let go of SocialCast and let Rick Devenuti and his team at Documentum/IIG have it (wherever they happen to end up).

And finally, Houston invited Condoleezza Rice to sit on his board, the idea being that she could help the quickly growing start-up in government relations during its global expansion.

Houston, We Have a Problem

This caused uproar among some of Dropbox's passionate users, who went so far as to quickly crank out a website, Drop-Dropbox.com, that was made popular on Twitter through #dropdropbox.  

Shortly thereafter, lists of alternatives to Dropbox began to appear.

It's worth noting that the DropDropbox site says the group doesn't see this as a partisan issue. Instead, the site calls Rice a “war criminal,” claiming she helped to start the Iraqi war and more….

Choosing Condoleezza Rice for Dropbox's Board is problematic on a number of deeper levels, and invites serious concerns about Drew Houston and the senior leadership at Dropbox's commitment to freedom, openness, and ethics. When a company quite literally has access to all of your data, ethics become more than a fun thought experiment.”

Answering Critics

This criticism did not fall on deaf ears; Houston quickly posted an explanation on the company blog. It has received more than 1000 comments thus far.

While most industry commentators insist that this will blow over as soon the members of the DropDropbox movement find something else to complain about, that has yet to be seen.

The mainstream consensus thus, far seems to be this:

It's worth noting, however, that Brendan Eich, co-founder of Mozilla, was pressured into resigning from its board because of politics.

We're going to keep following the Dropbox story, in the meantime, there's an interesting discussion on it at YCombinator.

@Levie Takes a Breather

Late last month we wrote about OpenText's $268 million patent infringement case against Box. Now we've learned that the preliminary injunction concerning Box's Box Edit feature has been denied. Maybe Aaron Levie can breathe a small sigh of relief as he waits for resolution on the remaining 11 infringements.

Silicon Valley's file sync & share geniuses have come of age under the spotlight, so all of this drama may be old hat to them. But it's worth noting that the obstacles Houston and Levie encounter are newsworthy and how they get resolved will impact the future. They raise important questions about the merits of software patent infringement cases and how heavily CEOs should weigh the baggage that their appointees and hires bring with them when they come aboard.

Image: Shutterstock

 
 
 
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