SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
☒ ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020
☐ TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from________to________
Commission File Number 001-38434
|(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)|
|(State or other jurisdiction of|
incorporation or organization)
1800 Owens Street
San Francisco, California 94158
(Address of principal executive offices, including zip code)
(Registrant's telephone number, including area code)
|Title of each class||Trading Symbol(s)||Name of exchange on which registered|
|Class A Common Stock, par value $0.00001 per share||DBX||The NASDAQ Stock Market LLC|
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes ☒ No ☐
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the "Exchange Act"). Yes ☐ No ☒
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports) and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes ☒ No ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). Yes ☒ No ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check one):
|Large accelerated filer|| ||☒|| ||Accelerated filer|| ||☐|
|Non-accelerated filer|| ||☐|| ||Smaller reporting company|| ||☐|
| ||☐|| || |
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 7(a)(2)(B) of the Securities Act. ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report. ☒
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes ☐ No ☒
The aggregate market value of the registrant's Class A common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant, based on the closing price of a share of the registrant's Class A common stock on June 30, 2020 as reported by the NASDAQ Global Select Market on such date was approximately $6,023.6 million. Shares of the registrant’s Class A common stock held by each executive officer, director and holder of 5% or more of the outstanding Class A common stock have been excluded as such persons may be deemed to be affiliates. This calculation does not reflect a determination that certain persons are affiliates of the registrant for any other purpose.
As of February 16, 2021 there were 331,279,862 shares of the registrant's Class A common stock outstanding (which includes 10,333,333 shares of Class A common stock subject to restricted stock awards that were granted pursuant to the Co-Founder Grants, and vest upon the satisfaction of a service condition and achievement of certain stock price goals, and 2,352,246 shares of Class A common stock subject to restricted stock awards that were granted to other Dropbox executives and vest upon the satisfaction of a service condition and, as applicable, achievement of certain stock price goals), 83,437,091 shares of the registrant’s Class B common stock outstanding, and no shares of the registrant’s Class C common stock outstanding.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the registrant's definitive Proxy Statement relating to the 2021 Annual Meeting of Stockholders are incorporated herein by references in Part II and Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K to the extent stated herein. Such Proxy Statement will be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission within 120 days of the registrant's fiscal year ended December 31, 2020.
SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
This Annual Report on Form 10-K contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, which statements involve substantial risk and uncertainties. Forward-looking statements generally relate to future events or our future financial or operating performance. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements because they contain words such as “may,” “will,” “should,” “expects,” “plans,” “anticipates,” “could,” “intends,” “target,” “projects,” “contemplates,” “believes,” “estimates,” “predicts,” “potential,” or “continue” or the negative of these words or other similar terms or expressions that concern our expectations, strategy, plans, or intentions. Forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K include, but are not limited to, statements about:
•our ability to retain and upgrade paying users;
•our ability to attract new users or convert registered users to paying users;
•our future financial performance, including trends in revenue, costs of revenue, gross profit or gross margin, operating expenses, paying users, annual recurring revenue, average revenue per year and free cash flow;
•our expectations regarding the challenges and anticipated benefits to our business from our shift to a Virtual First work model as well as the resulting impact to our financial results and business operations;
•our expectations regarding the potential ongoing impacts of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and related public health measures, as well as the potential for a more permanent global shift to remote work, on our business, the business of our customers, suppliers and partners, and the economy;
•our ability to compete successfully in competitive markets;
•the demand for our platform or for content collaboration solutions in general;
•possible harm caused by significant disruption of service or loss or unauthorized access to users’ content;
•our ability to effectively integrate our platform with others;
•our ability to respond to rapid technological changes, including our ability to take advantage of potential market opportunities arising from what we believe to be a more permanent shift towards remote work;
•our ability to achieve or maintain profitability;
•our expectations and management of future growth;
•our ability to grow due to our lack of a significant outbound sales force;
•our ability to attract large organizations as users;
•our ability to offer high-quality customer support;
•our ability to manage our international expansion;
•our ability to attract, retain, integrate, and manage key and other highly qualified personnel, including in light of our workforce reduction in January 2021 and as we transition to a Virtual First model with an increasingly distributed workforce;
•our capital allocation plans, including expected allocations of cash and timing for our share repurchases and other investments;
•our ability to protect our brand;
•our ability to prevent serious errors or defects in our platform;
•our ability to maintain, protect, and enhance our intellectual property; and
•our ability to successfully identify, acquire, and integrate companies and assets.
We caution you that the foregoing list may not contain all of the forward-looking statements made in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
You should not rely upon forward-looking statements as predictions of future events. We have based the forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K primarily on our current expectations and projections about future events and trends that we believe may affect our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects. The outcome of the events described in these forward-looking statements is subject to risks, uncertainties, and other factors described in the section titled “Risk Factors” and elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Moreover, we operate in a very competitive and rapidly changing environment. New risks and uncertainties emerge from time to time, and it is not possible for us to predict all risks and uncertainties that could have an impact on the forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. We cannot assure you that the results, events, and circumstances reflected in the forward-looking statements will be achieved or occur, and actual results, events, or circumstances could differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements.
The forward-looking statements made in this Annual Report on Form 10-K relate only to events as of the date on which the statements are made. We undertake no obligation to update any forward-looking statements made in this Annual Report on Form 10-K to reflect events or circumstances after the date of this Annual Report on Form 10-K or to reflect new information or the occurrence of unanticipated events, except as required by law. We may not actually achieve the plans, intentions, or expectations disclosed in our forward-looking statements, and you should not place undue reliance on our forward-looking statements. Our forward-looking statements do not reflect the potential impact of any future acquisitions, mergers, dispositions, joint ventures, or investments we may make.
SUMMARY OF RISK FACTORS
Below is a summary of the principal factors that could materially harm our business, operating results and/or financial condition, impair our future prospects and/or cause the price of our Class A common stock to decline. This summary does not address all of the risks that we face. Additional discussion of the risks summarized in this risk factor summary, and other risks that we face, can be found below under the heading “Risk Factors” and should be carefully considered, together with other information in this Form 10-K and our other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") before making an investment decision regarding our Class A common stock.
•Our business depends on our ability to retain and upgrade paying users, and any decline in renewals or upgrades could adversely affect our future results of operations.
•Our future growth could be harmed if we fail to attract new users or convert registered users to paying users.
•Our revenue growth rate has declined in recent periods and may continue to slow in the future.
•We have a limited history of operating with a Virtual First workforce and the long-term impact on our financial results and business operations is uncertain.
•We operate in competitive markets, and we must continue to compete effectively.
•Our business could be damaged, and we could be subject to liability if there is any unauthorized access to our data or our users' content, including through privacy and data security breaches.
•Our business could be harmed by any significant disruption of service on our platform or loss of content.
•The full extent of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business is currently unknown, but it may adversely affect our financial results as well as our business operations.
•We generate revenue from sales of subscriptions to our platform, and any decline in demand for our platform or for content collaboration solutions in general could negatively impact our business.
•Our business depends upon the interoperability of our platform across devices, operating systems, and third-party applications that we do not control.
•Failure to respond to rapid technological changes, extend our platform, or develop new features or products may harm our ability to compete effectively, which would adversely affect our business.
•We may not successfully manage our growth or plan for future growth.
•We depend on our key personnel and other highly qualified personnel, and if we fail to attract, integrate, and retain our personnel, and maintain our unique corporate culture, our business could be harmed.
•We have a history of net losses, we may increase expenses in the future, and we may not be able to achieve or to maintain profitability.
•Our lack of significant outbound sales force may limit the potential growth of our business.
ITEM 1. BUSINESS
Dropbox, Inc. (the “Company” or “Dropbox”) is the one place to keep life organized and keep work moving.
We were founded in 2007 with a simple idea: Life would be a lot better if everyone could access their most important information anytime from any device. Over the past decade, we’ve largely accomplished that mission by building tools to help people work from anywhere—and along the way we recognized that for most of our users, sharing and collaborating on Dropbox was even more valuable than storing files.
Our market opportunity has grown as we’ve expanded from keeping files in sync to keeping teams in sync. Today, Dropbox is well-positioned to reimagine the way work gets done. We're focusing on reducing the inordinate amount of time and energy the world spends on “work about work”—tedious tasks like searching for content, switching between applications, and managing workflows. We believe the need for our platform will continue to grow as teams become more fluid and global, and content is increasingly fragmented across incompatible tools and devices. Dropbox breaks down silos by centralizing the flow of information between the products and services our users prefer, even if they’re not our own. In a world where using technology at work can be fragmented and distracting, Dropbox makes it easy to focus on the work that matters.
The popularity of our platform drives viral growth, which has allowed us to scale rapidly and efficiently. We’ve built a thriving global business with 15.48 million paying users.
What Sets Us Apart
Since the beginning, we’ve focused on simplifying the lives of our users. In a world where business software can be frustrating to use, challenging to integrate, and expensive to sell, we take a different approach. As businesses around the world adapt to a distributed environment, Dropbox is at the forefront of developing the technology to support them. Dropbox provides tools to help distributed teams prioritize, get organized, and keep work moving securely—from anywhere.
Simple and intuitive design
While traditional tools developed in the desktop age have struggled to keep up with evolving user demands, Dropbox was designed for the cloud era. We build simple, beautiful products that bring joy to our users and make it easier for them to do their best work.
Because people use a wide variety of devices, tools and platforms, Dropbox works across the devices, operating systems, and apps users want—from Android to iOS, Windows, Mac, desktop, and mobile. We also integrate seamlessly with other products, integrating with partners including Microsoft, Zoom, Slack, BetterCloud, Atlassian, and Google.
Viral, bottom-up adoption
Every year, millions of users sign up for Dropbox at work. Bottom-up adoption within organizations has been critical to our strategy and success as users increasingly choose their own tools at work. We generate over 90% of our revenue from self-serve channels—users who purchase a subscription through our app or website.
Performance and security
Our custom-built infrastructure allows us to maintain high standards of performance, availability, and security. Dropbox is built on proprietary, block-level sync technology to achieve industry-leading performance. We designed our platform with multiple layers of redundancy to guard against data loss and deliver high availability. We also offer numerous layers of protection, from secure file data transfer and encryption to network configuration and application-level controls.
Dropbox allows individuals, teams, and organizations to collaborate more effectively and focus on the work that matters. Anyone can sign up for free through our website or app, and upgrade to a paid subscription plan for premium features.
Key elements of our platform
•Unified home for content. We provide a unified home for the world’s content and the relevant context around it. To date, our users have added hundreds of billions of pieces of content to Dropbox, totaling over multiple exabytes of data. When users join Dropbox, they gain access to a digital workspace that supports the full content lifecycle—they can create and organize their content, access it from anywhere, share it with internal and external collaborators, and review feedback and history.
•Global sharing network. We’ve built one of the largest collaboration platforms in the world. We cater to the needs of dynamic, dispersed teams. The overwhelming majority of our customers use Dropbox to share and collaborate. As we continue to grow, more users benefit from frictionless sharing, and powerful network effects increase the utility and stickiness of our platform.
•Product experiences and integrations. The insights we glean from our community of users and our deep integrations with best-of-breed companies lead us to develop or acquire new product experiences and extend the capabilities of our platform. Products like Dropbox Passwords, Vault, Computer Backup, and HelloSign, and deep integrations with companies like Microsoft, Zoom, Atlassian, Slack, and BetterCloud help us provide our users with the functionality they need to do their best work. Machine learning further improves the user experience by enabling more intelligent search, better organization, and utility of information. This ongoing innovation broadens the value of our platform and deepens user engagement.
These elements reinforce one another to produce a powerful flywheel effect. As users create and share more content with more people, they expand our global sharing network. This network allows us to gather insights and feedback that help us create new product experiences. And with our scale, we can instantly put these innovations in the hands of millions. This, in turn, helps attract more users and content, which further propels the flywheel.
Dropbox is a single organized place where individuals and teams can create content, access it from anywhere, and share it with collaborators. The power of our platform lies in the breadth of our capabilities and the diverse ways our users make Dropbox work for them. We monetize through a range of subscription plans. Our platform capabilities are described below:
Paper. With Dropbox Paper, users can co-author content, tag others, create timelines, assign tasks with due dates, embed and comment on files, tables, checklists, code snippets, and rich media—all in real-time. We designed Paper to be simple and beautiful so users can focus on the most important ideas and tasks at hand.
Doc scanner. The doc scanner in our mobile app lets users create content in Dropbox from hard copies. This includes transforming everything from printed materials to whiteboard brainstorming sessions into digital documents that users can edit and share. We apply proprietary machine learning techniques to automatically detect the document being scanned, extract it from the background, fit it to a rectangular shape, remove shadows, adjust the contrast, and save it as a PDF or image file. For Dropbox Business teams, scanned content is analyzed using Optical Character Recognition so text within these scans is searchable in Dropbox.
Access and organize
Search. Dropbox has powerful search capabilities that allow users to quickly find the files and folders they need. Our autocomplete technology surfaces and prioritizes content based on users’ previous activity. For Dropbox Plus, Professional, and Business users, full text search allows users to scan the entire content of their files.
Rich previews. Rich previews allow users to easily interact with files across any device without having to open different applications. Users can comment on, annotate, review, and present files, and see who viewed and edited them. We support previews of over 300 file types, and Dropbox users currently preview files tens of millions of times every day.
Smart Sync. With Smart Sync, users can access all of their content natively on their computers without taking up storage space on their local hard drives. We intelligently sync files to a user’s computer as they need them, and users can control which files or folders are always synced locally. With Smart Sync, files that are only stored in the cloud appear in the local file system and can be opened directly from Windows File Explorer or Mac Finder, instead of having to navigate to our web interface. Smart Sync is available to Dropbox Plus, Professional, and Business users.
Version history. As paying users work on files, our servers keep snapshots of all their changes. Users can see a file’s complete version history so they can reference and retrieve older versions if needed. Version histories are kept between 30 to 180 days for paying users, depending on subscription plan.
Third-party ecosystem. Our open and thriving ecosystem fosters deeper relationships with our users and developers. Developers can build applications that connect to Dropbox through our DBX Developer Platform. For example, email apps can plug into Dropbox to send attachments or shared links, video-conferencing apps allow users to start meetings and share content natively from Dropbox, and eSignature apps give users the ability to manage and maintain contract workflows all from within Dropbox. As of December 31, 2020, Dropbox was receiving over 60 billion API calls per month and over 750,000 developers had registered and built applications on our platform. In addition, more than 85% of Dropbox Business teams have linked to one or more third-party applications.
Rewind. Dropbox Rewind is a tool that lets a user take a folder, or their entire account, back to a specific point in time. The tool uses version history to undo changes made to files and folders and can recover any file edits or deletions made within the last 30 to 180 days depending on the users’ subscription.
Computer Backup. Computer backup automatically syncs folders on a user's computer to the cloud. When turned on, files on the user's PC or Mac are continuously backed up on the cloud. Any changes made in synced folders are automatically updated in the Dropbox account and on the hard drive. Computer backup allows users to get up-to-date versions of files stored on the user's PC or Mac from anywhere and from any device instantly. Content is secure in the cloud, no matter what happens to the user's computer.
Passwords. Dropbox Passwords allows users to sign-in to websites and apps by creating and storing unique usernames and passwords across devices. The app can autofill usernames and passwords for instant access anywhere within applications available for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android.
Vault. Dropbox Vault helps secure and organize sensitive information in the cloud. Vault is a PIN-protected folder in Dropbox that a user can access any time and on any device. Sensitive data can be added and viewed from any device: Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android.
Folders. There are three types of folders in Dropbox: private, shared, and team folders. A private folder allows an individual to sync files between devices. A shared folder allows users to quickly and easily start a project space for group collaboration. A team folder, which is only available for Dropbox Business teams, is a central, administrator-managed hub where they can store and collaborate on content.
Shared links. Users can share files and folders with anyone, including non-Dropbox users, by creating a Dropbox link. Once created, the link can be sent through email, text, Facebook, Twitter, instant message, or other channels. The recipient can view the file with a rich preview or see all the files in a shared folder. Dropbox Professional subscribers and Dropbox Business teams can set passwords and expiration dates and specify whether recipients can comment on or download the files.
Transfer. Dropbox Transfer gives users a quick and secure way to send large files or collections of files to anyone. With Transfer, users can send up to 100 GB of files in just a few clicks. Users also have the option to drag and drop files to upload from their computer, or add items stored in Dropbox. After creating a transfer, users receive a link that can be pasted anywhere and sent to anyone. Recipients receive copies of the files, so the sender’s originals remain untouched.
File requests. With file requests, users can invite anyone to submit files into a specified Dropbox folder through a simple link—regardless of whether the recipient has a Dropbox account. File requests are ideal for tasks such as collecting bids from contractors or requesting submissions from coworkers and clients. All submitted files are organized into a Dropbox folder that’s private to the requesting user.
Watermarking. Our Dropbox watermarking feature allows users to protect and share digital files quickly and easily. The watermark feature can be used to protect graphic designs, confidential contracts, and personal photographs. Users can create their own custom watermark and watermark any file without leaving Dropbox.
Comments and annotations. Dropbox comments and annotations marry content with the conversations and relevant context around it. Instead of being scattered across separate silos, such as email and chat, the editing and development of content are tied to a file. Users can give feedback on specific parts of files through a rich, innovative overlay on our web and mobile platforms.
File activity stream. An activity feed lives next to every file preview on our web interface and in the desktop app, telling users what’s happening with a file. The feed shows when someone opens a file, edits a file, or shares a file.
Notifications. We use real-time notifications across all our channels—web, desktop, email, and mobile—to keep users up-to-date on what’s happening with their work. Users can choose to be notified when someone opens, edits, shares, or comments on a file, or adds a file to their shared folders.
Viewer information and presence. On both file previews and Paper docs, Dropbox shows users in real-time who’s viewing a doc and when a doc was last viewed by other users. On desktop, the Dropbox badge is a subtle overlay to Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint that lets users know if someone opens or edits the file they’re working in. The Dropbox badge gives users real-time insight into how others are interacting with their content, bringing modern collaboration features often found only in web-based documents to desktop files.
HelloSign. HelloSign is an eSignature and document workflow platform that enables customers to easily sign, send, and receive documents through its intuitive web and mobile based interfaces. Once documents are signed, copies automatically sync to the user's Dropbox account.
Security protections. We employ strong protections for all of the data on our platform.
•Encryption. Dropbox file data at rest is encrypted using 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard, or AES. To protect data in transit between Dropbox apps such as desktop, mobile, API, or web and our servers, Dropbox uses Secure Sockets Layer, or SSL, and Transport Layer Security, or TLS, for data transfer, creating a secure tunnel protected by 128-bit or higher AES encryption.
•File recovery. Every deletion event in Dropbox is recorded, including when groups of files are deleted. Users can easily recover files through our web interface. Dropbox Plus subscribers may recover prior versions for up to 30 days after deletion, and Dropbox Professional and Dropbox Business subscribers may recover prior versions for up to 180 days after deletion.
Administrator controls. Dropbox Business team administrators have many ways to customize security settings in both global and granular ways, including real-time detections of suspicious behavior, risky activity, and potential data leaks.
•Sharing permissions: Team administrators can set up and monitor how their members share team folders, and can set sharing permissions on all folders, sub-folders, and links through the sharing tab.
•Remote device wipe: Team administrators can delete their organization’s Dropbox content from a member’s linked devices, which is especially useful should someone lose a device or leave the team.
•Audit log: Team administrators can monitor which members are sharing files and logging into Dropbox, among other events. They can review activity logs, create full reports for specific time ranges, and pull activity reports on specific members. Advanced and Enterprise team administrators have access to audit logs with file-event tracking.
•Device approvals: Advanced and Enterprise team administrators can manage how members access Dropbox on their devices.
•Tiered administrator roles: Advanced and Enterprise teams have the ability to set multiple administrator roles, each with a different set of permissions.
•Network control: Enterprise team administrators can restrict personal Dropbox usage on their organization’s network.
Third-party security integrations. We’ve partnered with industry-leading third parties to enable us to provide a wide range of IT processes and satisfy industry compliance standards, including:
•Security information and event management: Allows Dropbox Business administrators to oversee and manage employee activity, and access sensitive data through the administrator page.
•Data loss prevention: Protects sensitive data like personally identifiable information and payment card industry data stored in Dropbox Business accounts.
•eDiscovery and legal hold: Enables secure search and the ability to collect and preserve electronically stored information in Dropbox Business accounts.
•Digital rights management: Provides third-party encryption for company data stored in Dropbox Business accounts.
