Category Archives: Y Combinator

Drew Houston’s Y Combinator Pitch for Dropbox

Here are some choice tidbits from Drew Houston’s application for Y Combinator backing:

What is your company going to make?  
Dropbox synchronizes files across your/your team’s computers. It’s much better than uploading or email, because it’s automatic, integrated into Windows, and fits into the way you already work. There’s also a web interface, and the files are securely backed up to Amazon S3. Dropbox is kind of like taking the best elements of subversion, trac and rsync and making them “just work” for the average individual or team. Hackers have access to these tools, but normal people don’t.

There are lots of interesting possible features. One is syncing Google Docs/Spreadsheets (or other office web apps) to local .doc and .xls files for offline access, which would be strategically important as few web apps deal with the offline problem.

What’s new about what you’re doing?  
Most small teams have a few basic needs: (1) team members need their important stuff in front of them wherever they are, (2) everyone needs to be working on the latest version of a given document (and ideally can track what’s changed), (3) and team data needs to be protected from disaster. There are sync tools (e.g. beinsync, Foldershare), there are backup tools (Carbonite, Mozy), and there are web uploading/publishing tools (, etc.), but there’s no good integrated solution.

Dropbox solves all these needs, and doesn’t need configuration or babysitting. Put another way, it takes concepts that are proven winners from the dev community (version control, changelogs/trac, rsync, etc.) and puts them in a package that my little sister can figure out (she uses Dropbox to keep track of her high school term papers, and doesn’t need to burn CDs or carry USB sticks anymore.)

At a higher level, online storage and local disks are big and cheap. But the internet links in between have been and will continue to be slow in comparison. In “the future”, you won’t have to move your data around manually. The concept that I’m most excited about is that the core technology in Dropbox — continuous efficient sync with compression and binary diffs — is what will get us there.

What do you understand about your business that other companies in it just don’t get?  
Competing products work at the wrong layer of abstraction and/or force the user to constantly think and do things. The “online disk drive” abstraction sucks, because you can’t work offline and the OS support is extremely brittle. Anything that depends on manual emailing/uploading (i.e. anything web-based) is a non-starter, because it’s basically doing version control in your head. But virtually all competing services involve one or the other.

With Dropbox, you hit “Save”, as you normally would, and everything just works, even with large files (thanks to binary diffs).

What are people forced to do now because what you plan to make doesn’t exist yet?
Email themselves attachments. Upload stuff to online storage sites or use online drives like Xdrive, which don’t work on planes. Carry around USB drives, which can be lost, stolen, or break/get bad sectors. Waste time revising the wrong versions of given documents, resulting in Frankendocuments that contain some changes but lose others. My friend Reuben is switching his financial consulting company from a PHP-based CMS to a beta of Dropbox because all they used it for was file sharing. Techies often hack together brittle solutions involving web hosting, rsync, and cron jobs.

Want more detail? Read the full application.

NetDNA, YC’s Leftronic Partner on Real-Time CDN Monitoring

Content delivery network provider NetDNA today announced its partnership with Y-Combinator-funded Leftronic, to develop high-performance, secure and real-time data visualization dashboards for its CDN services.

Now, NetDNA or MaxCDN customers can get a bird’s-eye view of their traffic, including daily, weekly or monthly statistics on popular files, popular file types, status codes, cache hit percentage, statistics by location and more.  All of which are presented in a Web browser using Leftronic’s real-time, large screen metric dashboard platform.

The companies also worked together to provide dashboards measuring traffic on NetDNA’s Bootstrap CDN project, samples of which are available online.

“We’re excited to be partnering with Leftronic because monitoring traffic is a critical step to receiving the full benefits of our CDN service.  Now they can do that in a big and beautiful way using only a browser,” said Justin Dorfman, NetDNA’s Developer Advocate.

“We could see an immediate synergy between our two companies when NetDNA shared with us the demand for better CDN reporting it saw in its customer base,” said Rajiv Ghanta, CEO of Leftronic. “The company is truly developer friendly with its well-supported API and fast customer support.  We’re looking forward to a lasting relationship with the company.”

Leftronic has created a data visualization platform that helps companies monitor and track their business metrics. The platform has no software to download, instead everything is shown in a Web browser for easy accessibility and organization. The technology is combined with a simple-to-use front-end interface for visualizing the data and has an API for integrating custom company data.

With more than 10,000 customers trusting its content delivery services, NetDNA provides simple, efficient and affordable web performance optimization solutions that help customers to increase and improve their website speed. Most recently, NetDNA’s MaxCDN service has been its leading, popular solution among businesses because of its easy sign up system and versatile web performance acceleration.