When faced with selling his company to Apple, Dropbox CEO Drew Houston told Steve Jobs to take a hike. In this video interview with Forbes, Houston recalls saying 'no' to Jobs:
It's easy to be tempted by dreams of fame and fortune as an entrepreneur. It's also easy to be swayed when a big company like Apple knocks on your door. By selling out too soon, however, entrepreneurs might not learn what it takes to make a company or product truly great.
Like so many entrepreneurs, Drew started out coding alone in a room, eating Hot Pockets, and dreaming of "billionaires and babes." Ashton Kutcher recently addressed this syndrome at a YCombinator's Startup School gathering, saying that entrepreneurship isn't about fame or money ' it's about solving people's problems.
True entrepreneurship is staying the course to solve problems even when there's no reward at the end. For instance, Carl Fisher, one of America's greatest entrepreneurs, solved problems all his life, starting one business venture after another, but ended up dying broke and a relative unknown. Fisher didn't care about fame or fortune. All he wanted to do was solve people's problems.
In Drew's case, his gamble has paid off. According to Forbes, Dropbox has continued to grow even as it faces competition from Apple's iCloud. The number of users has grown threefold from a year a go and the company, valued at $4 billion, is on track to hit $240 million a year despite 96% of customers don't pay a dime. Not bad for saying no to Apple's revered co-founder.
While Drew once dreamed of billionaires and babes, it seems he's found a much greater payoff ' the people who use his product. Houston basks in the tons of emails from people telling him that Dropbox's digital storage service helped recovered a stolen laptop or save their wedding photos when their laptops died.
What would you have done if you were in Houston's shoes? Would you have sold your company off before it had a chance to grow? Or would you have told Jobs to "forget about it?"