•Data migration and on-premises backup: Assists in transferring large amounts of data between locations and securing sensitive information with on-site data backup.
•Identity management: Allows companies to keep their Dropbox Business team authenticated with an external identity provider like Active Directory.
Our Subscription Plans
We offer subscription plans to serve the varying needs of our diverse customer base, which includes individuals, families, teams, and organizations of all sizes. Our monthly subscription pricing for Individuals and Business are as follows:
We’ve built a thriving global business with 15.48 million paying users. As of December 31, 2020, we had more than 500,000 paying Dropbox Business teams. Our customer base is highly diversified, and in 2018, 2019, and 2020, no customer accounted for more than 1% of our revenue. Our customers include individuals, families, teams, and organizations of all sizes, from freelancers and small businesses to Fortune 100 companies. They work across a wide range of industries, including professional services, technology, media, education, industrials, consumer and retail, and financial services. Within companies, our platform is used by all types of teams and functions, including sales, marketing, product, design, engineering, finance, legal, and human resources.
How we support our customers
All of our users can access support through the following resources:
•Help center: Provides an online repository of helpful information about our platform, responses to frequently asked questions, and best practices for use.
•Community support: Facilitates collaboration between users on answers, solutions, and ideas about our platform in an online community.
•Social media support: Provides users real-time product and service updates, and offers tips and troubleshooting information.
•Guided troubleshooting: Offers step-by-step instructions to resolve common questions and provides a portal to submit help requests for questions that aren’t otherwise available.
We also offer additional support for our paying users as described above in Our Subscription Plans.
Our Sales and Marketing Approach
As users share content and collaborate on our platform, they introduce and invite new users, driving viral growth. We generate over 90% of our revenue from self-serve channels, which limits customer acquisition costs.
We’ve developed an efficient marketing function that’s focused on building brand awareness and reinforcing our self-serve model.
Our goal is to rapidly demonstrate the value of our platform to our users in order to convert them to paying users and upgrade them to our premium offerings. We reach them through in-product prompts and notifications, time-limited trials of paid subscription plans, email, and lifecycle marketing. In 2020, hundreds of millions of devices—including computers, phones, and tablets—were actively connected to the Dropbox platform, representing a large number of touchpoints to communicate with our users. We complement our self-serve strategy with a focused outbound sales effort targeted at organizations with existing organic adoption of Dropbox.
Once prospects are identified, our sales team works to broaden adoption of our platform into wider-scale deployments. We also acquire some users through paid marketing and distribution partnerships in which hardware manufacturers pre-install our software on their devices.
Our Technology Infrastructure and Operations
Our users trust us with their most important content, and we focus on providing them with a secure and easy-to-use platform. More than 90% of our users’ data is stored on our own custom-built infrastructure, which has been designed from the ground up to be reliable and secure, and to provide annual data durability of at least 99.999999999%. We have datacenter co-location facilities in California, Oregon, Texas, and Virginia.
We also utilize Amazon Web Services, or AWS, for the remainder of our users’ storage needs and to help deliver our services. These AWS datacenters are located in the United States, Australia, Europe, and Japan, which allows us to localize where content is stored. Our technology infrastructure, combined with select use of AWS resources, provides us with a distributed and scalable architecture on a global scale.
We designed our platform with multiple layers of redundancy to guard against data loss and deliver high availability. Incremental backups are performed hourly and full backups are performed daily. In addition, as a default, redundant copies of content are stored independently in at least two separate geographic regions and replicated reliably within each region.
Our Commitment to Security and Privacy
Trust is the foundation of our relationship with our users, and we take significant measures every day to protect their privacy and security.
Our sophisticated infrastructure is designed to protect our users’ content while it is transferred, stored, and processed. We offer multiple layers of protection, including secure file data transfer, encryption, network configuration, and application-level controls. For Dropbox Business teams, our tools also empower administrators with control and visibility features that allow them to customize our platform to their organizations’ needs. Our information security policies and management framework are designed to build a culture of security, and we continually assess risks and improve the security, confidentiality, integrity, and availability of our systems. We voluntarily engage third-party security auditors to test our systems and controls at least annually against the most widely recognized security standards and regulations. We also encourage and support independent research
through our bug bounty program, where we work with leading security researchers from around the world to maintain the high standards of security our users have come to expect.
Dropbox supports HIPAA and HITECH compliance. We sign business associate agreements with our customers who require them in order to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, or HITECH. We also offer a HIPAA assessment report performed by an independent third party.
The market for content collaboration platforms is competitive and rapidly changing. Certain features of our platform compete in the cloud storage market with products offered by Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Slack, and Google and in the content collaboration market with products offered by Microsoft, Atlassian, and Google. We compete with Box on a more limited basis in the cloud storage market for deployments by large enterprises. We also compete with smaller private companies that offer point solutions in the cloud storage market or the content collaboration market.
We believe that the principal competitive factors in our markets include the following:
•ease of adoption and use;
•scale of user network;
•features and platform experience;
•security and privacy;
•accessibility across several devices, operating systems, and applications;
•continued innovation; and
We believe we compete favorably across these factors and are largely unhindered by legacy constraints. However, some of our competitors may have greater name recognition, longer operating histories, more varied services, the ability to bundle a broader range of products and services, larger marketing budgets, established marketing relationships, access to larger user bases, major distribution agreements with hardware manufacturers and resellers, and greater financial, technical, and other resources.
We believe that our intellectual property rights are valuable and important to our business. We rely on patents, patent applications, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, know-how license agreements, confidentiality procedures, non-disclosure agreements, employee disclosure and invention assignment agreements, and other contractual rights to establish and protect our proprietary rights. In addition, from time to time we’ve purchased patents, inbound licenses, trademarks, domain names, and patent applications from third parties.
We have over 1,200 issued patents and more than 450 pending patent applications in the United States and abroad. These patents and patent applications seek to protect our proprietary inventions relevant to our business. In addition, we have a large number of inbound licenses to key patents in the file collaboration, storage, syncing, and sharing markets.
We have trademark rights in our name, our logo, and other brand indicia, and have trademark registrations for select marks in the United States and many other jurisdictions around the world. We also have registered domain names for websites that we use in our business, such as www.dropbox.com, and similar variations.
We intend to pursue additional intellectual property protection to the extent we believe it would be beneficial and cost effective. Despite our efforts to protect our intellectual property rights, they may not be respected in the future or may be invalidated, circumvented, or challenged. In addition, the laws of various foreign countries where our products are distributed may not protect our intellectual property rights to the same extent as laws in the United States.
At Dropbox, we believe that the world can work better. But that starts with us: building a team that emphasizes the kindness and collaboration needed to grow. We believe the strength of our workforce is one of the most significant contributors to our success. As of December 31, 2020, we had 2,760 full-time employees. Of our full-time employees, 2,346 were located in the United States and 414 were employees located outside of the United States. None of our employees are represented by a labor union. We have not experienced any work stoppages, and we believe that our employee relations are strong. In October 2020, we announced our new Virtual First work model pursuant to which remote work will become the primary experience for all of our employees. As a result, we intend for our workforce to become more distributed over time.
On January 13, 2021, we announced a reduction in our global workforce of approximately 11% in order to streamline our operations and reallocate our investments to support our strategic priorities. We provided employees impacted by this reduction in force with severance packages and job placement support.
Compensation and Benefits Program
Our compensation program is designed to attract and reward talented individuals who possess the skills necessary to support our business, contribute to our strategic goals and create long-term value for our stockholders. We provide employees with competitive compensation packages that include base salary, annual incentive bonuses, 401(k) with a company match, and equity awards tied to the value of our stock price. Our comprehensive benefits package also includes medical, dental, vision, and life and disability plans.
Employee Wellness and Development
We recognize the importance of the well-being of our employees. As we shift to our Virtual First work model, we remain committed to supporting their well-being and development as our workforce becomes more distributed over time and remote work becomes the primary experience for our employees. As a result, we provide our employees with a flexible quarterly allowance that can be used to cover expenses related to health and fitness, family and caregiver support, productivity and ergonomics, financial wellness, and learning and development programs, as well as resources to help implement remote work best practices. We also develop and provide access to internal learning and development resources to assist in professional development. We aim to preserve focus and work-life balance, particularly with a distributed workforce, by supporting flexible working arrangements and efficient remote collaboration practices.
In addition, the safety of our employees is paramount to our success. We have a physical security policy applicable to all our employees, a global physical security team that is empowered to protect the safety of our employees in the event of emergencies or disasters. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we shifted to a remote work model for substantially all our employees, provided allowances to cover certain remote work expenses, provided access to dependent care resources and subsidized dependent care expenses. We also established Global COVID-19 Workplace Health & Safety Standards, based on guidance from public health authorities, for situations where it was necessary for employees to enter our offices.
Diversity and Inclusion
We believe that an equitable and inclusive environment comprised of diverse teams produces more creative solutions, results in better and more innovative products, and is crucial to our efforts to attract and retain key talent. We are focused on building an inclusive culture and sustaining a diverse workforce through a variety of company initiatives. As part of that effort we have a number of executive-sponsored Employee Resource Groups, or ERGs, that provide support for diverse members of
our workforce by fostering an inclusive environment and providing professional development and community-building opportunities. In addition, we provide resources and training to employees at all levels to ensure that we are hiring, promoting and retaining diverse teams, as well as sponsor a number of professional development programs to support the advance of underrepresented employees at Dropbox.
We were incorporated in May 2007 as Evenflow, Inc., a Delaware corporation, and changed our name to Dropbox, Inc. in October 2009. Our principal offices are located at 1800 Owens Street, San Francisco, California, 94158, and our telephone number is (415) 857-6800. Our Class A common stock is listed on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol “DBX.”
Our website is located at http://www.dropbox.com/, our investor relations website is located at http://investors.dropbox.com/, and our blog is located at https://blog.dropbox.com/topics/news. We have used, and intend to continue to use, our investor relations website, our blog, press releases, public conference calls and webcasts to disclose material non-public information and to comply with our disclosure obligations under Regulation FD. The following filings are available through our investor relations website after we file them with the SEC: Annual Report on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, and our Proxy Statement for our annual meeting of stockholders. These filings are also available for download free of charge on our investor relations website. The SEC also maintains an Internet website that contains reports, proxy statements and other information about issuers, like us, that file electronically with the SEC. The address of that website is www.sec.gov. The contents of these websites are not incorporated into this filing. Further, the Company’s references to the URLs for these websites are intended to be inactive textual references only.
ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS
Investing in our Class A common stock involves a high degree of risk. In addition to the other information set forth in this Annual Report, you should carefully consider the risks and uncertainties described below, together with all of the other information in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, including the section titled “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and our consolidated financial statements and related notes, before making a decision to invest in our Class A common stock. Our business, results of operations, financial condition, or prospects could also be harmed by risks and uncertainties that are not presently known to us or that we currently believe are not material. If any of the risks actually occur, our business, results of operations, financial condition, and prospects could be materially and adversely affected. In that event, the market price of our Class A common stock could decline, and you could lose all or part of your investment. In addition, the impacts of COVID-19 and any worsening of the economic environment may exacerbate the risks described below, any of which could have a material impact on us. This situation is changing rapidly and additional impacts may arise that we are not currently aware of.
Risks Related to Our Business and Operations
Our business depends on our ability to retain and upgrade paying users, and any decline in renewals or upgrades could adversely affect our future results of operations.
Our business depends upon our ability to maintain and expand our relationships with our users. Our business is subscription based, and paying users are not obligated to and may not renew their subscriptions after their existing subscriptions expire. As a result, we cannot provide assurance that paying users will renew their subscriptions utilizing the same tier of our products or upgrade to premium offerings. Renewals of subscriptions to our platform may decline or fluctuate because of several factors, such as dissatisfaction with our products, support, pricing, or mix of features, a user no longer having a need for our products, the availability of competitive products that are, or are perceived to be, less expensive, shifts in the mix of monthly and annual subscriptions or the impact of catastrophic events, such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, on our paying users. In addition, some paying users downgrade or do not renew their subscriptions.
We encourage paying users to upgrade to our premium offerings by recommending additional features and through in-product prompts and notifications. We are focused on increasing recurring revenue and we believe that users that subscribe to our premium paid offerings demonstrate a propensity to retain and expand their deployments over time. We seek to expand within organizations through viral means by adding new users, having workplaces purchase additional products, or expanding the use of Dropbox into other departments within a workplace. We often see enterprise IT decision-makers deciding to adopt Dropbox after noticing substantial organic adoption by individuals and teams within the organization. If our paying users cancel their subscriptions or fail to renew, or if we fail to upgrade our paying users to premium offerings or expand within organizations, our business, results of operations, and financial condition may be harmed. Furthermore, we have and may continue to see an increase in customers opting for our monthly plans rather than our annual plans, including from users who upgrade to paid plans using mobile devices. As a result, if more of our users subscribe to our paid plans through mobile devices or otherwise opt for monthly plans, subscription renewals may fluctuate or decline. We believe these efforts, and certain fees from the referral of users to our partners, will generate increased recurring revenues from our existing user base. However, if users do not believe these offerings are compelling, they may not retain or expand their deployments, and we may not be able to increase the amount of recurring revenue from our user base.
Although it is important to our business that our users renew their subscriptions after their existing subscriptions expire and that we expand our commercial relationships with our users, given the volume of our users, we do not actively monitor the retention rates of our individual users. As a result, we may be unable to address any retention issues with specific users in a timely manner, which could harm our business.
Our future growth could be harmed if we fail to attract new users or convert registered users to paying users.
We must continually add new users to grow our business beyond our current user base and to replace users who choose not to continue to use our platform. Historically, our revenue has been driven by our self-serve model, and we generate more than 90% of our revenue from self-serve channels. Any decrease in user satisfaction with our products or support could harm our brand, word-of-mouth referrals, and ability to grow.
Additionally, many of our users initially access our platform free of charge. We strive to demonstrate the value of our platform to our registered users, thereby encouraging them to convert to paying users through in-product prompts and notifications, and time-limited trials of paid subscription plans. As of December 31, 2020, we served over 700 million registered users but only 15.48 million paying users. The actual number of unique users is lower than we report as one person
may register more than once for our platform. As a result, we have fewer unique registered users that we may be able to convert to paying users. A majority of our registered users may never convert to a paid subscription to our platform, and failure to convert users to a paid subscription will restrict our ability to grow our revenue.
In addition, our user growth rate has and may continue to slow in the future as our market penetration rates increase and we turn our focus to converting registered users to paying users rather than growing the total number of registered users. The availability of less expensive and bundled competitive products also has and may continue to slow our user growth rate and negatively impact our ability to convert registered users to paying users. If we are not able to continue to expand our user base or fail to convert our registered users to paying users, demand for our paid services and our revenue may grow more slowly than expected or decline. Furthermore, catastrophic events that financially impact our registered users and other prospective paying users, such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, may cause these users to delay or reduce technology spending, which may impact our ability to convert registered users or otherwise attract new paying users.
We have a limited history of operating with a Virtual First workforce and the long-term impact on our financial results and business operations is uncertain.
In October 2020, we announced a new Virtual First work model pursuant to which remote work will become the primary experience for all of our employees and our intention is for our workforce to become more distributed over time. However, we have a limited history of operating with a Virtual First workforce and, although we anticipate that our shift to a new Virtual First work model will have a long-term positive impact on our financial results and business operations, the impact remains uncertain. Additionally, there is no guarantee that we will realize any anticipated benefits to our business, including any cost savings, operational efficiencies, or productivity.
Our shift to Virtual First could make it increasingly difficult to manage our business and adequately oversee our employees and business functions, potentially resulting in harm to our company culture, increased employee attrition, and the loss of key personnel, as well as potentially negatively impacting product research and development and the growth of our business. We may also experience an increased risk of privacy and data security breaches involving our data or our users’ content. Any of these factors could adversely affect our financial condition and operating results.
In addition, we expect that we will need less office space than we are currently contractually committed to leasing and as a result, we have and may in the future record impairment charges related to the office spaces we no longer expect to need, which has impacted and may in the future impact our ability to achieve GAAP profitability in future periods. Furthermore, a prolonged recessionary period and industry shifts towards remote work, including as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, may prevent us from finding subtenants for our unused office space on favorable terms or at all. In the event that we are unable to sublease our space on favorable terms or at all, or if we are able to sublease space but our subtenants fail to make lease payments to us or otherwise default on their obligations to us, we may generate less sublease income than we have currently estimated, continue to incur substantial payment obligations under our leases and incur additional or higher impairment charges than we have currently estimated, any of which could materially and adversely affect our business, cash flows, results of operations, profitability, and financial condition.
We operate in competitive markets, and we must continue to compete effectively.
The market for content collaboration platforms is competitive and rapidly changing. Certain features of our platform compete in the cloud storage market with products offered by Microsoft, Amazon, Apple and Google and in the content collaboration market with products offered by Microsoft, Atlassian, Slack, and Google. We compete with Box on a more limited basis in the cloud storage market for deployments by large enterprises. We also compete with smaller private companies that offer point solutions in the cloud storage market or the content collaboration market. We believe the principal competitive factors in our markets include the following:
•ease of adoption and use;
•scale of user network;
•features and platform experience
•security and privacy
•accessibility across several devices, operating system, and applications;
•continued innovation; and
With the introduction of new technologies and market entrants, we expect competition to intensify. Many of our actual and potential competitors or alliances among competitors benefit from competitive advantages over us, such as greater name recognition, longer operating histories, more varied products and services, larger marketing budgets, more established marketing relationships, access to larger user bases, major distribution agreements with hardware manufacturers and resellers, and greater financial, technical, and other resources. Some of our competitors may make acquisitions or enter into strategic relationships to offer a broader range of products and services than we do. These combinations may make it more difficult for us to compete effectively. We expect these trends to continue as competitors attempt to strengthen or maintain their market positions.
Demand for our platform is also sensitive to price. Many factors, including our marketing, user acquisition and technology costs, and our current and future competitors’ pricing and marketing strategies, can significantly affect our pricing strategies. Certain of our competitors offer, or may in the future offer, lower-priced or free products or services that compete with our platform or may bundle and offer a broader range of products and services.
Similarly, certain competitors may use marketing strategies that enable them to acquire users at a lower cost than us. There can be no assurance that we will not be forced to engage in price-cutting initiatives or to increase our marketing and other expenses to attract and retain users in response to competitive pressures, either of which could materially and adversely affect our business, results of operations, and financial condition.
Our business could be damaged, and we could be subject to liability if there is any unauthorized access to our data or our users’ content, including through privacy and data security breaches.
The use of our platform involves the transmission, storage, and processing of user content, some of which may be considered personally identifiable, confidential, or sensitive. We face security threats from malicious third parties that could obtain unauthorized access to our systems, infrastructure, and networks. We anticipate that these threats will continue to grow in scope and complexity over time. For example, in 2016, we learned that an old set of Dropbox user credentials for approximately 68 million accounts was released. These credentials consisted of email addresses and passwords protected by cryptographic techniques known as hashing and salting. Hashing and salting can make it more difficult to obtain the original password, but may not fully protect the original password from being obtained. We believe these Dropbox user credentials were obtained in 2012 and related to a security incident we disclosed to users. In response, we notified all existing users we believed to be affected and completed a password reset for anyone who had not updated their password since mid-2012. We have responded to this event by expanding our security team and data monitoring capabilities and continuing to work on features such as two-factor authentication to increase protection of user information. While we believe our corrective actions will reduce the likelihood of similar incidents occurring in the future, third parties might use techniques that we are unable to defend against to compromise and infiltrate our systems, infrastructure, and networks.
Emerging and evolving cybersecurity threats such as the recently reported attack on SolarWinds pose unique challenges and involve sophisticated threat actors. In this fast-changing threat environment, we have undertaken a comprehensive review of our security posture to identify gaps, threats, and vulnerabilities. As a result, we are actively taking additional and ongoing steps to further strengthen our cybersecurity capabilities. If we fail to respond appropriately to any identified gaps, threats or vulnerabilities, including by providing adequate funding and prioritizing strategic initiatives, we may face greater risk that an unauthorized party will obtain access to our systems, networks, or data. We may fail to detect the existence of a breach of user content and be unable to prevent unauthorized access to user and company content. The techniques used to obtain unauthorized access, disable or degrade service, or sabotage systems change frequently and are often not recognized until launched against a
target. They may originate from less regulated or remote areas around the world, or from state-sponsored actors. If our security measures are breached, or our users’ content is otherwise accessed through unauthorized means, or if any such actions are believed to occur, our platform may be perceived as insecure, and we may lose existing users or fail to attract and retain new users.
