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Man Sells Month-Old App To Dropbox For $100 Million

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Jordan Shepherd

While many dream of designing an app that will sell for millions, one man had this dream fulfilled when his app was purchased to the tune of $100 million before it was even widely available to the public, just one month after its inception.

Gentry Underwood sold his app, Mailbox, to Dropbox for $100 million when the app was only available via mailing list at the time.

Underwood’s app allows users to clear their email inboxes much quicker and more efficiently on their smartphones than with traditional methods.

By maximizing the ability of email on smartphones, he was able to grab the attention of major companies, including Dropbox.

“It’s very natural when a new platform comes along to expect behavior to work as it did in the old platform, which means, for a smartphone, take a desktop email client and jam it down into the mobile device, because that’s all you know,” he said to Wired.”You don’t know how people’s behavior is going to be different; you’ve never seen it before.”

Mailbox-App-1

With people opting to use their cell phones to access their email at a much higher rate than with desktops and laptops as business takes people on the go, Mailbox has become an innovation many have come to appreciate.

Mailbox isn’t an email client itself, but rather a more organized inbox. The service hasn’t been built independently on a large scale because this sort of inbox requires a massive investment, such as the one provided by Dropbox.

“To deliver mail quickly when you open your device, we actually took a lot of infrastructure that historically has lived directly on the mail client and we moved it into the cloud,” Underwood explained.

“When you set up a mailbox account, Mailbox begins checking your mail from the cloud, reformatting it, sending you push messages when there are new messages, and having this tiny little snapshot ready for you when you open up the phone that, as soon as you hit the network, we just hand it to you as quickly as possible.

“That allows us to create a fast experience even though we’re only accessing the radio for a brief amount of time. But it’s a massive technological challenge to pull that off.

“For every person using mailbox there needs to be a bit of dedicated infrastructure that’s acting like a mail client on behalf of the cloud. The gap was created by mobile devices themselves.”

For more info on Mailbox, check out the video below!

Jordan Shepherd

Jordan Shepherd

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