Dropbox’s first quarterly profit is a sign of the ever-changing economy

Dropbox Inc. CEO Drew Houston saw his enterprise-software company report its first quarter GAAP profit on Thursday, more than two years after it went public.


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Dropbox Inc.’s first quarterly profit since its debut as a publicly traded company in 2018 came a bit sooner than it expected. But in a rapidly evolving work environment that puts a premium on collaboration from far-flung locations, the company might come to expect profits as routine.

“There is enormous opportunity,” Dropbox
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Chief Executive Drew Houston told MarketWatch in a phone interview after the company announced better-than-expected quarterly results Thursday, its first profitable GAAP quarter, and offered revenue guidance that topped Wall Street estimates. “We’ve been laying the tracks for this [profitability] for a while. We got there ahead of schedule, and we’re in the early innings of seeing the financial impact” from COVID-19.

For now, the proof is in the profits. The San Francisco-based company, a pioneer in file-hosting services, reported first-quarter net income of $39.3 million, or 9 cents a share, compared with a loss of $7.7 million, or 2 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter. Revenue climbed 18% to $455 million from $385.6 million a year ago. Analysts surveyed by FactSet had expected net income of 14 cents a share on sales of $446 million.

Dropbox estimates between $463 million and $466 million in second-quarter sales, and $1.88 billion to $1.9 billion in 2020. Analysts polled by FactSet have forecast $448 million in the second quarter and $1.86 billion this year.

The results highlight that in the age of COVID-19, work collaboration is king as more Americans work from home and share content with colleagues in far-flung locations. Since mid-March, the number of weekly active users of Dropbox’s redesigned desktop app is up about 60%, Houston said.

Paying users reached 14.6 million, compared with 13.2 million in the same period a year ago. Average revenue per paying user was $126.30, up from $121.04 for the year-ago period.

What is more, Dropbox’s HelloSign electronic-signature technology, which it acquired for $230 million last year, flourished in March, with three times the number of signature requests from in January and February.

Dropbox shares climbed nearly 5% in after-hours trading Thursday before cooling later. The company’s stock is up 22% this year, while the broader S&P 500 index
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is down 11% in 2020.

Dropbox is benefiting like other technology companies whose products enhance work from remote locations. The short list includes Zoom Video Communications Inc.
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, Slack Technologies Inc.
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, Microsoft Corp.’s
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Teams and Alphabet Inc.’s
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Google Meet.

And as major employers like Facebook Inc.
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allow staff to work from home through the rest of the year, Houston expects the nature of work to inexorably shift. “Fragmentation and distribution of work is changing,” he said. Working from home, he added, was a “smooth transition for us” and could lead to more businesses looking differently at how and where their employees work.

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