We may rely on third parties when deploying our infrastructure, and in doing so, expose it to security risks outside of our direct control. We rely on outside vendors and contractors to perform services necessary for the operation of the business, and they may fail to adequately secure our user and company content data. This risk may increase when vendors and contractors work remotely, such as during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition, certain developers or other partners who create applications that integrate with our platform, may receive or store information provided by us or by our users through these applications. If these third parties or developers fail to adopt or adhere to adequate data security practices, or in the event of a breach of their networks, our data or our users' data may be improperly accessed, used, or disclosed.
Third parties may attempt to compromise our employees and their privileged access into internal systems to gain access to accounts, our information, our networks, or our systems. Employee error, malfeasance, or other errors in the storage, use, or transmission of personal information could result in an actual or perceived breach of user privacy. This risk may be heightened as we transition to a Virtual First and increasingly distributed workforce. In addition, our users may also disclose or lose control of their passwords, or use the same or similar passwords on third parties’ systems, which could lead to unauthorized access to their accounts on our platform.
Any unauthorized or inadvertent access to, or an actual or perceived security breach of, our systems, infrastructure, or networks could result in an actual or perceived loss of, or unauthorized access to, our data or our users’ content, regulatory investigations and orders, litigation, indemnity obligations, damages, penalties, fines, and other costs in connection with actual and alleged contractual breaches, violations of applicable laws and regulations, and other liabilities. Any such incident could also materially damage our reputation and harm our business, results of operations, and financial condition, including reducing our revenue, causing us to issue credits to users, negatively impacting our ability to accept and process user payment information, eroding our users’ trust in our services and payment solutions, subjecting us to costly user notification or remediation, harming our ability to retain users, harming our brand, or increasing our cost of acquiring new users. We maintain errors, omissions, and cyber liability insurance policies covering certain security and privacy damages. However, we cannot be certain that our coverage will be adequate for liabilities actually incurred or that insurance will continue to be available to us on economically reasonable terms, or at all. Further, if a high-profile security breach occurs with respect to another content collaboration solutions provider, our users and potential users could lose trust in the security of content collaboration solutions providers generally, which could adversely impact our ability to retain users or attract new ones.
Our business could be harmed by any significant disruption of service on our platform or loss of content.
Our brand, reputation, and ability to attract, retain, and serve our users are dependent upon the reliable performance of our platform, including our underlying technical infrastructure. Our users rely on our platform to store digital copies of their valuable content, including financial records, business information, documents, photos, and other important content. Our technical infrastructure may not be adequately designed with sufficient reliability and redundancy to avoid performance delays or outages that could be harmful to our business, and turnover in our personnel, may additionally impact our ability to respond to any such delays or outages. If our platform is unavailable when users attempt to access it, or if it does not load as quickly as they expect, users may not use our platform as often in the future, or at all.
As our user base and the amount and types of information stored, synced, and shared on our platform continues to grow, we will need an increasing amount of technical infrastructure, including network capacity and computing power, to continue to satisfy the needs of our users. The vast majority of user content is stored at our own custom-built infrastructure in co-location facilities that we directly lease and operate. As we add to our infrastructure, we may move or transfer additional content.
Further, as we continue to grow and scale our business to meet the needs of our users, we may overestimate or underestimate our infrastructure capacity requirements, which could adversely affect our results of operations. The costs associated with leasing and maintaining our custom-built infrastructure in co-location facilities and third-party datacenters already constitute a significant portion of our capital and operating expenses. We continuously evaluate our short- and long-term infrastructure capacity requirements to ensure adequate capacity for new and existing users while minimizing unnecessary excess capacity costs. If we overestimate the demand for our platform and therefore secure excess infrastructure capacity, our operating margins could be reduced. If we underestimate our infrastructure capacity requirements, we may not be able to
service the expanding needs of new and existing users, and our hosting facilities, network, or systems may fail. Additionally, our ability to accurately perform capacity planning is dependent on the reliability of the global supply chain for hardware, network, and platform infrastructure equipment. Significant and unforeseen disruptions to the supply chain, including those resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to competition for a limited supply of such equipment, may impede our ability to meet our short-term or long-term infrastructure capacity requirements. Furthermore, our efforts to mitigate such disruptions and compete for such equipment may impact the timing and magnitude of our infrastructure spending, resulting in unexpected increases in shorter-term or longer-term costs than originally projected.
In addition, the datacenters that we use are vulnerable to damage or interruption from human error, intentional bad acts, earthquakes, floods, fires, war, terrorist attacks, power losses, hardware failures, systems failures, telecommunications failures, and similar events, any of which could disrupt our service, destroy user content, or prevent us from being able to continuously back up or record changes in our users’ content. In the event of significant physical damage to one of these datacenters, it may take a significant period of time to achieve full resumption of our services, and our disaster recovery planning may not account for all eventualities. Damage or interruptions to these datacenters could harm our platform and business.
The full extent of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business is currently unknown, but it may adversely affect our financial results as well as our business operations.
The full extent of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our financial results and business operations are currently unknown and cannot be estimated with any degree of certainty. Impacts to our financial results may include, without limitation, (1) negative impacts to our current and prospective users’ purchases or renewals of paid licenses for access to our platform, delays or defaults on payment obligations, which could negatively affect our revenues and cash flows, (2) modifications to net payment terms or invoice frequency, which could negatively affect our cash flows, (3) fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates, which have and may in the future negatively impact our results of operations and cash flows, and (4) decreases in interest rates, which have and may continue to reduce interest income. Impacts to our business operations may include, without limitation, (1) disruptions to our sales operations and marketing efforts, (2) negative impacts to the financial condition or operations of our vendors and business partners, as well as disruptions to the supply chain of hardware needed to offer our services, (3) disruptions to our ability to conduct product development and other important business activities, and (4) potential postponement or cancellation of previously planned investments or other initiatives. Accordingly, the COVID-19 pandemic may have a negative impact on our financial results as well as our business operations, the magnitude and duration of which we are currently unable to predict. Additionally, concerns over the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic have caused extreme volatility in financial and other capital markets which may adversely impact our stock price.
We generate revenue from sales of subscriptions to our platform, and any decline in demand for our platform or for content collaboration solutions in general could negatively impact our business.
We generate, and expect to continue to generate, revenue from the sale of subscriptions to our platform. As a result, widespread acceptance and use of content collaboration solutions in general, and our platform in particular, is critical to our future growth and success. If the content collaboration market fails to grow or grows more slowly than we currently anticipate, or if the current shift to remote or distributed work does not materialize into a longer-term trend, demand for our platform could be negatively affected.
Changes in user preferences for content collaboration may have a disproportionately greater impact on us than if we offered multiple platforms or disparate products. Demand for content collaboration solutions in general, and our platform in particular, is affected by a number of factors, many of which are beyond our control. Some of these potential factors include:
•awareness of the content collaboration category generally;
•availability of products and services that compete with ours;
•the impact, scale, and duration, of trends towards or away from remote or distributed work;
•ease of adoption and use;
•features and platform experience;
•security and privacy;
•customer support; and
The content collaboration market is subject to rapidly changing user demand and trends in preferences. If we fail to successfully predict and address these changes and trends, meet user demands, or achieve more widespread market acceptance of our platform, our business, results of operations, and financial condition could be harmed.
Our business depends upon the interoperability of our platform across devices, operating systems, and third-party applications that we do not control.
One of the most important features of our platform is its broad interoperability with a range of diverse devices, operating systems, and third-party applications. Our platform is accessible from the web and from devices running Windows, Mac OS, iOS, Android, WindowsMobile, and Linux. We also have integrations with Microsoft, Adobe, Apple, Salesforce, Atlassian, Slack, BetterCloud, Google, IBM, Cisco, VMware, Okta, Symantec, Palo Alto Networks, Zoom, and a variety of other productivity, collaboration, data management, and security vendors. We are dependent on the accessibility of our platform across these third-party operating systems and applications that we do not control. Several of our competitors own, develop, operate, or distribute operating systems, app stores, third-party datacenter services, and other software, and also have material business relationships with companies that own, develop, operate, or distribute operating systems, applications markets, third-party datacenter services, and other software that our platform requires in order to operate. Moreover, some of these competitors have inherent advantages developing products and services that more tightly integrate with their software and hardware platforms or those of their business partners.
Third-party services and products are constantly evolving, and we may not be able to modify our platform to assure its compatibility with that of other third parties following development changes. In addition, some of our competitors may be able to disrupt the operations or compatibility of our platform with their products or services, or exert strong business influence on our ability to, and terms on which we, operate and distribute our platform. For example, we currently offer products that directly compete with several large technology companies that we rely on to ensure the interoperability of our platform with their products or services. We also rely on these companies to make our mobile applications available through their app stores. As our respective products evolve, we expect this level of competition to increase. Should any of our competitors modify their products or standards in a manner that degrades the functionality of our platform or gives preferential treatment to competitive products or services, whether to enhance their competitive position or for any other reason, the interoperability of our platform with these products could decrease and our business, results of operations, and financial condition could be harmed.
Failure to respond to rapid technological changes, extend our platform, or develop new features or products may harm our ability to compete effectively which would adversely affect our business.
The content collaboration market is characterized by rapid technological change and frequent new product and service introductions. Our ability to grow our user base and increase revenue from existing users will depend heavily on our ability to enhance and improve our platform, introduce new features and products, increase our strategic partnerships with third parties, and interoperate across an increasing range of devices, operating systems, and third-party applications. Users may require features and capabilities that our current platform does not have. In addition, while we believe current trends towards remote or distributed work will prove to be significant and long lasting, and that these trends will open up increased market opportunities for us, such trends or opportunities may not materialize or, if they do, we may not be able to develop new features or products, or enhance our existing offerings, sufficiently to take advantage of them. We invest significantly in research and development, and our goal is to focus our spending on measures that improve quality and ease of adoption and create organic user demand for our platform. For example, in 2017, we released Smart Sync, an advanced productivity feature, and introduced Paper, a collaborative product experience. In 2018, we announced Dropbox Extensions, which allows users to initiate and manage workflows with third-party partner applications from Dropbox. More recently, in 2019, we launched Dropbox Spaces, an evolution of the shared folder which creates a collaborative workspace for individuals and teams to work together. There is no assurance that our enhancements to our platform or our new product experiences, partnerships, features, or capabilities will be compelling to our users or gain market acceptance. If our research and development investments do not accurately anticipate user demand, we are unsuccessful in establishing or maintaining our strategic partnerships, or if we fail to develop our platform in a manner that satisfies user preferences in a timely and cost-effective manner, we may fail to retain our existing users or increase demand for our platform.
The introduction of new products and services by competitors or the development of entirely new technologies to replace existing offerings could make our platform obsolete or adversely affect our business, results of operations, and financial condition. We may experience difficulties with software development, design, or marketing that could delay or prevent our development, introduction, or implementation of new product experiences, features, or capabilities. We also may experience broad-based business or economic disruptions that could adversely affect the productivity of our employees and result in delays in the development or implementation process. For example, as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we are temporarily requiring substantially all of our employees to work remotely, which may lead to disruptions and decreased productivity that could result in delays in our product development process. The risk of such disruptions and decreased productivity may persist, as we transition to a Virtual First workforce. We have in the past experienced delays in our internally planned release dates of new features and capabilities, and there can be no assurance that new product experiences, features, or capabilities will be released according to schedule. Any delays could result in adverse publicity, loss of revenue or market acceptance, or claims by users brought against us, all of which could have a material and adverse effect on our reputation, business, results of operations, and financial condition. Moreover, new features may require substantial investment, and we have no assurance that such investments will be successful. If users do not widely adopt our new product experiences, features, and capabilities, we may not be able to realize a return on our investment. If we are unable to develop, license, or acquire new features and capabilities to our platform on a timely and cost-effective basis, or if such enhancements do not achieve market acceptance, our business, results of operations, and financial condition could be adversely affected.
We may not successfully manage our growth or plan for future growth.
Since our founding in 2007, we have experienced rapid growth. The growth and expansion of our business, including the introduction of new features and products, places a continuous significant strain on our management, operational, and financial resources. As we introduce new products and features, and our user base and third-party relationships expand, our information technology systems, organizational structures, and internal controls and procedures may not be adequate to support our operations. In addition, we face challenges of integrating, developing, and motivating an increasingly distributed employee base in various countries around the world. These challenges may be heightened as we transition to a Virtual First workforce and seek to align our resources in order to create a more nimble and streamlined organization. Certain members of our management have not previously worked together for an extended period of time and some do not have prior experience managing a public company, which may affect how they manage our growth. Managing our growth will also require significant expenditures and allocation of valuable management resources.
In addition, the expansion of our business may make it difficult to evaluate our future prospects. Our ability to forecast our future results of operations is subject to a number of uncertainties, including our ability to effectively plan for and model future growth. We have encountered in the past, and may encounter in the future, risks and uncertainties frequently experienced by growing companies in rapidly changing industries. If we fail to achieve the necessary level of efficiency in our organization as it grows, or if we are not able to accurately forecast future growth, our business, results of operations, and financial condition could be harmed.
We depend on our key personnel and other highly qualified personnel, and if we fail to attract, integrate, and retain our personnel, and maintain our unique corporate culture, our business could be harmed.
We depend on the continued service and performance of our key personnel. In particular, Andrew W. Houston, our Chief Executive Officer and one of our co-founders, is critical to our vision, strategic direction, culture, and offerings. From time to time, there have been changes in our management team resulting from the hiring or departure of our executives, and there may be additional changes in the future. For example, Olivia Nottebohm stepped down as our Chief Operating Officer in February 2021. While we seek to manage these transitions carefully, such changes may result in a loss of institutional knowledge and may cause disruptions to our business. If we fail to successfully integrate new key personnel into our organization or if key employees are unable to successfully transition into new roles, our business could be adversely affected.
All of our officers and key personnel are at-will employees. In addition, many of our key technologies and systems are custom-made for our business by our key personnel. The loss of key personnel, including key members of our management team, as well as certain of our key marketing, sales, product development, or technology personnel, could disrupt our operations and have an adverse effect on our ability to grow our business. In addition, while we believe our new Virtual First strategy will give us the opportunity to realign our resources in order to create a more nimble and streamlined organization, we can provide no assurance that we will be able to successfully execute on these plans, and failure to successfully manage these transitions may cause disruptions to our business.
To execute our business plan, we must attract and retain highly qualified personnel. Competition for these employees is intense, particularly in the San Francisco Bay Area where our headquarters is located, and we may not be successful in attracting and retaining qualified personnel. We have from time to time in the past experienced, and we expect to continue to
experience, difficulty in hiring and retaining highly skilled employees with appropriate qualifications. As we transition to a Virtual First workforce, our recent hires and planned hires may not become as productive as we expect, and we may be unable to hire, integrate, or retain sufficient numbers of qualified individuals. Many of the companies with which we compete for experienced personnel have greater resources than we have. In addition, in making employment decisions, particularly in the internet and high-technology industries, job candidates often consider the value of the equity they are to receive in connection with their employment. Employees may be more likely to leave us if the shares they own or the shares underlying their equity incentive awards have significantly appreciated or significantly reduced in value. Many of our employees may receive significant proceeds from sales of our equity in the public markets, which may reduce their motivation to continue to work for us. Furthermore, our workforce reduction in January 2021 may result in increased attrition beyond our intended reduction-in-force, reduce employee morale and negatively impact employee recruiting and retention. If we fail to attract new personnel, or fail to retain and motivate our current personnel, our business and growth prospects could be harmed.
Additionally, if we do not maintain and continue to develop our corporate culture as we grow and evolve, it could harm our ability to foster the innovation, creativity, and teamwork we believe that we need to support our growth. Additions of executive-level management, significant numbers of new employees, our workforce reduction and higher employee turnover could significantly and adversely impact our culture, as could our transition to a Virtual First workforce.
Our lack of a significant outbound sales force may limit the potential growth of our business.
Historically, our business model has been driven by organic adoption and viral growth, with more than 90% of our revenue generated from self-serve channels. As a result, we do not have a significant outbound sales force, which has enabled us to be more efficient with our sales and marketing spend. Furthermore, as part of our workforce reduction in January 2021 we have reduced the size of our outbound sales force to simplify and drive further efficiencies in our outbound sales operations. Although we believe our business model can continue to scale without a large outbound sales force, our word-of-mouth and user referral marketing model may not continue to be as successful as we anticipate, and our limited experience selling directly to large organizations through our outbound sales force may impede our future growth. As we continue to scale our business, an enhanced sales infrastructure could assist in reaching larger organizations and growing our revenue. Identifying and recruiting additional qualified sales personnel and training them would require significant time, expense, and attention, and would significantly impact our business model. Further, adding more sales personnel would change our cost structure and results of operations, and we may have to reduce other expenses in order to accommodate a corresponding increase in sales and marketing expenses. If our limited outbound sales force and lack of experience selling and marketing to large organizations prevents us from reaching larger organizations and growing our revenue, and if we are unable to hire, develop, and retain talented sales personnel in the future, our business, results of operations, and financial condition could be adversely affected.
We may expand sales to large organizations, which could lengthen sales cycles and result in greater deployment challenges.
As our business evolves, we may need to invest more resources into sales to large organizations. Large organizations may undertake a significant evaluation and negotiation process, which can lengthen our sales cycle. We may also face unexpected deployment challenges with large organizations or more complicated deployment of our platform. Large organizations may demand more configuration and integration of our platform or require additional security management or control features. We may spend substantial time, effort, and money on sales efforts to large organizations without any assurance that our efforts will produce any sales. Additionally, our ability to sell via an outbound sales force has been, and may continue to be, impeded by catastrophic events, including public health epidemics such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, that limit our ability to travel or meet in person, as well as the reduction in the size of our outbound sales force as part of our workforce reduction in January 2021. As a result, sales to large organizations may lead to greater unpredictability in our business, results of operations, and financial condition.
Any failure to offer high-quality customer support may harm our relationships with our users and our financial results.
We have designed our platform to be easy to adopt and use with minimal to no support necessary. Any increased user demand for customer support could increase costs and harm our results of operations. In addition, as we continue to grow our operations and support our global user base, we need to be able to continue to provide efficient customer support that meets our customers’ needs globally at scale. Paying users receive additional customer support features and the number of our paying users has grown significantly, which will put additional pressure on our support organization. For example, the number of paying users has grown from 8.81 million as of December 31, 2016, to 15.48 million as of December 31, 2020. If we are unable to provide efficient customer support globally at scale, our ability to grow our operations may be harmed and we may need to hire additional support personnel, which could harm our results of operations. Our new user signups are highly dependent on our business reputation and on positive recommendations from our existing users. Any failure to maintain high-quality customer
support, or a market perception that we do not maintain high-quality customer support, could harm our reputation, business, results of operations, and financial condition.
Our business depends on a strong brand, and if we are not able to maintain and enhance our brand, our ability to expand our base of users will be impaired and our business, results of operations, and financial condition will be harmed.
We believe that our brand identity and awareness have contributed to our success and have helped fuel our efficient go-to-market strategy. We also believe that maintaining and enhancing the Dropbox brand is critical to expanding our base of users. We anticipate that, as our market becomes increasingly competitive, maintaining and enhancing our brand may become increasingly difficult and expensive. Any unfavorable publicity or consumer perception of our platform or the providers of content collaboration solutions generally could adversely affect our reputation and our ability to attract and retain users. Additionally, if we fail to promote and maintain the Dropbox brand, our business, results of operations, and financial condition will be materially and adversely affected.
We are continuing to expand our operations outside the United States, where we may be subject to increased business and economic risks that could impact our results of operations.
