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Dropbox snares HelloSign for $230M, gets workflow and eSignature – TechCrunch

Dropbox announced today that it has purchased HelloSign, a company that provides lightweight document workflow and eSignature services. The company paid a hefty $230 million for the privilege.

Dropbox’s SVP of engineering, Quentin Clark, sees this as more than simply bolting on electronic signature functionality to the Dropbox solution. For him, the workflow capabilities that HelloSign added in 2017 were really key to the purchase.

“What is unique about HelloSign is that the investment they’ve made in APIs and the workflow products is really so aligned with our long term direction,” Clark told TechCrunch. “It’s not just a thing to do one more activity with Dropbox, it’s really going to help us pursue that broader vision,” he added. That vision involves extending the storage capabilities that is as the core of the Dropbox solution

This can also been seen in the context of the Extension capability that Dropbox added last year. HelloSign was actually one of the companies involved at launch. While Clark says the company will continue to encourage companies to extend the Dropbox solution, today’s acquisition gives it a capability of its own that doesn’t require a partnership and already is connected to Dropbox via Extensions.

Alan Pelz-Sharpe, founder and principal analyst at Deep Analysis, who has been following this market for many years, says the fact it’s an Extensions partners should allow fast integration. “Simple document processes that relate to small and medium business are still largely manual. The fact that HelloSign has solutions for things like real estate, insurance and customer/employee on boarding, plus the existing extension to Dropbox, means it can be leveraged quickly for revenue growth by Dropbox, Pelz-Sharp explained.

He added that the size of the deal shows that there is demand for these kinds capabilities. “It is a very high multiple, but in such a fast growth area not an unreasonable one to demand for a startup showing such growth potential. The price suggests that there were almost certainly other highly motivated bidders for the deal,” he said.

HelloSign CEO Joseph Walla says being part of Dropbox gives HelloSign access to resources of a much larger public company, which should allow it to reach a broader market than it could on its own. “We share a design philosophy based on building the best experience for end-users, fueling our efficient business models and sales strategies. Together with Dropbox, we can bring more seamless document workflows to even more customers and dramatically accelerate our impact,”  Walla said in a blog post announcing the deal.

Whitney Bouck, COO at HelloSign, who previous held stints at Box and EMC Documentum, said the company will remain an independent entity. That means it will continue to operate with its current management structure and Clark indicated that all of the employees will be offered employment at Dropbox as part of the deal.

“We’re going to remain effectively a standalone business within the Dropbox family, so that we can continue to focus on developing the great products that we have been delivering value. So the good news is that our customers won’t really experienced the massive change. They just get more opportunity,” Bouck said.

Clark said that it was too soon to say exactly how they will bundle and incorporate HelloSign functionality beyond the Extensions. But he expects that the company will find a way to integrate the two products where it make sense, even while HelloSign operates as a separate company with its own customers.

When you consider that HelloSign, a Bay area startup that launched in 2011, raised just $16 million, it appears to be a impressive return for investors and a solid exit for the company. 

The deal is expected to close in Q1 and is per usual dependent on regulatory approval.

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