We have paying users across 180 countries and approximately half of our revenue in the year ended December 31, 2020 was generated from paying users outside the United States. We expect to continue to expand our international operations, which may include employees working in new jurisdictions and providing our platform in additional languages. Any new markets or countries into which we attempt to sell subscriptions to our platform may not be receptive. For example, we may not be able to expand further in some markets if we are not able to satisfy certain government- and industry-specific requirements. In addition, our ability to manage our business and conduct our operations internationally requires considerable management attention and resources and is subject to the particular challenges of supporting a rapidly growing business in an environment of multiple languages, cultures, customs, legal and regulatory systems, alternative dispute systems, and commercial markets. International expansion has required, and will continue to require, investment of significant funds and other resources. Operating internationally subjects us to new risks and may increase risks that we currently face, including risks associated with:
•compliance with applicable international laws and regulations, including laws and regulations with respect to privacy, data protection, consumer protection, and unsolicited email, and the risk of penalties to our users and individual members of management or employees if our practices are deemed to be out of compliance;
•recruiting and retaining talented and capable employees outside the United States, and maintaining our company culture across all of our offices, including as we shift to a Virtual First and increasingly distributed workforce;
•providing our platform and operating our business across a significant distance, in different languages and among different cultures, including the potential need to modify our platform and features to ensure that they are culturally appropriate and relevant in different countries;
•management of an employee base in jurisdictions that may not give us the same employment and retention flexibility as does the United States;
•operating in jurisdictions that do not protect intellectual property rights to the same extent as does the United States;
•compliance by us and our business partners with anti-corruption laws, import and export control laws, tariffs, trade barriers, economic sanctions, and other regulatory limitations on our ability to provide our platform in certain international markets;
•foreign exchange controls that might require significant lead time in setting up operations in certain geographic territories and might prevent us from repatriating cash earned outside the United States;
•political and economic instability;
•changes in diplomatic and trade relationships, including the imposition of new trade restrictions, trade protection measures, import or export requirements, trade embargoes and other trade barriers;
•double taxation of our international earnings and potentially adverse tax consequences due to changes in the income and other tax laws of the United States or the international jurisdictions in which we operate;
•higher costs of doing business internationally, including increased accounting, travel, infrastructure, and legal compliance costs; and
•the impact of natural disasters and public health epidemics on employees, travel and the global economy, including the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic
Compliance with laws and regulations applicable to our global operations substantially increases our cost of doing business in international jurisdictions. We may be unable to keep current with changes in laws and regulations as they change. Although we have implemented policies and procedures designed to support compliance with these laws and regulations, there can be no assurance that we will always maintain compliance or that all of our employees, contractors, partners, and agents will comply. Any violations could result in regulatory investigations and enforcement actions, fines, civil and criminal penalties, damages, injunctions, or reputational harm. If we are unable comply with these laws and regulations or manage the complexity of our global operations successfully, our business, results of operations, and financial condition could be adversely affected.
We depend on our infrastructure and third-party datacenters, and any disruption in the operation of these facilities or failure to renew the services could adversely affect our business.
We host our services and serve all of our users using a combination of our own custom-built infrastructure that we lease and operate in co-location facilities and third-party datacenter services such as Amazon Web Services. While we typically control and have access to the servers we operate in co-location facilities and the components of our custom-built infrastructure that are located in those co-location facilities, we control neither the operation of these facilities nor our third-party service providers. Furthermore, we have no physical access or control over the services provided by Amazon Web Services.
Datacenter leases and agreements with the providers of datacenter services expire at various times. The owners of these datacenters and providers of these datacenter services may have no obligation to renew their agreements with us on commercially reasonable terms, or at all. Problems faced by datacenters, with our third-party datacenter service providers, with the telecommunications network providers with whom we or they contract, or with the systems by which our telecommunications providers allocate capacity among their users, including us, could adversely affect the experience of our users. Our third-party datacenter operators could decide to close their facilities or cease providing services without adequate notice. In addition, any financial difficulties, such as bankruptcy, faced by our third-party datacenter operators or any of the service providers with whom we or they contract may have negative effects on our business, the nature and extent of which are difficult to predict.
If the datacenters and service providers that we use are unable to keep up with our growing needs for capacity, or if we are unable to renew our agreements with datacenters, and service providers on commercially reasonable terms, we may be required to transfer servers or content to new datacenters or engage new service providers, and we may incur significant costs, and possible service interruption in connection with doing so. Any changes in third-party service levels at datacenters or any real or perceived errors, defects, disruptions, or other performance problems with our platform could harm our reputation and may result in damage to, or loss or compromise of, our users’ content. Interruptions in our platform might, among other things, reduce our revenue, cause us to issue refunds to users, subject us to potential liability, harm our reputation, or decrease our renewal rates.
We have relationships with third parties to provide, develop, and create applications that integrate with our platform, and our business could be harmed if we are not able to continue these relationships.
We use software and services licensed and procured from third parties to develop and offer our platform. We may need to obtain future licenses and services from third parties to use intellectual property and technology associated with the development of our platform, which might not be available to us on acceptable terms, or at all. Any loss of the right to use any software or services required for the development and maintenance of our platform could result in delays in the provision of our platform until equivalent technology is either developed by us, or, if available from others, is identified, obtained, and integrated, which could harm our platform and business. Any errors or defects in third-party software or services could result in errors or a failure of our platform, which could harm our business, results of operations, and financial condition.
We also depend on our ecosystem of developers to create applications that will integrate with our platform. As of December 31, 2020, Dropbox was receiving over 60 billion API calls per month, and more than 750,000 developers had registered and built applications on our platform. Our reliance on this ecosystem of developers creates certain business risks relating to the quality of the applications built using our APIs, service interruptions of our platform from these applications, lack of service support for these applications, and possession of intellectual property rights associated with these applications.
We may not have the ability to control or prevent these risks. As a result, issues relating to these applications could adversely affect our business, brand, and reputation.
Our use of open source software could negatively affect our ability to offer and sell subscriptions to our platform and subject us to possible litigation.
A portion of the technologies we use incorporates open source software, and we may incorporate open source software in the future. Open source software is generally licensed by its authors or other third parties under open source licenses. These licenses may subject us to certain unfavorable conditions, including requirements that we offer our platform that incorporates the open source software for no cost, that we make publicly available source code for modifications or derivative works we create based upon, incorporating or using the open source software, and/or that we license such modifications or derivative works under the terms of the particular open source license. Additionally, if a third-party software provider has incorporated open source software into software that we license from such provider, we could be required to disclose any of our source code that incorporates or is a modification of our licensed software. If an author or other third party that distributes open source software that we use or license were to allege that we had not complied with the conditions of the applicable license, we could be required to incur significant legal expenses defending against those allegations and could be subject to significant damages, enjoined from offering or selling our solutions that contained the open source software, and required to comply with the foregoing conditions. Any of the foregoing could disrupt and harm our business, results of operations, and financial condition.
Our ability to sell subscriptions to our platform could be harmed by real or perceived material defects or errors in our platform.
The software technology underlying our platform is inherently complex and may contain material defects or errors, particularly when first introduced or when new features or capabilities are released. We have from time to time found defects or errors in our platform, and new defects or errors in our existing platform or new software may be detected in the future by us or our users. There can be no assurance that our existing platform and new software will not contain defects. Any real or perceived errors, failures, vulnerabilities, or bugs in our platform could result in negative publicity or lead to data security, access, retention, or other performance issues, all of which could harm our business. The costs incurred in correcting such defects or errors may be substantial and could harm our results of operations and financial condition. Moreover, the harm to our reputation and legal liability related to such defects or errors may be substantial and could harm our business, results of operations, and financial condition.
We also utilize hardware purchased or leased and software and services licensed from third parties on our platform. Any defects in, or unavailability of, our or third-party software, services, or hardware that cause interruptions to the availability of our services, loss of data, or performance issues could, among other things:
•cause a reduction in revenue or delay in market acceptance of our platform;
•require us to issue refunds to our users or expose us to claims for damages;
•cause us to lose existing users and make it more difficult to attract new users;
•divert our development resources or require us to make extensive changes to our platform, which would increase our expenses;
•increase our technical support costs; and
•harm our reputation and brand.
We have acquired, and may in the future acquire, other businesses, and we may also receive offers to be acquired, any of which could require significant management attention, disrupt our business, or dilute stockholder value.
As part of our business strategy, we have acquired, and may in the future acquire, other companies, employee teams, or technologies to complement or expand our products, obtain personnel, or otherwise grow our business. For example, in the first fiscal quarter of 2019, we acquired HelloSign, an e-signature and document workflow platform, to expand our content collaboration capabilities to include additional business critical workflows. The pursuit of acquisitions may divert the attention of management and cause us to incur various expenses in identifying, investigating, and pursuing suitable acquisitions, whether or not they are consummated.
We have limited experience making acquisitions. We may not be able to find suitable acquisition candidates and we may not be able to complete acquisitions on favorable terms, if at all. If we do complete acquisitions, we may not ultimately strengthen our competitive position or achieve the anticipated benefits from such acquisitions, due to a number of factors, including:
•acquisition-related costs, liabilities, or tax impacts, some of which may be unanticipated;
•difficulty integrating and retaining the personnel, intellectual property, technology infrastructure, and operations of an acquired business;
•ineffective or inadequate, controls, procedures, or policies at an acquired business;
•multiple product lines or services offerings, as a result of our acquisitions, that are offered, priced, and supported differently;
•potential unknown liabilities or risks associated with an acquired business, including those arising from existing contractual obligations or litigation matters;
•inability to maintain relationships with key customers, suppliers, and partners of an acquired business;
•lack of experience in new markets, products or technologies;
•diversion of management's attention from other business concerns; and
•use of resources that are needed in other parts of our business.
In addition, a significant portion of the purchase price of companies we acquire may be allocated to acquired goodwill. We review goodwill for impairment at least annually. In the future, if our acquisitions do not yield expected returns, we may be required to record impairment charges based this assessment, which could adversely affect our results of operations.
We may not be able to integrate acquired businesses successfully or effectively manage the combined company following an acquisition. If we fail to successfully integrate acquisitions, or the people or technologies associated with those acquisitions, the results of operations of the combined company could be adversely affected. Any integration process will require significant time, resources, and attention from management, and disrupt the ordinary functioning of our business, and we may not be able to manage the process successfully, which could adversely affect our business, results of operations, and financial condition.
Any acquisition we complete could be viewed negatively by users, developers, partners, or investors, and could have adverse effects on our existing business relationships. In addition, we may not successfully evaluate or utilize acquired technology or accurately forecast the financial impact of an acquisition transaction, including accounting charges.
We may have to pay a substantial portion of our available cash, incur debt, or issue equity securities to pay for any such acquisitions, each of which could affect our financial condition or the value of our capital stock. The sale of equity to finance any such acquisitions could result in dilution to our stockholders. If we incur more debt, it would result in increased fixed obligations and could also subject us to covenants or other restrictions that would impede our ability to flexibly operate our business.
Our business may be significantly impacted by a change in the economy, including any resulting effect on consumer or business spending.
Our business may be affected by changes in the economy generally, including any resulting effect on spending by our business and consumer users. Some of our users may view a subscription to our platform as a discretionary purchase, and our paying users may reduce their discretionary spending on our platform during an economic downturn. If an economic downturn were to occur, we may experience such a reduction in the future, especially in the event of a prolonged recessionary period. For example, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to control such pandemic have resulted in economic uncertainty worldwide and may cause, or have already caused, an economic recession in the United States and elsewhere, which could cause current and prospective paying users to delay, decrease, or cancel purchases of our products and services, or delay or default on their payment obligations. As a result, our business, results of operations, and financial condition may be significantly affected by changes in the economy generally.
Our revolving credit facility provides our lenders with a first-priority lien against substantially all of our intellectual property and certain other assets, and contains financial covenants and other restrictions on our actions that may limit our operational flexibility or otherwise adversely affect our results of operations.
We are party to a revolving credit and guarantee agreement, as amended, which contains a number of covenants that limit our ability and our subsidiaries’ ability to, among other things, incur additional indebtedness, pay dividends, make redemptions and repurchases of stock, make investments, loans and acquisitions, create liens, engage in transactions with affiliates, merge or consolidate with other companies, or sell substantially all of our assets. We are also required to maintain certain financial covenants, including a maximum consolidated leverage ratio and a minimum liquidity balance. The terms of our revolving credit facility may restrict our current and future operations and could adversely affect our ability to finance our future operations or capital needs or to execute preferred business strategies. In addition, complying with these covenants may make it more difficult for us to successfully execute our business strategy and compete against companies who are not subject to such restrictions.
A failure by us to comply with the covenants or payment requirements specified in our credit agreement, as amended, could result in an event of default under the agreement, which would give the lenders the right to terminate their commitments to provide additional loans under our revolving credit facility and to declare all borrowings outstanding, together with accrued and unpaid interest and fees, to be immediately due and payable. In addition, the lenders would have the right to proceed against the collateral we granted to them, which consists of substantially all our intellectual property and certain other assets. If the debt under our revolving credit facility were to be accelerated, we may not have sufficient cash or be able to borrow sufficient funds to refinance the debt or sell sufficient assets to repay the debt, which could immediately materially and adversely affect our business, cash flows, results of operations, and financial condition. Even if we were able to obtain new financing, it may not be on commercially reasonable terms or on terms that are acceptable to us.
Our operations may be interrupted and our business, results of operations, and financial condition could be adversely affected if we default on our leasing or credit obligations.
We finance a significant portion of our expenditures through leasing arrangements, and we may enter into additional similar arrangements in the future. As of December 31, 2020, we had an aggregate of $1,624.1 million of commitments to settle contractual obligations. In particular, we utilize both finance and operating leases to finance some of our equipment, datacenters and offices. In addition, we may draw upon our revolving credit facility to finance our operations or for other corporate purposes. If we default on these leasing or credit obligations, our leasing partners and lenders may, among other things:
•require repayment of any outstanding lease obligations;
•terminate our leasing arrangements;
•terminate our access to the leased datacenters we utilize;
•stop delivery of ordered equipment;
•sell or require us to return our leased equipment;
•require repayment of any outstanding amounts drawn on our revolving credit facility;
•terminate our revolving credit facility; or
•require us to pay significant fees, penalties, or damages.
If some or all of these events were to occur, our operations may be interrupted and our ability to fund our operations or obligations, as well as our business, results of operations, and financial condition, could be adversely affected.
Risks Related to Our Financial Performance or Results
Our revenue growth rate has declined in recent periods and may continue to slow in the future.
We have experienced significant revenue growth in prior periods. However, our rates of revenue growth have slowed and may continue to slow in future periods. Many factors may contribute to declines in our growth rates, including higher market penetration, increased competition, particularly from the availability of less expensive and bundled competitive products, slowing demand for our platform, a decrease in the growth of the overall content collaboration market, a failure by us to continue capitalizing on growth opportunities, the impact of catastrophic events on economic conditions or on our current and prospective paying users, and the maturation of our business, among others. You should not rely on the revenue growth of any prior quarterly or annual period as an indication of our future performance. If our growth rates decline, investors’ perceptions of our business and the trading price of our Class A common stock could be adversely affected.
We have a history of net losses, we may increase expenses in the future, and we may not be able to achieve or maintain profitability.
We have incurred net losses on an annual basis since our inception. We incurred net losses of $256.3 million, $52.7 million, and $484.9 million in the years ended December 31, 2020, 2019, and 2018, respectively, and we had an accumulated deficit of $2,241.4 million as of December 31, 2020. While we have been profitable on a GAAP basis in prior fiscal quarters, we have not been profitable for a full fiscal year, and we may not achieve or maintain profitability in future periods. As we strive to grow our business, expenses may increase, particularly as we continue to make investments to scale our business. For example, we will need an increasing amount of technical infrastructure to continue to satisfy the needs of our user base. Our research and development expenses may also increase as we plan to continue to hire employees for our engineering, product, and design teams to support these efforts. These investments may not result in increased revenue or growth in our business or our revenue may not grow to the extent we expect and expense growth may outpace revenue. Further, we have created mobile applications and mobile versions of Dropbox that are distributed to users primarily through app stores operated by Apple and Google, each of whom charge us in-application purchase fees. As a result, if more of our users subscribe to our products through mobile applications, these fees may have an adverse impact on our results of operations. In addition, although we anticipate that our shift to a new Virtual First work model will have a long-term positive impact on our financial results and business operations, the impact remains uncertain. We have incurred impairment charges related to our facilities and may incur additional or unanticipated expense related to subleasing our facilities, including lower than anticipated sublease income that may result in additional or higher impairment charges than we have currently estimated, particularly if we are unable to sublease our unused office space on favorable terms or at all or if our subtenants fail to make lease payments to us in connection with our shift to a Virtual First model. We may also encounter unforeseen or unpredictable factors, including unforeseen operating expenses, complications, or delays, which may result in increased costs, or cause us to generate less sublease income than we have currently estimated. Furthermore, it is difficult to predict the size and growth rate of our market, user demand for our platform or for any new features or products we develop, user adoption and renewal of our platform or of any new features or products we develop, the entry of competitive products and services, or the success of existing competitive products and services. As a result, we may not achieve or maintain profitability in future periods. If we fail to grow our revenue sufficiently to keep pace with our investments and other expenses, our results of operations and financial condition would be adversely affected.
Our quarterly results may fluctuate significantly and may not fully reflect the underlying performance of our business.
Our quarterly results of operations, including our revenue, gross margin, operating margin, profitability, cash flow from operations, and deferred revenue, may vary significantly in the future and period-to-period comparisons of our results of operations may not be meaningful. Accordingly, the results of any one quarter should not be relied upon as an indication of future performance. For example, while we have been profitable on a GAAP basis in prior fiscal quarters, our quarterly operating results have fluctuated in the past and will fluctuate in the future. Our quarterly results of operations may fluctuate as a result of a variety of factors, many of which are outside of our control, and as a result, may not fully reflect the underlying performance of our business. Fluctuation in quarterly results may negatively impact the value of our securities. Factors that may cause fluctuations in our quarterly results of operations include, without limitation, those listed below:
•our ability to retain and upgrade paying users;
•our ability to attract new paying users and convert registered to paying users;
•the timing of expenses and recognition of revenue;
•the amount and timing of operating expenses related to the maintenance and expansion of our business,
•operations, and infrastructure, as well as entry into operating and finance leases;
•the timing of expenses related to acquisitions;
•any large indemnification payments to our users or other third parties;
•changes in our pricing policies or those of our competitors;
•the timing and success of new product feature and service introductions by us or our competitors;
•network outages or actual or perceived security breaches;
•changes in the competitive dynamic of our industry, including consolidation among competitors;
•changes in laws and regulations that impact our business;
•general economic and market conditions;
•catastrophic events, including earthquakes, fires, floods, tsunamis, or other weather events, power loss, telecommunications failures, software or hardware malfunctions, cyber-attack, war, or terrorist attacks, and pandemics such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic;
•changes in reserves or other non-cash credits or charges, such as the impairment charges related to certain of our unused office space in connection with our shift to a new Virtual First work model and releases of deferred tax asset valuation allowances; and
•any other impacts of shifting our operations to a new Virtual First work model.
Our results of operations may not immediately reflect downturns or upturns in sales because we recognize revenue from our users over the term of their subscriptions with us.
We recognize revenue from subscriptions to our platform over the terms of these subscriptions. Our subscription arrangements generally have monthly or annual contractual terms, and we also have a small percentage of multi-year contractual terms. Amounts that have been billed are initially recorded as deferred revenue until the revenue is recognized. As a result, a large portion of our revenue for each quarter reflects deferred revenue from subscriptions entered into during previous quarters, and downturns or upturns in subscription sales, or renewals and potential changes in our pricing policies may not be reflected in our results of operations until later periods. Our subscription model also makes it difficult for us to rapidly increase our revenue through additional sales in any period, as subscription revenue from new users is recognized over the applicable subscription term. By contrast, a significant majority of our costs are expensed as incurred, which occurs as soon as a user starts using our platform. As a result, an increase in users could result in our recognition of more costs than revenue in the earlier portion of the subscription term. We may not attain sufficient revenue to maintain positive cash flow from operations or achieve profitability in any given period.
Our results of operations, which are reported in U.S. dollars, could be adversely affected if currency exchange rates fluctuate substantially in the future.
We conduct our business across 180 countries around the world. As we continue to expand our international operations, we will become more exposed to the effects of fluctuations in currency exchange rates. This exposure is the result of selling in multiple currencies and operating in foreign countries where the functional currency is the local currency. In 2020, 29% of our sales were denominated in currencies other than U.S. dollars. Our expenses, by contrast, are primarily denominated in U.S. dollars. As a result, any increase in the value of the U.S. dollar against these foreign currencies, including those resulting from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, could cause our revenue to decline relative to our costs, thereby decreasing our gross margins. Our results of operations are primarily subject to fluctuations in the Euro and British pound sterling. Because we conduct business in currencies other than U.S. dollars, but report our results of operations in U.S. dollars, we also face remeasurement exposure to fluctuations in currency exchange rates, which could hinder our ability to predict our future results
and earnings and could materially impact our results of operations. We do not currently maintain a program to hedge exposures to non-U.S. dollar currencies.
Our ability to use our net operating loss carryforwards and certain other tax attributes may be limited.
As of December 31, 2020, we had $697.7 million of federal and $292.8 million of state net operating loss carryforwards available to reduce future taxable income. Of our federal net operating loss carryforwards, $71.8 million will begin to expire in 2032 and $625.9 million will carryforward indefinitely, while state net operating losses begin to expire in 2029. As of December 31, 2020, we also had $407.6 million of foreign net operating loss carryforwards available to reduce future taxable income, which will carryforward indefinitely. In addition, we had $22.9 million of foreign acquired net operating losses, which will carryforward indefinitely. We also had $0.5 million of foreign tax credit carryforwards, which will carryforward indefinitely. It is possible that we will not generate taxable income in time to use these net operating loss carryforwards before their expiration or at all. Under Sections 382 and 383 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, or the Code, if a corporation undergoes an “ownership change,” the corporation’s ability to use its pre-change net operating loss carryforwards and other pre-change attributes, such as research tax credits, to offset its post-change income may be limited. In general, an “ownership change” will occur if there is a cumulative change in our ownership by “5-percent stockholders” that exceeds 50 percentage points over a rolling three-year period. Similar rules and other limitations may apply under state tax laws. We have determined that we have experienced multiple ownership changes and, as a result, the annual utilization of our net operating loss carryforwards and other pre-change attributes will be subject to limitation. However, we do not expect that the annual limitations will significantly impact our ability to utilize our net operating loss or tax credit carryforwards prior to expiration.
Our operating results may be harmed if we are required to collect sales or other related taxes for our subscription services in jurisdictions where we have not historically done so.
We collect sales and value-added tax as part of our subscription agreements in a number of jurisdictions. One or more states or countries may seek to impose incremental or new sales, use, or other tax collection obligations on us, including for past sales by us or our resellers and other partners. A successful assertion by a state, country, or other jurisdiction that we should have been or should be collecting additional sales, use, or other taxes on our services could, among other things, result in substantial tax liabilities for past sales, create significant administrative burdens for us, discourage users from purchasing our platform, or otherwise harm our business, results of operations, and financial condition.
Our results of operations and financial condition could be materially affected by the enactment of legislation implementing changes in the U.S. or foreign taxation of international business activities or the adoption of other tax reform policies.
On December 22, 2017, the legislation commonly referred to as the 2017 Tax Reform Act was enacted, which contains significant changes to U.S. tax law, including, but not limited to, a reduction in the corporate tax rate and a transition to a new territorial system of taxation. The primary impact of the new legislation on our provision for income taxes was a reduction of the future tax benefits of our deferred tax assets as a result of the reduction in the corporate tax rate. However, since we have recorded a full valuation allowance against our deferred tax assets, these changes to U.S. tax law do not have a material impact on our provision for income taxes in our consolidated financial statements.
As part of government relief measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic, on March 27, 2020, the 2020 CARES Act was enacted in the United States, and contains several income tax provisions, including, but not limited to, changes to the rules governing net operating losses and technical corrections to certain provisions in the 2017 Tax Reform Act. However, since we have recorded a full valuation allowance against our deferred tax assets, these changes to U.S. tax law do not have a material impact on our provision for income taxes in our consolidated financial statements. In addition, although many countries in which we operate have also issued some form of COVID-19 related income tax guidance, such guidance does not have a material impact on our provision for income taxes in our consolidated financial statements as of December 31, 2020.
On June 29, 2020, California Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill No. 85 as part of the California 2020 Budget Act which temporarily suspends the use of California net operating losses and imposes a cap on the amount of business incentive tax credits companies can utilize against their net income. This guidance does not have a material impact on our provision for income taxes in our consolidated financial statements as of December 31, 2020.
On June 7, 2019, a judicial panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion in Altera Corp. v. Commissioner that would require related parties in an intercompany cost-sharing arrangement to share expenses related to stock-based compensation. On July 22, 2019, the taxpayer requested an en banc rehearing before the full Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the request was denied on November 12, 2019. On February 10, 2020, the taxpayer filed a petition for writ of certiorari to the
U.S. Supreme Court, which was denied on June 22, 2020. Accordingly, we have included stock-based compensation in our cost-sharing agreements and as a result, we recognized additional state tax expenses in some jurisdictions which do not have sufficient net operating losses to offset the state income. There was no material impact on our income tax provision for the U.S. and Ireland due to our full valuation allowance.
In 2018, the European Commission (“EC”) introduced proposals addressing taxation of digital businesses operating within the European Union (“EU”) but has not reached an agreement on a sales tax with a scope limited to digital advertising services. As a result, certain countries, including the UK Italy and France, unilaterally moved to introduce their own digital service tax. In January 2021, the EC released an Inception Impact Assessment to inform stakeholders about proposed legislative changes to the taxation of the digital economy. It is intended that the new initiative will help mitigate potential distortions and fragmentation of tax rules arising in the EU single market by designing a single set of rules which is consistent with the Digital Services Act package and the EC's digital strategy. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development Inclusive Framework, together with the EC proposals, will be factored into the final design of the new rules targeting taxation on digital transactions. Due to the increasing focus by government taxing authorities on multinational companies, the tax laws of certain countries in which we do business could change on a prospective or retroactive basis, and any such changes could increase our liabilities for taxes, interest and penalties, lead to higher effective tax rates, and harm our cash flows, results of operations and financial condition.
We have publicly disclosed market opportunity estimates, growth forecasts, and key metrics, including the key metrics included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K which could prove to be inaccurate, and any real or perceived inaccuracies may harm our reputation and negatively affect our business.
Market opportunity estimates and growth forecasts are subject to significant uncertainty and are based on assumptions and estimates that may not prove to be accurate. The estimates and forecasts we disclose relating to the size and expected growth of our target market may prove to be inaccurate. Even if the markets in which we compete meet the size estimates and growth we have forecasted, our business could fail to grow at similar rates, if at all. We also rely on assumptions and estimates to calculate certain of our key metrics, such as annual recurring revenue, paying users, average revenue per paying user and free cash flow. We regularly review and may adjust our processes for calculating our key metrics to improve their accuracy. Our key metrics may differ from estimates published by third parties or from similarly titled metrics of our competitors due to differences in methodology. We have found that aggregate user activity metrics are not leading indicators of revenue or conversion. For that reason, we do not comprehensively track user activity across the Dropbox platform for financial planning and forecasting purposes. If investors or analysts do not perceive our metrics to be accurate representations of our business, or if we discover material inaccuracies in our metrics, our reputation, business, results of operations, and financial condition would be harmed.
Risks Related to Legal and Regulatory Compliance
We are subject to a variety of U.S. and international laws that could subject us to claims, increase the cost of operations, or otherwise harm our business due to changes in the laws, changes in the interpretations of the laws, greater enforcement of the laws, or investigations into compliance with the laws.
We are subject to compliance with various laws, including those covering copyright, indecent content, child protection, consumer protection, and similar matters. There have been instances where improper or illegal content has been stored on our platform without our knowledge. As a service provider, we do not regularly monitor our platform to evaluate the legality of content stored on it. While to date we have not been subject to material legal or administrative actions as result of this content, the laws in this area are currently in a state of flux and vary widely between jurisdictions. Accordingly, it may be possible that in the future we and our competitors may be subject to legal actions, along with the users who uploaded such content. In addition, regardless of any legal liability we may face, our reputation could be harmed should there be an incident generating extensive negative publicity about the content stored on our platform. Such publicity could harm our business and results of operations.
We are also subject to consumer protection laws that may impact our sales and marketing efforts, including laws related to subscriptions, billing, and auto-renewal. These laws, as well as any changes in these laws, could adversely affect our self-serve model and make it more difficult for us to retain and upgrade paying users and attract new ones. Additionally, we have in the past, are currently, and may from time to time in the future become the subject of inquiries and other actions by regulatory authorities as a result of our business practices, including our subscription, billing, and auto-renewal policies. Consumer protection laws may be interpreted or applied by regulatory authorities in a manner that could require us to make changes to our operations or incur fines, penalties or settlement expenses, which may result in harm to our business, results of operations, and brand.
Our platform depends on the ability of our users to access the internet and our platform has been blocked or restricted in some countries for various reasons. For example, our platform is blocked in the People’s Republic of China. If we fail to anticipate developments in the law, or fail for any reason to comply with relevant law, our platform could be further blocked or restricted and we could be exposed to significant liability that could harm our business.
We are also subject to various U.S. and international anti-corruption laws, such as the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the U.K. Bribery Act, and Irish Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences) Act 2018, as well as other similar anti-bribery and anti-kickback laws and regulations. These laws and regulations generally prohibit companies and their employees and intermediaries from authorizing, offering, or providing improper payments or benefits to officials and other recipients for improper purposes. Although we take precautions to prevent violations of these laws, our exposure for violating these laws increases as we continue to expand our international presence and any failure to comply with such laws could harm our reputation and our business.
We are subject to export and import control laws and regulations that could impair our ability to compete in international markets or subject us to liability if we violate such laws and regulations.
We are subject to U.S. export controls and sanctions regulations that prohibit the shipment or provision of certain products and services to certain countries, governments, and persons targeted by U.S. sanctions. While we take precautions to prevent our products and services from being exported in violation of these laws, including implementing IP address blocking, we cannot guarantee that the precautions we take will prevent violations of export control and sanctions laws. For example, in 2011, we provided certain downloadable portions of our software to international users that, prior to export, required either a one-time product review or application for an encryption registration number in lieu of such product review. These exports were likely made in violation of U.S. export control and sanction laws. In March 2011, we filed a Final Voluntary Self Disclosure with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security, or BIS, concerning these potential violations. In June 2011, BIS notified us that it had completed its review of these matters and closed its review with the issuance of a Warning Letter. No monetary penalties were assessed against us by BIS with respect to the 2011 filing. In addition, in 2017, we discovered that our platform has been accessed by certain users in apparent violation of United States sanctions regulations. We filed an Initial Voluntary Self Disclosure in October 2017 with the Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, and a Final Voluntary Self Disclosure with OFAC in February 2018. In October 2018, OFAC notified us that it had completed its review of these matters and closed its review with the issuance of a Cautionary Letter. No monetary penalties were assessed with respect to the 2018 filing. If in the future we are found to be in violation of U.S. sanctions or export control laws, it could result in substantial fines and penalties for us and for the individuals working for us.
In addition, various countries regulate the import and export of certain encryption and other technology, including import and export permitting and licensing requirements, and have enacted laws that could limit our ability to distribute our products or could limit our users’ ability to access our platform in those countries. Changes in our platform or client-side software, or future changes in export and import regulations may prevent our users with international operations from deploying our platform globally or, in some cases, prevent the export or import of our platform to certain countries, governments, or persons altogether. Any change in export or import regulations, economic sanctions or related legislation, or change in the countries, governments, persons or technologies targeted by such regulations, could result in decreased use of our platform by, or in our decreased ability to export or sell subscriptions to our platform to, existing or potential users with international operations. Any decreased use of our platform or limitation on our ability to export or sell our products would likely adversely affect our business, results of operations, and financial results.
Our actual or perceived failure to comply with privacy, data protection, and information security laws, regulations, and obligations could harm our business.
We receive, store, process, and use personal information and other user content. There are numerous federal, state, local, and international laws and regulations regarding privacy, data protection, information security, and the storing, sharing, use, processing, transfer, disclosure, and protection of personal information and other content, the scope of which are changing, subject to differing interpretations, and may be inconsistent among countries, or conflict with other rules. We also post privacy policies and are subject to contractual obligations to third parties related to privacy, data protection, and information security. We strive to comply with applicable laws, regulations, policies, and other legal obligations relating to privacy, data protection, and information security to the extent possible. However, the regulatory framework for privacy and data protection worldwide is, and is likely to remain, uncertain for the foreseeable future, and it is possible that these or other actual or alleged obligations may be interpreted and applied in a manner that is inconsistent from one jurisdiction to another and may conflict with other rules or our practices.
We also expect that there will continue to be new laws, regulations, and industry standards concerning privacy, data protection, and information security proposed and enacted in various jurisdictions. For example, in May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, went into effect in the EU. The GDPR imposed more stringent data protection requirements and provides greater penalties for noncompliance than previous data protection laws. Further, following a referendum in June 2016 in which voters in the United Kingdom approved an exit from the EU, the United Kingdom government has initiated a process to leave the EU ("Brexit"). The United Kingdom withdrew from the EU pursuant to Brexit on January 31, 2020, subject to a transition period that ended on December 31, 2020. Brexit has created uncertainty with regard to the regulation of data protection in the United Kingdom. In particular, although the United Kingdom has enacted a Data Protection Act designed to be consistent with the GDPR, it remains unclear how data transfers to and from the United Kingdom will be regulated. Additionally, although we have self-certified under the U.S.-EU and U.S.-Swiss Privacy Shield Frameworks with regard to our transfer of certain personal data from the European Economic Area ("EEA") and Switzerland to the United States, on July 16, 2020, the Court of Justice of the European Union invalidated Decision 2016/1250 on the adequacy of the protection provided by the U.S.-EU Privacy Shield Framework, and the Swiss Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner has stated that it no longer considers the U.S.-Swiss Privacy Shield adequate for the purposes of transfers of personal data from Switzerland to the U.S. While we rely on additional legal mechanisms to transfer data from the EEA and Switzerland to the United States, there is some regulatory uncertainty surrounding the future of data transfers from these locations to the United States, and we are closely monitoring regulatory developments in this area. The California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (the "CCPA"), which affords consumers expanded privacy protections, went into effect on January 1, 2020. However, certain aspects of the CCPA and its enforcement remain uncertain. Additionally, a new privacy law, the California Privacy Rights Act ("CPRA"), which will go into effect on January 1, 2023, significantly modified the CCPA, potentially resulting in further uncertainty and requiring us to incur additional costs and expenses. The effects of the CCPA and the CPRA remain far-reaching, and depending on final regulatory guidance and other related developments, potentially may require us to modify our data processing practices and policies and to incur substantial costs and expenses in an effort to comply. Similarly, a number of legislative proposals in the European Union, the United States, at both the federal and state level, as well as other jurisdictions could impose new obligations in areas affecting our business. In addition, some countries are considering or have passed legislation implementing data protection requirements or requiring local storage and processing of data, or similar requirements, that could increase the cost and complexity of delivering our services.
With laws and regulations such as the GDPR in the EU and the California Consumer Privacy Act in the U.S. imposing new and relatively burdensome obligations, and with substantial uncertainty over the interpretation and application of these and other laws and regulations, we may face challenges in addressing their requirements and making necessary changes to our policies and practices, and may incur significant costs and expenses in an effort to do so. Any failure or perceived failure by us to comply with our privacy policies, our privacy-related obligations to users or other third parties, or any of our other legal obligations relating to privacy, data protection, or information security may result in governmental investigations or enforcement actions, litigation, claims, or public statements against us by consumer advocacy groups or others, and could result in significant liability or cause our users to lose trust in us, which could have an adverse effect on our reputation and business. Furthermore, the costs of compliance with, and other burdens imposed by, the laws, regulations, and policies that are applicable to the businesses of our users may limit the adoption and use of, and reduce the overall demand for, our services.
Additionally, if third parties we work with, such as vendors or developers, violate applicable laws or regulations or our policies, such violations may also put our users’ content at risk and could in turn have an adverse effect on our business. Any significant change to applicable laws, regulations, or industry practices regarding the collection, use, retention, security, or disclosure of our users’ content, or regarding the manner in which the express or implied consent of users for the collection, use, retention, or disclosure of such content is obtained, could increase our costs and require us to modify our services and features, possibly in a material manner, which we may be unable to complete, and may limit our ability to store and process user data or develop new services and features.
Our business could be adversely impacted by changes in internet access for our users or laws specifically governing the internet.
Our platform depends on the quality of our users’ access to the internet. Certain features of our platform require significant bandwidth and fidelity to work effectively. Internet access is frequently provided by companies that have significant market power that could take actions that degrade, disrupt or increase the cost of user access to our platform, which would negatively impact our business. We could incur greater operating expenses and our user acquisition and retention could be negatively impacted if network operators:
•implement usage-based pricing;
•discount pricing for competitive products;
•otherwise materially change their pricing rates or schemes;
•charge us to deliver our traffic at certain levels or at all;
•throttle traffic based on its source or type;
•implement bandwidth caps or other usage restrictions; or
•otherwise try to monetize or control access to their networks
On June 11, 2018, the repeal of the Federal Communications Commission’s, or FCC, “net neutrality” rules took effect and returned to a “light-touch” regulatory framework. The prior rules were designed to ensure that all online content is treated the same by internet service providers and other companies that provide broadband services. Additionally, California and a number of other states are considering or have enacted legislation or executive actions that would regulate the conduct of broadband providers. We cannot predict whether the FCC order or state initiatives will be modified, overturned, or vacated by legal action of the court, federal legislation, or the FCC. With the repeal of net neutrality rules in effect, we could incur greater operating expenses, which could harm our results of operations. As the internet continues to experience growth in the number of users, frequency of use, and amount of data transmitted, the internet infrastructure that we and our users rely on may be unable to support the demands placed upon it. The failure of the internet infrastructure that we or our users rely on, even for a short period of time, could undermine our operations and harm our results of operations.
In addition, there are various laws and regulations that could impede the growth of the internet or other online services, and new laws and regulations may be adopted in the future. These laws and regulations could, in addition to limiting internet neutrality, involve taxation, tariffs, privacy, data protection, content, copyrights, distribution, electronic contracts and other communications, consumer protection, and the characteristics and quality of services, any of which could decrease the demand for, or the usage of, our platform. Legislators and regulators may make legal and regulatory changes, or interpret and apply existing laws, in ways that require us to incur substantial costs, expose us to unanticipated civil or criminal liability, or cause us to change our business practices. These changes or increased costs could materially harm our business, results of operations, and financial condition.
We are currently, and may be in the future, party to intellectual property rights claims and other litigation matters and, if resolved adversely, they could have a significant impact on our business, results of operations, or financial condition.
We own a large number of patents, copyrights, trademarks, domain names, and trade secrets and, from time to time, are subject to litigation based on allegations of infringement, misappropriation or other violations of intellectual property, or other rights. As we face increasing competition and gain an increasingly high profile, the possibility of intellectual property rights claims, commercial claims, and other assertions against us grows. We have in the past been, are currently, and may from time to time in the future become, a party to litigation and disputes related to our intellectual property, our business practices, transactions involving our securities and our platform. For example, we were recently subject to a number of putative class action lawsuits in state and federal court alleging federal securities law violations in connection with our IPO. Although the lawsuits in both the federal and state courts have since been dismissed, we may not be successful in an appeal proceeding or in winning dismissal of an amended complaint. The costs of supporting litigation and dispute resolution proceedings are considerable, and there can be no assurances that a favorable outcome will be obtained. Our business, results of operations, and financial condition could be materially and adversely affected by such costs and any unfavorable outcomes in current or future litigation. We may need to settle litigation and disputes on terms that are unfavorable to us, or we may be subject to an unfavorable judgment that may not be reversible upon appeal. The terms of any settlement or judgment may require us to cease some or all of our operations or pay substantial amounts to the other party. With respect to any intellectual property rights claim, we may have to seek a license to continue practices found to be in violation of third-party rights, which may not be available on reasonable terms and may significantly increase our operating expenses. A license to continue such practices may not be available to us at all, and we may be required to develop alternative non-infringing technology or practices or discontinue the practices. The development of alternative, non-infringing technology or practices could require significant effort and expense.
Our failure to protect our intellectual property rights and proprietary information could diminish our brand and other intangible assets.
We rely and expect to continue to rely on a combination of patents, patent licenses, trade secrets, domain name protections, trademarks, and copyright laws, as well as confidentiality and license agreements with our employees, consultants, and third parties, to protect our intellectual property and proprietary rights. In the United States and abroad, we have over 1,200 issued patents and more than 450 pending patent applications. However, third parties may knowingly or unknowingly infringe our proprietary rights, third parties may challenge our proprietary rights, pending and future patent, trademark, and copyright applications may not be approved, and we may not be able to prevent infringement without incurring substantial expense. We have also devoted substantial resources to the development of our proprietary technologies and related processes. In order to protect our proprietary technologies and processes, we rely in part on trade secret laws and confidentiality agreements with our employees, consultants, and third parties. These agreements may not effectively prevent disclosure of confidential information and may not provide an adequate remedy in the event of unauthorized disclosure of confidential information. In addition, others may independently discover our trade secrets, in which case we would not be able to assert trade secret rights, or develop similar technologies and processes. Further, laws in certain jurisdictions may afford little or no trade secret protection, and any changes in, or unexpected interpretations of, the intellectual property laws in any country in which we operate may compromise our ability to enforce our intellectual property rights. Costly and time-consuming litigation could be necessary to enforce and determine the scope of our proprietary rights. If the protection of our proprietary rights is inadequate to prevent use or appropriation by third parties, the value of our platform, brand, and other intangible assets may be diminished and competitors may be able to more effectively replicate our platform and its features. Any of these events could materially and adversely affect our business, results of operations, and financial condition.
Risks Related to Ownership of Our Class A Common Stock
The trading price of our Class A common stock may be volatile, and you could lose all or part of your investment.
The trading price of our Class A common stock may be volatile and could be subject to fluctuations in response to various factors, some of which are beyond our control. Factors that could cause fluctuations in the trading price of our Class A common stock include the following:
•price and volume fluctuations in the overall stock market from time to time;
•volatility in the trading prices and trading volumes of technology stocks;
•changes in operating performance and stock market valuations of other technology companies generally, or those in our industry in particular;
•sales of shares of our Class A common stock by us or our stockholders;
•failure of securities analysts to maintain coverage of us, changes in financial estimates by securities analysts who follow our company, or our failure to meet these estimates or the expectations of investors;
•the financial projections we may provide to the public, any changes in those projections, or our failure to meet those projections;
•announcements by us or our competitors of new products, features, or services;
•the public’s reaction to our press releases, other public announcements, and filings with the SEC;
•rumors and market speculation involving us or other companies in our industry;
•actual or anticipated changes in our results of operations or fluctuations in our results of operations;
•actual or anticipated changes in our key metrics;
•actual or anticipated developments in our business, our competitors’ businesses or the competitive landscape generally;
•actual or perceived breaches of, or failures related to, privacy, data protection or data security;
•litigation involving us, our industry, or both, or investigations by regulators into our operations or those of our competitors;
•developments or disputes concerning our intellectual property or other proprietary rights;
•announced or completed acquisitions of businesses, products, services, or technologies by us or our competitors;
•new laws or regulations or new interpretations of existing laws or regulations applicable to our business;
•changes in accounting standards, policies, guidelines, interpretations, or principles;
•any significant change in our management; and
•general economic conditions and slow or negative growth of our markets and catastrophic events, including earthquakes, fires, floods, tsunamis, or other weather events, power loss, telecommunications failures, software or hardware malfunctions, cyber-attack, war, or terrorist attacks, and pandemics such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition, in the past, following periods of volatility in the overall market and the market price of a particular company’s securities, securities class action litigation has often been instituted against these companies. For example, we were recently subject to a number of putative class action lawsuits in state and federal court alleging federal securities law violations in connection with our IPO. Although the lawsuits in both the federal and state courts have since been dismissed, we may not be successful in an appeal proceeding or in winning dismissal of an amended complaint. This recent litigation, and any securities litigation that may be instituted against us in the future, could result in substantial costs and a diversion of our management’s attention and resources.
The multi-class structure of our common stock has the effect of concentrating voting control with those stockholders who held our capital stock prior to the completion of our IPO, and it may depress the trading price of our Class A common stock.
Our Class A common stock has one vote per share, our Class B common stock has ten votes per share, and our Class C common stock has no voting rights, except as otherwise required by law. As of December 31, 2020, our directors, executive officers and holders of more than 5% of our common stock, and their respective affiliates, held in the aggregate 74.3% of the voting power of our capital stock, with Mr. Houston holding approximately 70.6% of the voting power of our capital stock. We are including Mr. Houston's Co-Founder Grant in this calculation since the shares underlying such grant are legally issued and outstanding shares of our Class A common stock and Mr. Houston is able to vote these shares prior to their vesting. Because of the ten-to-one voting ratio between our Class B and Class A common stock, the holders of our Class B common stock collectively will continue to control a majority of the combined voting power of our common stock and therefore be able to control all matters submitted to our stockholders for approval so long as the shares of Class B common stock represent at least 9.1% of all outstanding shares of our Class A and Class B common stock. This concentrated control will limit or preclude other stockholders' ability to influence corporate matters for the foreseeable future, including the election of directors, amendments of our organizational documents and any merger, consolidation, sale of all or substantially all of our assets, or other major corporate transaction requiring stockholder approval. In addition, this may prevent or discourage unsolicited acquisition proposals or offers for our capital stock that other stockholders may feel are in their best interests as one of our stockholders.
Future transfers or sales by holders of Class B common stock will generally result in those shares converting to Class A common stock, except for certain transfers described in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation, including transfers effected for estate planning purposes where sole dispositive power and exclusive voting control with respect to the shares of Class B common stock is retained by the transferring holder and transfers between our co-founders. In addition, each outstanding share of Class B common stock held by a stockholder who is a natural person, or held by the permitted entities or permitted transferees of such stockholder (as described in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation), will convert automatically into one share of Class A common stock upon the death of such natural person. In the event of Mr. Houston's death or permanent and total disability, shares of Class B common stock held by Mr. Houston, his permitted entities or permitted transferees will convert to Class A common stock, provided that the conversion will be deferred for nine months, or up to 18 months if approved by a majority of our independent directors, following his death or permanent and total disability. Transfers between our co-founders are permitted transfers and will not result in conversion of the shares of Class B common stock that are transferred; however, upon the death or total and permanent disability of the transferring co-founder, the transferred shares would convert to Class A common stock following the deferral period of nine months, or up to 18 months if approved by a majority of our independent directors. The conversion of Class B common stock to Class A common stock will have the effect, over time, of increasing the relative voting power of those individual holders of Class B common stock who retain their shares in the long term.
In addition, because our Class C common stock carries no voting rights (except as otherwise required by law), if we issue Class C common stock in the future, the holders of Class B common stock may be able to elect all of our directors and to determine the outcome of most matters submitted to a vote of our stockholders for a longer period of time than would be the case if we issued Class A common stock rather than Class C common stock in such transactions.
Additionally, in July 2017, FTSE Russell and Standard & Poor’s announced that they would cease to allow most newly public companies utilizing dual or multi-class capital structures to be included in their indices. Affected indices include the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500, S&P MidCap 400, and S&P SmallCap 600, which together make up the S&P Composite 1500. Although we have since met the requirements to be included, and are now included, in an FTSE Russell index, our multi-class capital structure still makes us ineligible for inclusion in any of the above listed S&P indices, and as a result, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, and other investment vehicles that attempt to passively track these S&P indices will not be investing in our stock. It is as of yet unclear what effect, if any, these policies will have on the valuations of publicly traded companies excluded from one or more of these indices, but it is possible that they may depress these valuations compared to those of other similar companies that are included.
Substantial future sales could depress the market price of our Class A common stock.
The market price of our Class A common stock could decline as a result of a large number of sales of shares of such stock, and the perception that these sales could occur may also depress the market price of our Class A common stock.
In addition, we have filed registration statements to register shares reserved for future issuance under our equity compensation plans. As a result, subject to the satisfaction of applicable exercise periods, the shares issued upon exercise of outstanding stock options or upon settlement of outstanding RSU awards are available for immediate resale in the United States in the open market.
Sales of our shares may make it more difficult for us to sell equity securities in the future at a time and at a price that we deem appropriate. These sales also could cause the trading price of our Class A common stock to fall and make it more difficult for you to sell shares of our Class A common stock.
Delaware law and provisions in our restated certificate of incorporation and restated bylaws could make a merger, tender offer, or proxy contest difficult, thereby depressing the market price of our Class A common stock.
Our status as a Delaware corporation and the anti-takeover provisions of the Delaware General Corporation Law may discourage, delay, or prevent a change in control by prohibiting us from engaging in a business combination with an interested stockholder for a period of three years after the person becomes an interested stockholder, even if a change of control would be beneficial to our existing stockholders. In addition, our restated certificate of incorporation and restated bylaws contain provisions that may make the acquisition of our company more difficult, including the following:
•any transaction that would result in a change in control of our company requires the approval of a majority of our outstanding Class B common stock voting as a separate class;
•our multi-class common stock structure, which provides our holders of Class B common stock with the ability to significantly influence the outcome of matters requiring stockholder approval, even if they own significantly less than a majority of the shares of our outstanding Class A common stock, Class B common stock, and Class C common stock;
•when the outstanding shares of Class B common stock represent less than a majority of the total combined voting power of our Class A and Class B common stock, or the Voting Threshold Date, our Board of Directors will be classified into three classes of directors with staggered three-year terms, and directors will only be able to be removed from office for cause;
•until the Class B common stock, as a class, converts to Class A common stock, any amendments to our restated certificate of incorporation will require the approval of two-thirds of the combined vote of our then-outstanding shares of Class A common stock and Class B common stock; and following the conversion of our Class B common stock, as a class, to Class A common stock, certain amendments to our amended and restated certificate of incorporation will require the approval of two-thirds of our then outstanding voting power;
•our amended and restated bylaws will provide that approval of stockholders holding two-thirds of our outstanding voting power voting as a single class is required for stockholders to amend or adopt any provision of our bylaws;
•after the Voting Threshold Date our stockholders will only be able to take action at a meeting of stockholders, and will not be able to take action by written consent for any matter;
•until the Voting Threshold Date, our stockholders will be able to act by written consent only if the action is first recommended or approved by the Board of Directors;
•vacancies on our Board of Directors will be able to be filled only by our Board of Directors and not by stockholders;
•only the chairman of our Board of Directors, our chief executive officer, a majority of our Board of Directors or until the Class B common stock, as a class, converts to Class A common stock, a stockholder holding thirty percent of the combined voting power of our Class A and Class B common stock are authorized to call a special meeting of stockholders;
•certain litigation against us may be required to be brought in Delaware;
•our restated certificate of incorporation authorizes undesignated preferred stock, the terms of which may be established and shares of which may be issued, without the approval of the holders of Class A common stock; and
•advance notice procedures apply for stockholders to nominate candidates for election as directors or to bring matters before an annual meeting of stockholders.
These anti-takeover defenses could discourage, delay, or prevent a transaction involving a change in control of our company. These provisions could also discourage proxy contests and make it more difficult for stockholders to elect directors of their choosing and to cause us to take other corporate actions they desire, any of which, under certain circumstances, could limit the opportunity for our stockholders to receive a premium for their shares of our capital stock, and could also affect the price that some investors are willing to pay for our Class A common stock.
Our amended and restated bylaws designate a state or federal court located within the State of Delaware as the exclusive forum for substantially all disputes between us and our stockholders, and also provide that the federal district courts will be the exclusive forum for resolving any complaint asserting a cause of action arising under the Securities Act, each of which could limit our stockholders’ ability to choose the judicial forum for disputes with us or our directors, officers, or employees.
Our amended and restated bylaws provide that, unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternative forum, the sole and exclusive forum for (1) any derivative action or proceeding brought on our behalf, (2) any action asserting a claim of breach of a fiduciary duty owed by any of our directors, officers, or other employees to us or our stockholders, (3) any action arising pursuant to any provision of the Delaware General Corporation Law, or the certificate of incorporation or the amended and restated bylaws or (4) any other action asserting a claim that is governed by the internal affairs doctrine shall be the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware (or, if the Court of Chancery does not have jurisdiction, the federal district court for the District of Delaware), in all cases subject to the court having jurisdiction over indispensable parties named as defendants.
Our amended and restated bylaws also provide that the federal district courts of the United States of America will be the exclusive forum for resolving any complaint asserting a cause of action arising under the Securities Act, or a Federal Forum Provision.
Any person or entity purchasing or otherwise acquiring any interest in any of our securities shall be deemed to have notice of and consented to this provision. These exclusive-forum provisions may limit a stockholder’s ability to bring a claim in a judicial forum of its choosing for disputes with us or our directors, officers, or other employees, which may discourage lawsuits against us and our directors, officers, and other employees.
If we face relevant litigation and are unable to enforce these provisions, we may incur additional costs associated with resolving the dispute in other jurisdictions, which could harm our results of operations.
We cannot guarantee that our stock repurchase program will be fully implemented or that it will enhance long-term stockholder value
In February 2020, our Board of Directors approved a stock repurchase program for the repurchase of up to $600 million of the outstanding shares of our Class A common stock and in February 2021 our Board of Directors authorized the repurchase of up to an additional $1 billion of the outstanding shares of our Class A common stock. The repurchase program does not have an expiration date and we are not obligated to repurchase a specified number or dollar value of shares. Share repurchases will be made from time to time in private transactions or open market purchases, as permitted by securities laws and other legal requirements. Although we have announced an intention to increase the pace of our share repurchases, any share repurchases remain subject to the circumstances in place at that time, including prevailing market prices. As a result, there can be no guarantee around the timing of our share repurchases, or that the volume of such repurchases will increase. The stock repurchase program could affect the price of our Class A common stock, increase volatility and diminish our cash reserves. Our repurchase program may be suspended or terminated at any time and, even if fully implemented, may not enhance long-term stockholder value.
We do not intend to pay dividends for the foreseeable future.
We have never declared nor paid cash dividends on our capital stock. We currently intend to retain any future earnings to finance the operation and expansion of our business and fund our stock repurchase program, and we do not expect to declare or pay any dividends in the foreseeable future. As a result, stockholders must rely on sales of their Class A common stock after price appreciation as the only way to realize any future gains on their investment. In addition, our revolving credit facility contains restrictions on our ability to pay dividends.
General Risk Factors
Our business could be disrupted by catastrophic events.
Occurrence of any catastrophic event, including earthquake, fire, flood, tsunami, or other weather event, power loss, telecommunications failure, software or hardware malfunctions, cyber-attack, war, or terrorist attack, could result in lengthy interruptions in our service. Further, outbreaks of pandemic diseases, such as COVID-19, or the fear of such events, have resulted in responses, including government-imposed travel restrictions, grounding of flights, and shutdown of workplaces. As a result, we are conducting business with substantial modifications, including modifications to employee travel and employee work locations. These modifications may disrupt important business operations, such as our product development and sales and marketing activities, and the productivity of our employees.
Additionally, our U.S. headquarters and some of the datacenters we utilize are located in the San Francisco Bay Area, a region known for seismic activity, and our insurance coverage may not compensate us for losses that may occur in the event of an earthquake or other significant natural disaster. In addition, acts of terrorism could cause disruptions to the internet or the economy as a whole. Even with our disaster recovery arrangements, our service could be interrupted. If our systems were to fail or be negatively impacted as a result of a natural disaster or other event, our ability to deliver products to our users would be impaired or we could lose critical data. If we are unable to develop adequate plans to ensure that our business functions continue to operate during and after a disaster, and successfully execute on those plans in the event of a disaster or emergency, our business, results of operations, financial condition, and reputation would be harmed.
We may have exposure to greater than anticipated tax liabilities, which could adversely impact our results of operations.
While to date we have not incurred significant income taxes in operating our business, we are subject to income taxes in the United States and various jurisdictions outside of the United States. Our effective tax rate could fluctuate due to changes in the mix of earnings and losses in countries with differing statutory tax rates. Our tax expense could also be impacted by changes in non-deductible expenses, changes in excess tax benefits of stock-based compensation, changes in the valuation of deferred tax assets and liabilities and our ability to utilize them, the applicability of withholding taxes and effects from acquisitions.
Our tax provision could also be impacted by changes in accounting principles, changes in U.S. federal, state, or international tax laws applicable to corporate multinationals such as the recent legislation enacted in the United States, other fundamental law changes currently being considered by many countries, and changes in taxing jurisdictions’ administrative interpretations, decisions, policies, and positions. Additionally, the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development
has released guidance covering various topics, including digital economy, transfer pricing, country-by-country reporting, and definitional changes to permanent establishment that could ultimately impact our tax liabilities.
We are subject to review and audit by U.S. federal, state, local, and foreign tax authorities. Such tax authorities may disagree with tax positions we take and if any such tax authority were to successfully challenge any such position, our financial results and operations could be materially and adversely affected. We may also be subject to additional tax liabilities due to changes in non-income based taxes resulting from changes in federal, state, or international tax laws, changes in taxing jurisdictions’ administrative interpretations, decisions, policies, and positions, results of tax examinations, settlements or judicial decisions, changes in accounting principles, changes to the business operations, including acquisitions, as well as the evaluation of new information that results in a change to a tax position taken in a prior period.
If we fail to maintain an effective system of disclosure controls and internal control over financial reporting, our ability to produce timely and accurate financial statements or comply with applicable regulations could be impaired.
We are subject to the reporting requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, or the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and the rules and regulations of the applicable listing standards of the Nasdaq Global Select Market, or Nasdaq. We expect that the requirements of these rules and regulations will continue to increase our legal, accounting, and financial compliance costs, make some activities more difficult, time-consuming and costly, and place significant strain on our personnel, systems, and resources.
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act requires, among other things, that we maintain effective disclosure controls and procedures and internal control over financial reporting. We are also required to provide an annual management report on the effectiveness of our disclosure controls and procedures over financial reporting. We are continuing to develop and refine our disclosure controls and other procedures that are designed to ensure that information required to be disclosed by us in the reports that we will file with the SEC is recorded, processed, summarized, and reported within the time periods specified in SEC rules and forms and that information required to be disclosed in reports under the Exchange Act is accumulated and communicated to our principal executive and financial officers. We are also continuing to improve our internal control over financial reporting. In order to maintain and improve the effectiveness of our disclosure controls and procedures and internal control over financial reporting, we have expended, and anticipate that we will continue to expend, significant resources, including accounting-related costs and significant management oversight. In addition, our independent registered public accounting firm is required to audit the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting pursuant to Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act annually. Testing, or the subsequent testing by our independent registered public accounting firm, may reveal material weaknesses or significant deficiencies. If material weaknesses are identified or we are not able to comply with the requirements of Section 404 in a timely manner, our reported financial results could be materially misstated, we could receive an adverse opinion regarding our internal control over financial reporting from our independent registered public accounting firm, we could be subject to investigations or sanctions by regulatory authorities and we could incur substantial expenses.
Our current controls and any new controls that we develop may become inadequate because of changes in conditions in our business. Additionally, to the extent we acquire other businesses, the acquired company may not have a sufficiently robust system of internal controls and we may uncover new deficiencies. Weaknesses in our disclosure controls and internal control over financial reporting may be discovered in the future. Any failure to develop or maintain effective controls or any difficulties encountered in their implementation or improvement that could harm our results of operations or cause us to fail to meet our reporting obligations and may result in a restatement of our financial statements for prior periods. Any failure to implement and maintain effective internal control over financial reporting also could adversely affect the results of periodic management evaluations and annual independent registered public accounting firm attestation reports regarding the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting that are required to be included in our periodic reports that will be filed with the SEC. Ineffective disclosure controls and procedures and internal control over financial reporting could also cause investors to lose confidence in our reported financial and other information, which would likely have a negative effect on the trading price of our Class A common stock. In addition, if we are unable to continue to meet these requirements, we may not be able to remain listed on Nasdaq.
Our reported results of operations may be adversely affected by changes in accounting principles generally accepted in the United States.
Generally accepted accounting principles in the United States are subject to interpretation by the Financial Accounting Standards Board, or FASB, the SEC, and various bodies formed to promulgate and interpret appropriate accounting principles. A change in these principles or interpretations could have a significant effect on our reported results of operations, and may even affect the reporting of transactions completed before the announcement or effectiveness of a change. It is difficult to
predict the impact of future changes to accounting principles or our accounting policies, any of which could negatively affect our results of operations.
We may need additional capital, and we cannot be certain that additional financing will be available on favorable terms, or at all.
Historically, we have funded our operations and capital expenditures primarily through equity issuances, cash generated from our operations, and debt financing for capital purchases. Although we currently anticipate that our existing cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments, amounts available under our existing credit facilities, and cash flow from operations will be sufficient to meet our cash needs for the foreseeable future, we may require additional financing. We evaluate financing opportunities from time to time, and our ability to obtain financing will depend, among other things, on our development efforts, business plans, operating performance, and condition of the capital markets at the time we seek financing. We cannot assure you that additional financing will be available to us on favorable terms when required, or at all. If we raise additional funds through the issuance of equity or equity-linked or debt securities, those securities may have rights, preferences or privileges senior to the rights of our Class A common stock, and our stockholders may experience dilution.
Our Class A common stock market price and trading volume could decline if securities or industry analysts do not publish research or publish inaccurate or unfavorable research about our business.
The trading market for our Class A common stock will depend in part on the research and reports that securities or industry analysts publish about us or our business. The analysts’ estimates are based upon their own opinions and are often different from our estimates or expectations. If one or more of the analysts who cover us downgrade our Class A common stock or publish inaccurate or unfavorable research about our business, the price of our securities would likely decline. If few securities analysts commence coverage of us, or if one or more of these analysts cease coverage of us or fail to publish reports on us regularly, demand for our securities could decrease, which might cause the price and trading volume of our Class A common stock to decline.
ITEM 1B. UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS
ITEM 2. PROPERTIES
Our corporate headquarters is located in San Francisco, California, pursuant to operating leases that expire in 2033. We lease additional offices in San Francisco and around the world, including in Austin, Texas; Mountain View, California; Seattle, Washington; Dublin, Ireland; and Sydney, Australia. We have datacenter co-location facilities in California, Oregon, Texas, and Virginia. We believe that these facilities are generally suitable to meet our needs.
ITEM 3. LEGAL PROCEEDINGS
We are currently involved in, and may in the future be involved in, legal proceedings, claims, and government investigations in the ordinary course of business, including legal proceedings with third parties asserting infringement of their intellectual property rights. We do not believe that any current pending matter is likely to have a material adverse impact on our consolidated results of operations, cash flows, or our financial position. However, any litigation is inherently uncertain, and any judgment or injunctive relief entered against us or any adverse settlement could materially and adversely impact our business, results of operations, financial condition, and prospects.
For example, in April 2015, Synchronoss Technologies, Inc., ("Synchronoss"), a public company that provides cloud-based products, filed a patent infringement lawsuit against us in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, claiming three counts of patent infringement and seeking injunctive relief. The case was subsequently transferred to the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, and at summary judgment, the court resolved all claims in our favor. Synchronoss appealed this order. On February 12, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the judgment in our favor.
In addition, four putative class action lawsuits alleging violations of the federal securities laws were filed on August 30, 2019, September 5, 2019, September 13, 2019, and October 3, 2019, in the Superior Court of the State of California, San Mateo County, against us, certain of our officers and directors, underwriters of our IPO, and Sequoia Capital XII, L.P. and certain of its affiliated entities (collectively, the “Dropbox Defendants”). On October 4, 2019, two putative class action lawsuits alleging violations of the federal securities laws were filed against the Dropbox Defendants in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ("Federal Plaintiffs"). The six lawsuits each made the same or similar allegations of violations of federal securities laws, for allegedly making materially false and misleading statements in, or omitting material information from, our IPO registration statement. The plaintiffs sought unspecified monetary damages and other relief.
On March 2, 2020, the Federal Plaintiffs filed a consolidated class action complaint. On April 16, 2020, the Dropbox Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the federal consolidated class action complaint. On October 21, 2020, the federal court issued an order granting our motion to dismiss the Federal Plaintiffs’ complaint with leave to amend setting a deadline of January 6, 2021 for the Federal Plaintiffs to file any amended complaint. The federal court extended this deadline to February 22, 2021 to provide time for the parties to explore resolving the case. On February 11, 2021, the parties attended mediation and reached a settlement in principle for an immaterial amount subject to final documentation and preliminary and final approval by the court.
On May 11, 2020, the Dropbox Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the consolidated state court case based on the exclusive federal forum provisions contained in our amended and restated bylaws. On December 4, 2020, the state court issued an order granting our motion to dismiss the consolidated state court case. On December 15, 2020, the State Plaintiffs filed a notice of appeal of this order. We believe the appeal and claims are without merit and we intend to vigorously defend against them.
Future litigation may be necessary, among other things, to defend ourselves or our users by determining the scope, enforceability, and validity of third-party proprietary rights or to establish our proprietary rights. The results of any current or future litigation cannot be predicted with certainty, and regardless of the outcome, litigation can have an adverse impact on us because of defense and settlement costs, diversion of management resources, and other factors.
ITEM 4. MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES
ITEM 5. MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES
Market Information for Class A Common Stock
Our Class A common stock is listed on the Nasdaq Global Market under the symbol "DBX" since March 23, 2018.
Holders of Record
As of February 16, 2021, we had 521 holders of record of our Class A and Class B common stock, respectively, and no holders of our Class C common stock. The actual number of stockholders is greater than this number of record holders and includes stockholders who are beneficial owners, but whose shares are held in street name by brokers and other nominees.
We have never declared or paid any cash dividends on our capital stock. We currently intend to retain any future earnings and do not expect to pay any dividends in the foreseeable future. Any future determination to declare cash dividends will be made at the discretion of our Board of Directors, subject to applicable laws, and will depend on a number of factors, including our financial condition, results of operations, capital requirements, contractual restrictions, general business conditions, and other factors that our Board of Directors may deem relevant. In addition, the terms of our revolving credit facility place certain limitations on the amount of cash dividends we can pay, even if no amounts are currently outstanding.
Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
The following table presents information with respect to Dropbox's repurchases of Class A common stock during the quarter ended December 31, 2020.
Total Number of Shares Purchased (in millions)(1)
Average Price Paid per Share(2)
Total Number of Shares Purchased as Part of Publicly Announced Programs
Approximate Dollar Value of Shares that May Yet Be Purchased Under Publicly Announced Programs
|October 1 - 31||0.66||$||19.59 ||0.66 ||$||409.70 |
|November 1 - 30|
|$||18.78 ||5.61 ||$||304.38 |
|December 1 - 31||4.72||$||21.62 ||4.72 ||$||202.38 |
|Total||11.25 ||$||20.02 ||10.99 |
(1) On February 20, 2020, we announced that our Board of Directors approved a stock repurchase program for the repurchase of up to $600 million of the Company's outstanding shares of Class A common stock. On February 18, 2021, we announced that our Board of Directors authorized the repurchase of an additional $1 billion of the outstanding shares of our Class A common stock. Under this program, shares may be repurchased, subject to general business and market conditions and other investment opportunities, through open market purchases or privately held negotiated transactions, including through Rule 10b5-1 plans, in each case as permitted by securities laws and other legal requirements. The repurchase program does not have an expiration date. See Note 12 "Stockholders' Equity" of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements included in Part II, Item 8 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K for additional information related to share repurchases.
(2) Average price paid per share includes costs associated with the repurchases.
(3) Includes 261,143 shares of restricted common stock delivered by certain employees upon vesting of restricted stock awards to satisfy tax withholding requirements.
Stock Performance Graph
This performance graph shall not be deemed “soliciting material” or to be “filed” with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or the SEC, for purposes of Section 18 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act,
or otherwise subject to the liabilities under that Section, and shall not be deemed to be incorporated by reference into any of our filings under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Securities Act.
The following graph compares (i) the cumulative total stockholder return on our Class A common stock from March 23, 2018 (the date our Class A common stock commenced trading on the NASDAQ Global Select Market) through December 31, 2020 with (ii) the cumulative total return of the Standard & Poor's 500 Index and the NASDAQ Computer Index over the same period, assuming the investment of $100 in our common stock and in both of the other indices on March 23, 2018 and the reinvestment of dividends. The graph uses the closing market price on March 23, 2018 of $28.48 per share as the initial value of our common stock. As discussed above, we have never declared or paid a cash dividend on our common stock and do not anticipate declaring or paying a cash dividend in the foreseeable future.
*Returns are based on historical results and are not necessarily indicative of future performance. See the disclosure in Part I, Item 1A, “Risk Factors.”
Unregistered Sales of Equity Securities
ITEM 6. SELECTED CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL AND OTHER DATA
The following selected consolidated financial data should be read in conjunction with “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and the consolidated financial statements and related notes thereto included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The consolidated statements of operations data for each of the years ended December 31, 2020, 2019, and 2018 and the consolidated balance sheet data as of December 31, 2020, and 2019, are derived from our audited consolidated financial statements that are included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The consolidated statements of operations data for the year ended December 31, 2018 and the consolidated balance sheet data as of December 31, 2018 are derived from our audited consolidated financial statements, except as otherwise noted, that are not included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Our historical results are not necessarily indicative of our future results. The selected consolidated financial data in this section are not intended to replace the consolidated financial statements and related
notes thereto included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K and are qualified in their entirety by the consolidated financial statements and related notes thereto included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Consolidated Statements of Operations Data
| ||Year ended December 31,|
|(In millions except for per share amounts) |
|Revenue||$||1,913.9 ||$||1,661.3 ||$||1,391.7 |
Cost of revenue(1)
|414.6 ||411.0 ||394.7 |
|Gross profit||1,499.3 ||1,250.3 ||997.0 |
|Research and development||727.5 ||662.1 ||768.2 |
|Sales and marketing||422.8 ||423.3 ||439.6 |
|General and administrative||227.8 ||245.4 ||283.2 |
Impairment related to real estate assets(2)
|398.2 ||— ||— |
|Total operating expenses||1,776.3 ||1,330.8 ||1,491.0 |
|Loss from operations||(277.0)||(80.5)||(494.0)|
|Interest income, net||1.7 ||12.5 ||7.1 |
|Other income, net||25.1 ||16.0 ||6.8 |
|Loss before income taxes||(250.2)||(52.0)||(480.1)|
|Benefit from (provision for) income taxes||(6.1)||(0.7)||(4.8)|
|Net loss per share attributable to common stockholders, basic and diluted ||$||(0.62)||$||(0.13)||$||(1.35)|
|Weighted-average shares used in computing net loss per share attributable to common stockholders, basic and diluted||414.3 ||411.6 ||358.6 |
(1) Includes stock-based compensation as follows:
| ||Year ended December 31,|
|Cost of revenue||$||17.1 ||$||15.8 ||$||47.0 |
|Research and development||174.1 ||147.6 ||368.2 |
|Sales and marketing||33.7 ||31.4 ||94.3 |
General and administrative(3)(4)
|36.6 ||66.4 ||140.6 |
(2)Includes impairment charges related to certain right-of-use and other lease related assets as a result of our decision to shift to a Virtual First work model. See Note 9 "Leases" of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements for further information.
(3)On March 19, 2020, one of the Company's co-founders resigned as a member of the board and as an officer of the Company, resulting in the reversal of $23.8 million in stock-based compensation expense. Of the total amount reversed, $21.5 million related to expense recognized prior to December 31, 2019. See Note 12 "Stockholders' Equity" of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements for further information.
(4)During the year ended December 31, 2018, the Company recognized the cumulative unrecognized stock-based compensation of $418.7 million related to the two-tier restricted stock units upon the effectiveness of the Company's registration statement for its initial public offering. See Note 1 "Description of the Business and Summary of Significant Accounting Policies" of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements for further details.
Consolidated Balance Sheet Data
| ||As of December 31,|
| ||(In millions)|
|Cash, cash equivalents, and short-term investments||$||1,121.3 ||$||1,159.0 ||$||1,089.3 |
|Working capital||139.7 ||228.4 ||372.7 |
|Property and equipment, net||338.7 ||445.3 ||310.6 |
|Total assets||2,387.2 ||2,699.2 ||1,694.1 |
|Deferred revenue, current and non-current||614.2 ||559.1 ||485.6 |
Operating lease liability, current and non current(1)
|848.3 ||791.8 ||— |
|Finance lease liability, current and non current||271.2 ||214.9 ||163.7 |
|Total stockholders’ equity||333.8 ||808.4 ||676.8 |
(1) Includes the impact of the Company's adoption of ASU No. 2016-02, Leases (Topic 842) on January 1, 2019.
ITEM 7. MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
The following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations should be read in conjunction with the section titled “Selected Consolidated Financial and Other Data” and the consolidated financial statements and related notes thereto included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. This discussion contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Our actual results could differ materially from those discussed below. Factors that could cause or contribute to such differences include, but are not limited to, those identified below and those discussed in the section titled “Risk Factors” included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. For a comparison of our results of operations for the fiscal years ended December 31, 2019 and 2018 see Item 7, Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations, of our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019, filed with the SEC on February 21, 2020.
Our modern economy runs on knowledge. Today, knowledge lives in the cloud as digital content, and Dropbox is where businesses and individuals can create, access, and share this content globally. We serve more than 700 million registered users across 180 countries.
Since our founding in 2007, our market opportunity has grown as we’ve expanded from keeping files in sync to keeping teams in sync. In a world where using technology at work can be fragmented and distracting, Dropbox makes it easy to focus on the work that matters.
By solving these universal problems, we’ve become invaluable to our users. The popularity of our platform drives viral growth, which has allowed us to scale rapidly and efficiently. We’ve built a thriving global business with 15.48 million paying users.
Our Subscription Plans
We generate revenue from individuals, families, teams, and organizations by selling subscriptions to our platform, which serve the varying needs of our diverse customer base. Subscribers can purchase individual licenses through our Plus and Professional plans, or purchase multiple licenses through our Family plan or our Standard, Advanced, and Enterprise team plans. Each team or family represents a separately billed deployment that is managed through a single administrative dashboard. Teams must have a minimum of three users, but can also have more than tens of thousands of users. Families can have up to six users. Customers can choose between an annual or monthly plan, with a small number of large organizations on multi-year plans. A majority of our customers opt for our annual plans, although we have seen and may continue to see an increase in customers opting for our monthly plans. We typically bill our customers at the beginning of their respective terms and recognize revenue ratably over the term of the subscription period. International customers can pay in U.S. dollars or a select number of foreign currencies.
Our premium subscription plans, such as Professional and Advanced, provide more functionality than other subscription plans and have higher per user prices. Our Standard and Advanced subscription plans offer robust capabilities for businesses, and the vast majority of Dropbox Business teams purchase our Standard or Advanced subscription plans. While our Enterprise subscription plan offers more opportunities for customization, companies can subscribe to any of these team plans for their business needs.
In 2019, we acquired HelloSign, an e-signature and document workflow platform. The acquisition of HelloSign expanded our content collaboration capabilities to include additional business-critical workflows. HelloSign has several product lines, and the pricing and revenue generated from each product line varies, with some product lines priced based on the number of licenses purchased (similar to Dropbox plans), while others are priced based on a customer's transaction volume. Depending on the product purchased, teams must have a minimum of a certain number of licenses, but can also have hundreds of users. Customers can choose between an annual or monthly plan, with a small number of large organizations on multi-year plans. We typically bill HelloSign customers at the beginning of their respective terms and recognizes revenue ratably over the subscription period. We sell HelloSign products globally and sell primarily in U.S. dollars.
Our customer base is highly diversified, and in the period presented, no customer accounted for more than 1% of our revenue. Our customers include individuals, families, teams, and organizations of all sizes, from freelancers and small businesses to Fortune 100 companies. They work across a wide range of industries, including professional services, technology, media, education, industrials, consumer and retail, and financial services. Within companies, our platform is used by all types of teams and functions, including sales, marketing, product, design, engineering, finance, legal, and human resources.
Our Business Model
Drive new signups
We acquire users efficiently and at relatively low costs through word-of-mouth referrals, direct in-product referrals, and sharing of content. Anyone can create a Dropbox account for free through our website or app and be up and running in minutes. These users often share and collaborate with other non-registered users, attracting new signups into our network.
Increase conversion of registered users to our paid subscription plans
We generate over 90% of our revenue from self-serve channels—users who purchase a subscription through our app or website. To grow our recurring revenue base, we actively encourage our registered users to convert to one of our paid plans based on the functionality that best suits their needs. We do this via in-product prompts and notifications, time-limited free trials of paid subscription plans, email campaigns, and lifecycle marketing. Together, these enable us to generate increased recurring revenues from our existing user base.
Upgrade and expand existing customers
We offer a range of paid subscription plans, from Plus, Professional, and Family for individuals, to Standard, Advanced, and Enterprise for teams. We analyze usage patterns within our network and run hundreds of targeted marketing campaigns to encourage paying users to upgrade their plans. We prompt individual subscribers who collaborate with others on Dropbox to purchase our Standard or Advanced plans for a better team experience, and we also encourage existing Dropbox Business teams to purchase additional licenses or to upgrade to premium subscription plans.
Although we have seen and may continue to see an impact to our financial condition or results of operations, as described below, the full extent of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our operational and financial performance will depend on certain developments, including the duration and spread of the outbreak, the pace of reopening, impact on our customers and our sales cycles, impact on our business operations, impact on our customer, employee or industry events, and effect on our vendors, all of which are uncertain and cannot be predicted. The extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic may impact our business, financial condition or results of operations is uncertain, but may include, without limitation, impacts to our current and prospective users' ability to purchase or renew paid licenses for access to our platform, impacts to our paying user growth as well as disruptions to our business operations as a result of travel restrictions, shutdown of workplaces and potential impacts to our vendors.
Additionally, our results of operations and cash flows are subject to fluctuations due to changes in foreign currency exchange rates relative to U.S. dollars, our reporting currency, as well as changes in interest rates. Volatile market conditions arising from the COVID-19 pandemic have and may continue to negatively impact our results of operations and cash flows, due to (i) a weakening of foreign currencies relative to the U.S. dollar, which have and may in the future cause our revenues to decline relative to our costs, and (ii) government-initiated reductions in interest rates, which may reduce our interest income. In certain cases, we have provided relief to our customers in the form of extending net payment terms and changing invoice frequency, which may negatively impact our accounts receivable. Conversely, we have seen and may continue to see cost savings from the shift to remote work for all of our employees in areas including events, travel, utilities, and other benefits. Due to our subscription based business model, the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic may not be fully reflected in our results of operations until future periods, if at all.
Furthermore, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have led us to reimagine the way we work, resulting in our announcement in October 2020 to shift to a new Virtual First work model pursuant to which remote work will become the primary experience for all of our employees. As a result, we intend for our workforce to become more distributed over time, although we will continue to offer our employees opportunities for in-person collaboration in all locations we currently have offices, either through our existing real-estate, or new on-demand, flexible spaces, which will be known as "Dropbox Studios". Consistent with this strategy, we will retain a portion of our office space and a portion will be marketed for sublease. We engaged a third party to estimate the fair value of the office space to be subleased based on current market conditions. Where the carrying value of the individual asset groups exceeded the fair value, an impairment charge was recognized for the difference. We recorded a corresponding impairment charge of $398.2 million in the period ended December 31, 2020. See Note 9 "Leases" for additional information. We continue to expect to incur additional charges related to certain European leases
over the next twelve months, which could range between $0 and $50 million depending on the then current market and economic conditions.
While we seek to manage the implementation of this new work model carefully and we believe this model will help us reap the benefits of remote work, while maintaining a meaningful in-person experience, there is no guarantee that we will realize any anticipated benefits to our business, including any cost savings, operational efficiencies, increased employee satisfaction or increased productivity. In addition, given that we have a limited history of operating with a Virtual First workforce, the long-term impact on our financial results and business operations is uncertain. Please see Item 1A. “Risk Factors” in this Annual Report on Form 10-K for a complete description of the material risks we currently face, including risks related to the COVID-19 pandemic and our shift to a Virtual First work model.
Reduction in Force
On January 13, 2021, we announced a reduction of our global workforce by approximately 11% to streamline our team structure in support of our business priorities.
Key Business Metrics
We review a number of operating and financial metrics, including the following key metrics to evaluate our business, measure our performance, identify trends affecting our business, formulate business plans, and make strategic decisions.
Total annual recurring revenue
We primarily focus on total annual recurring revenue (“Total ARR”) as the key indicator of the trajectory of our business performance. Total ARR represents the amount of revenue that we expect to recur annually, enables measurement of the progress of our business initiatives, and serves as an indicator of future growth. In addition, Total ARR is less subject to variations in short-term trends that may not appropriately reflect the health of our business. Total ARR is a performance metric and should be viewed independently of revenue and deferred revenue, and is not intended to be a substitute for, or combined with, any of these items.
Total ARR consists of contributions from all of our revenue streams, including subscriptions and add-ons. We calculate Total ARR as the number of users who have active paid licenses for access to our platform as of the end of the period, multiplied by their annualized subscription price to our platform. We adjust the exchange rates used to calculate Total ARR on an annual basis at the beginning of each fiscal year.
We experienced an increase in ARR during the year ended December 31, 2020, as compared to the year ended December 31, 2019. The increase in ARR was primarily driven by an increase in paying users across our product portfolio, as well as an increased mix of sales going to our higher-priced subscription plans.
The below tables set forth our Total ARR using the exchange rates set at the beginning of each year, as well as on a constant currency basis relative to the exchange rates used in 2020.
|As of December 31,|
|Total ARR ||$||2,022 ||$||1,820 ||$||1,530 |
|As of December 31,|
|Total ARR ||$||2,022 ||$||1,811 ||$||1,510 |
Revaluing our ending Total ARR for fiscal 2020 using exchange rates set at the beginning of fiscal 2021, Total ARR at the end of fiscal 2020 would be $2,052 million.
We undertook several business initiatives that positively impacted Total ARR in the periods presented. These initiatives include the renewal of our grandfathered existing Dropbox Business teams into the Dropbox Business Advanced plan in the second quarter of 2018, and the repricing and repackaging of our existing Dropbox Plus plans in the second quarter of 2019. As of the fiscal year ended 2020, all of our existing Dropbox Plus plans have successfully migrated over to our now current pricing and packaging. In addition to these business initiatives, we also acquired HelloSign in the first quarter of 2019, resulting in a benefit to Total ARR in that period. We also undertook several initiatives to improve the conversion rate of our free users to paying users and saw benefits in Total ARR as we continued to expand our user base and saw an increased mix of sales towards our higher-priced subscription plans.
We define paying users as the number of users who have active paid licenses for access to our platform as of the end of the period. One person would count as multiple paying users if the person had more than one active license. For example, a 50-person Dropbox Business team would count as 50 paying users, and an individual Dropbox Plus user would count as one paying user. If that individual Dropbox Plus user was also part of the 50-person Dropbox Business team, we would count the individual as two paying users.
We have experienced growth in the number of paying users across our products, with the majority of paying users for the periods presented coming from our self-serve channels.
We acquired HelloSign in the first quarter of fiscal 2019. HelloSign has several product lines and the pricing and revenue generated from each product line varies, with some product lines priced based on the number of licenses purchased (similar to Dropbox plans). For purposes of HelloSign results, we include as paying users either (i) the number of users who have active paid licenses for access to the HelloSign platform as of the period end for those products that are priced based on the number of licenses purchased (which is the same method we use to evaluate existing Dropbox plans) or (ii) the number of customers for those products that are priced based on transaction volumes.
The below table sets forth the number of paying users as of December 31, 2020, 2019, and 2018:
| ||As of December 31,|
| ||(In millions)|
|Paying users||15.48 ||14.31 ||12.70 |
Average revenue per paying user
We define average revenue per paying user, or ARPU, as our revenue for the period presented divided by the average paying users during the same period. For interim periods, we use annualized revenue, which is calculated by dividing the revenue for the particular period by the number of days in that period and multiplying this value by 365 days. Average paying users are calculated based on adding the number of paying users as of the beginning of the period to the number of paying users as of the end of the period, and then dividing by two.
In the second quarter of 2019, we repackaged our existing Dropbox Plus plans to include additional features and, as a result, increased the price for new and existing users on this plan. For certain existing users at the time of the price change, the increase in price was effective on their next renewal date. As a result of the price increase, and combined with an increased mix of sales towards our higher-priced subscription plans, we experienced an increase in our average revenue per paying user for the year ended December 31, 2020, compared to the year ended December 31, 2019. As of the fiscal year ended 2020, all of our existing Dropbox Plus plans have successfully migrated over to our now current pricing and packaging.
The below table sets forth our ARPU for the years ended December 31, 2020, 2019, and 2018.
| ||Year ended December 31,|
|ARPU||$||128.50 ||$||123.07 ||$||117.64 |
Non-GAAP Financial Measure
In addition to our results determined in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles, or GAAP, we believe that free cash flow, or FCF, a non-GAAP financial measure, is useful in evaluating our liquidity.
Free cash flow
We define FCF as GAAP net cash provided by operating activities less capital expenditures. We believe that FCF is a liquidity measure and that it provides useful information regarding cash provided by operating activities and cash used for investments in property and equipment required to maintain and grow our business. FCF is presented for supplemental informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for financial information presented in accordance with GAAP. FCF has limitations as an analytical tool, and it should not be considered in isolation or as a substitute for analysis of other GAAP financial measures, such as net cash provided by operating activities. Some of the limitations of FCF are that FCF does not reflect our future contractual commitments, excludes investments made to acquire assets under finance leases, and may be calculated differently by other companies in our industry, limiting its usefulness as a comparative measure.
Our FCF increased for the year ended December 31, 2020, compared to the year ended December 31, 2019, primarily due to an increase in cash provided by operating activities, which was driven by increased subscription sales, as a majority of our paying users are invoiced in advance, and a decrease in capital expenditures, due to decreased spend on office build-outs.
We expect our FCF to generally increase in future periods as we increase subscription sales and reduce our capital expenditures as we shift to a Virtual First environment. We expect to continue to purchase infrastructure equipment to support our user base, however we anticipate our capital expenditures related to our office spaces will decline as the majority of spend related to the build-out of our corporate headquarters is now complete. The timing of our operating expenses as described below, may result in FCF to vary from period to period as a percentage of revenue.
The following is a reconciliation of FCF to the most comparable GAAP measure, net cash provided by operating activities:
| ||Year ended December 31,|
| ||(In millions)|
|Net cash provided by operating activities||$||570.8 ||$||528.5 ||$||425.4 |
|Free cash flow||$||490.7 ||$||392.4 ||$||362.4 |
Components of Our Results of Operations
We generate revenue from sales of subscriptions to our platform.
Revenue is recognized ratably over the related contractual term generally beginning on the date that our platform is made available to a customer. Our subscription agreements typically have monthly or annual contractual terms, although a small percentage have multi-year contractual terms. Our agreements are generally non-cancelable. We typically bill in advance for monthly contracts and annually in advance for contracts with terms of one year or longer. Amounts that have been billed are initially recorded as deferred revenue until the revenue is recognized.
Our revenue is driven primarily by conversions and upsells to our paid plans. We generate over 90% of our revenue from self-serve channels. No customer represented more than 1% of our revenue in the periods presented.
Cost of revenue and gross margin
Cost of revenue. Our cost of revenue consists primarily of expenses associated with the storage, delivery, and distribution of our platform for both paying users and free users, also known as Basic users. These costs, which we refer to as infrastructure
costs, include depreciation of our servers located in co-location facilities that we lease and operate, rent and facilities expense for those datacenters, network and bandwidth costs, support and maintenance costs for our infrastructure equipment, and payments to third-party datacenter service providers. Cost of revenue also includes costs, such as salaries, bonuses, employer payroll taxes and benefits, travel-related expenses, and stock-based compensation, which we refer to as employee-related costs, for employees whose primary responsibilities relate to supporting our infrastructure and delivering user support. Other non-employee costs included in cost of revenue include credit card fees related to processing customer transactions, and allocated overhead, such as facilities, including rent, utilities, depreciation on leasehold improvements and other equipment shared by all departments, and shared information technology costs. In addition, cost of revenue includes amortization of developed technologies, professional fees related to user support initiatives, and property taxes related to the datacenters.
We plan to continue increasing the capacity and enhancing the capability and reliability of our infrastructure to support user growth and increased use of our platform. We expect that cost of revenue will increase in absolute dollars in future periods.
Gross margin. Gross margin is gross profit expressed as a percentage of revenue. Our gross margin may fluctuate from period to period based on the timing of additional capital expenditures and the related depreciation expense, or other increases in our infrastructure costs, as well as revenue fluctuations. As we continue to utilize internal infrastructure, we generally expect our gross margin, to remain relatively constant in both the near term and long term.
Research and development. Our research and development expenses consist primarily of employee-related costs for our engineering, product, and design teams, compensation expenses related to key personnel from acquisitions and allocated overhead. Additionally, research and development expenses include internal development-related third-party hosting fees. We have expensed almost all of our research and development costs as they were incurred.
We plan to continue hiring employees for our engineering, product, and design teams to support our research and development efforts. We expect that research and development costs will increase in absolute dollars in future periods and fluctuate from period to period as a percentage of revenue.
Sales and marketing. Our sales and marketing expenses relate to both self-serve and outbound sales activities, and consist primarily of employee-related costs, brand marketing costs, lead generation costs, sponsorships and allocated overhead. Sales commissions earned by our outbound sales team and the related payroll taxes, as well as commissions earned by third-party resellers that we consider to be incremental and recoverable costs of obtaining a contract with a customer, are deferred and are typically amortized over an estimated period of benefit of five years. Additionally, sales and marketing expenses include non-employee costs related to app store fees, fees payable to third-party sales representatives and amortization of acquired customer relationships.
We plan to continue to invest in sales and marketing to grow our user base and increase our brand awareness, including marketing efforts to continue to drive our self-serve business model. We expect that sales and marketing expenses will increase in absolute dollars in future periods and will fluctuate as a percentage of revenue. The trend and timing of sales and marketing expenses will depend in part on the timing of marketing campaigns.
General and administrative. Our general and administrative expenses consist primarily of employee-related costs for our legal, finance, human resources, and other administrative teams, as well as certain executives. In addition, general and administrative expenses include allocated overhead, outside legal, accounting and other professional fees, and non-income based taxes.
We expect to incur additional general and administrative expenses to support the growth of the Company. General and administrative expenses include the recognition of stock-based compensation expense related to the grant of restricted stock made to our co-founder. We expect that general and administrative expenses will fluctuate in absolute dollars in future periods and will generally decrease as a percentage of revenue, as a result of lower amortization of the right-of-use assets and depreciation of related property and equipment assets following the impairment charge recorded during the year ended December 31, 2020, and our reduction in force.
Interest income (expense), net
Interest income (expense), net consists primarily of interest income earned on our money market funds classified as cash and cash equivalents and short-term investments, partially offset by interest expense related to our finance lease obligations for infrastructure.
Other income (expense), net
Other income (expense), net consists of other non-operating gains or losses, including those related to equity investments, lease arrangements, which include sublease income, foreign currency transaction gains and losses, and realized gains and losses related to our short-term investments.
Benefit from (provision for) income taxes
Provision for income taxes consists primarily of U.S. federal and state income taxes and income taxes in certain foreign jurisdictions in which we conduct business. For the periods presented, the difference between the U.S. statutory rate and our effective tax rate is primarily due to the valuation allowance on deferred tax assets. Our effective tax rate is also impacted by earnings realized in foreign jurisdictions with statutory tax rates lower than the federal statutory tax rate. We maintain a full valuation allowance on our net deferred tax assets for federal, state, and certain foreign jurisdictions as we have concluded that it is not more likely than not that the deferred assets will be realized.
Results of Operations
The following tables set forth our results of operations for the periods presented and as a percentage of our total revenue for those periods:
| ||Year ended December 31,|
| ||(In millions)|
|Revenue||$||1,913.9 ||$||1,661.3 ||$||1,391.7 |
Cost of revenue(1)
|414.6 ||411.0 ||394.7 |
|Gross profit||1,499.3 ||1,250.3 ||997.0 |
|Research and development||727.5 ||662.1 ||768.2 |
|Sales and marketing||422.8 ||423.3 ||439.6 |
|General and administrative||227.8 ||245.4 ||283.2 |
Impairment related to real estate assets(2)
|398.2 ||— ||— |
|Total operating expenses||1,776.3 ||1,330.8 ||1,491.0 |
|Loss from operations||(277.0)||(80.5)||(494.0)|
|Interest income, net||1.7 ||12.5 ||7.1 |
|Other income, net||25.1 ||16.0 ||6.8 |
|Loss before income taxes||(250.2)||(52.0)||(480.1)|
|Benefit from (provision for) income taxes||(6.1)||(0.7)||(4.8)|
(1)Includes stock-based compensation as follows:
| ||Year ended December 31,|
| ||(In millions)|
|Cost of revenue||$||17.1 ||$||15.8 ||$||47.0 |
|Research and development||174.1 ||147.6 ||368.2 |
|Sales and marketing||33.7 ||31.4 ||94.3 |
General and administrative(3)
|36.6 ||66.4 ||140.6 |
Total stock-based compensation(4)
|$||261.5 ||$||261.2 ||$||650.1 |
(2)Includes impairment charges related to certain right-of-use and other lease related assets as a result of our decision to shift to a Virtual First work model. See Note 9 "Leases" for further information.
(3)On March 19, 2020, one of our co-founders resigned as a member of the board and as an officer of the Company, resulting in the reversal of $23.8 million in stock-based compensation expense. Of the total amount reversed, $21.5 million related to expense recognized prior to December 31, 2019. See Note 12 "Stockholders' Equity" for further information.
(4)Upon the effectiveness of the registration statement for our initial public offering, which was March 22, 2018, the liquidity event-related performance vesting condition associated with our two-tier RSUs was satisfied. During the year ended December 31, 2018, we recognized the cumulative unrecognized stock-based compensation of $418.7 million. See "Significant Impacts of Stock Based Compensation" for further information regarding our equity arrangements
The following table sets forth our results of operations for each of the periods presented as a percentage of revenue:
| ||Year ended December 31,|
|As a percentage of revenue|
|Revenue||100 ||%||100 ||%||100 ||%|
Cost of revenue
|22 ||25 ||28 |
|Gross profit||78 ||75 ||72 |
|Research and development||38 ||40 ||55 |
|Sales and marketing||22 ||25 ||32 |
|General and administrative||12 ||15 ||20 |
|Impairment related to real estate assets||21 ||— ||— |
|Total operating expenses||93 ||80 ||107 |
|Loss from operations||(14)||(5)||(35)|
|Interest income, net||— ||1 ||1 |
|Other income, net||1 ||1 ||— |
|Loss before income taxes||(13)||(3)||(34)|
|Benefit from (provision for) income taxes||— ||— ||— |
Comparison of the year ended December 31, 2020 and 2019
| ||Year ended|
| || |
| ||2020||2019||$ Change||% Change|
| ||(In millions)|| || |
|Revenue||$||1,913.9 ||$||1,661.3 ||$||252.6 ||15 ||%|
Revenue increased $252.6 million or 15% during the year ended December 31, 2020, as compared to the year ended December 31, 2019. The increase in revenue was driven primarily by an increase in paying users, an increase in the price of our Plus plan, and an increased mix of sales towards our higher-priced subscription plans.
Cost of revenue, gross profit, and gross margin
| ||Year ended|
| || |
| ||2020||2019||$ Change||% Change|
| ||(In millions)|| || |
|Cost of revenue||$||414.6 ||$||411.0 ||$||3.6 ||1 ||%|
|Gross profit||1,499.3 ||1,250.3 ||249.0 ||20 ||%|
|Gross margin||78 ||%||75 ||%|
Cost of revenue increased $3.6 million or 1% during the year ended December 31, 2020, as compared to the year ended December 31, 2019, primarily due to increases of $6.2 million in employee-related costs due to headcount growth and $5.7 million in credit card transaction fees due to higher sales and professional fees for user support. These increases were offset by a decrease of $8.0 million in infrastructure costs due to unit and storage cost efficiency gains related to our ongoing infrastructure optimization efforts.
Our gross margin increased from 75% during the year ended December 31, 2019 to 78% during the year ended December 31, 2020, primarily due to a 15% increase in our revenue during the period offset by a lesser increase in our cost of revenue described above.
Research and development
| ||Year ended|
| || |
| ||2020||2019||$ Change||% Change|
| ||(In millions)|| || |
|Research and development||$||727.5 ||$||662.1 ||$||65.4 ||10 ||%|
Research and development expenses increased $65.4 million or 10% during the year ended December 31, 2020, as compared to the year ended December 31, 2019, primarily due to an increase of $62.4 million in employee-related costs due to headcount growth in the first half of the fiscal year ended 2020.
Sales and marketing
| ||Year ended|
| || |
| ||2020||2019||$ Change||% Change|
| ||(In millions)|| || |
|Sales and marketing||$||422.8 ||$||423.3 ||$||(0.5)||— ||%|
Sales and marketing expenses decreased $0.5 million or 0% during the year ended December 31, 2020, as compared to the year ended December 31, 2019, due to decreases of $13.6 million related to brand marketing expenses driven by a reduction of events due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and $6.4 million in allocated overhead, which includes facilities-related costs for our corporate headquarters. These decreases were offset by increases of $13.2 million in app store fees due to increased sales and $7.8 million in employee-related costs due to headcount growth in the first half of the fiscal year ended 2020.
General and administrative
| ||Year ended|
| || |
| ||2020||2019||$ Change||% Change|
| ||(In millions)|| || |
|General and administrative||$||227.8 ||$||245.4 ||$||(17.6)||(7)||%|
General and administrative expense decreased $17.6 million or 7% during the year ended December 31, 2020, as compared to the year ended December 31, 2019, primarily due to a decrease of $29.8 million in stock-based compensation, with the majority of the decrease due to the resignation of one of our co-founders and the forfeiture of his Co-Founder Grant in the first quarter of 2020 as discussed in " --Note 12. Stockholders' Equity." The decrease was offset by increases of $7.3 million in legal fees and insurance premiums and $2.6 million in allocated overhead, which includes facilities-related costs for our corporate headquarters.
Impairment related to real estate assets
Impairment related to real estate assets was $398.2 million during the year ended December 31, 2020, due to an impairment charge related to the right-of-use and other lease related assets driven by the decision to shift towards a Virtual First work model as discussed in "--Note 9. Leases."
Interest income, net
Interest income, net decreased $10.8 million during the year ended December 31, 2020, as compared to the year ended December 31, 2019, primarily due to a decrease in interest income from our money market funds and short-term investments as a result of government-initiated interest rate reductions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Other income, net
Other income, net increased $9.1 million during the year ended December 31, 2020, as compared to the year ended December 31, 2019, primarily due to $16.0 million in gains related to an equity investment and foreign currency transaction gains. These increases were offset by a decrease of $6.8 million due to the disposal of infrastructure assets in the year ended December 31, 2019.
Benefit from (provision for) income taxes
Provision for income taxes increased by $5.4 million during the year ended December 31, 2020 as compared to the year ended December 31, 2019, primarily due to a one-time tax benefit related to the acquisition of HelloSign in 2019.
Quarterly Results of Operations (Unaudited)
The following table sets forth our unaudited quarterly statements of operations data for each of the last eight quarters ended December 31, 2020. The information for each of these quarters has been prepared on the same basis as the audited annual financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K and, in the opinion of management, includes all adjustments, which includes only normal recurring adjustments, necessary for the fair statement of the results of operations for these periods. This data should be read in conjunction with our audited consolidated financial statements and related notes thereto included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. These quarterly results of operations are not necessarily indicative of our future results of operations that may be expected for any future period.
| ||Three months ended|
| ||December 31,|
| || (In millions, except per share amounts)|
|Revenue||$||504.1 ||$||487.4 ||$||467.4 ||$||455.0 ||$||446.0 ||$||428.2 ||$||401.5 ||$||385.6 |
Cost of revenue(1)
|105.8 ||103.2 ||102.5 ||103.1 ||104.9 ||104.8 ||102.9 ||98.4 |
|Gross profit||398.3 ||384.2 ||364.9 ||351.9 ||341.1 ||323.4 ||298.6 ||287.2 |
|Research and development||176.6 ||183.3 ||185.8 ||181.8 ||176.9 ||172.8 ||162.4 ||150.0 |
|Sales and marketing||109.9 ||105.8 ||102.8 ||104.3 ||106.3 ||108.2 ||107.3 ||101.5 |
|General and administrative||60.2 ||65.1 ||63.5 ||39.0 ||64.5 ||61.0 ||62.9 ||57.0 |
Impairment related to real estate assets(2)
|398.2 ||— ||— ||— ||— ||— ||— ||— |
|Total operating expenses||744.9 ||354.2 ||352.1 ||325.1 ||347.7 ||342.0 ||332.6 ||308.5 |
|Income (loss) from operations||$||(346.6)||$||30.0 ||$||12.8 ||$||26.8 ||$||(6.6)||$||(18.6)||$||(34.0)||$||(21.3)|
|Net income (loss)||$||(345.8)||$||32.7 ||$||17.5 ||$||39.3 ||$||(6.6)||$||(17.0)||$||(21.4)||$||(7.7)|
|Basic net income (loss) per share||$||(0.84)||$||0.08 ||$||0.04 ||$||0.09 ||$||(0.02)||$||(0.04)||$||(0.05)||$||(0.02)|
|Diluted net income (loss) per share||$||(0.84)||$||0.08 ||$||0.04 ||$||0.09 ||$||(0.02)||$||(0.04)||$||(0.05)||$||(0.02)|
(1)Includes stock-based compensation as follows:
| ||Three months ended|
| ||December 31,|
| || (In millions)|
|Cost of revenue||$||4.5 ||$||4.6 ||$||4.5 ||$||3.5 ||$||4.0 ||$||4.1 ||$||4.7 ||$||3.0 |
|Research and development||43.0 ||46.9 ||47.0 ||37.2 ||40.5 ||38.9 ||37.7 ||30.5 |
|Sales and marketing||8.6 ||8.9 ||9.5 ||6.7 ||7.8 ||7.7 ||8.8 ||7.1 |
General and administrative(3)
|13.3 ||15.3 ||15.6 ||(7.6)||17.0 ||17.5 ||16.9 ||15.0 |
Total stock-based compensation(4)
|$||69.4 ||$||75.7 ||$||76.6 ||$||39.8 |