Enterprise file sharing and sync (EFSS) is the gift that keeps on giving. Maybe it was just a function of the fact that I started writing about cloud back around the time of its genesis, but I seem to have floated around a swirling mass of EFS vendors over the years. I remember planning a meeting with Dropbox founder, Drew Houston, when Dropbox was a tiny company and still just a few people trying to work out what they were doing. The fact that the meeting didn’t happen due to the fact that he was out partying and forgot is an indication of just how marginal things were back in the early days.

Back then we had a fresh-faced Aaron Levie, CEO of Box (OK, everyone knows that Levie is still fresh-faced, but back then he looked like a teenager) making the move from Box being a consumer offering to an enterprise one. Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive weren’t even thought of back then and all the big clunky document management vendors couldn’t get out of their own way to even think about the cloud.

There were another few startups playing in the space – ShareFile, founded by Jesse Lipson, was getting some traction, as was Syncplicity and another company coming at it from a different angle, YouSendIt. Suffice it to say, it was busy times.

It was also pretty seat-of-the-pants. Functionality and reliability that we take for granted today simply didn’t exist back then. Effective file sharing and synchronization is a problem that, in my view, has now been solved. I use several different solutions and they’re robust and reliable. Sure some highly-regulated enterprise customers might moan about some super-specific functionality that isn’t available, but for the most part, most use cases are ticked off.

Which means that we are going to enter a time when consolidation, product expansion into adjacencies and M&A activity is going to increase. And so it was last week with the announcement that YouSendIt (which was actually renamed Hightail back in 2013) has been acquired by OpenText. OpenText is an interesting company which focused on broad content management, but does so by buying up older companies (and, often, distressed assets) and wringing every last penny out of them.

YouSendIt/Hightail is an edge case provider, helping businesses such as graphic designers and architects send large files via email. It originated back when FTP (anyone remember that?) was the norm for sending files and it was essentially a nice UI wrapper for FTP. That use case is getting edgier all the time, but OpenText can wring a few more profitable years out of it.

In the same week, it was also announced that Dell was selling its cloud backup service, Mozy, to Carbonite for $145 million. Mozy was another early cloud backup service (in its case, having been founded in 2005) and was acquired by EMC in 2007 for around $80 million. Dell inherited Mozy when it, in turn, acquired EMC in 2015 and selling Mozy off allows them to generate a bit of cash and get rid of a product that doesn’t fit particularly neatly with the rest of the portfolio.

For Carbonite, similar to OpenText with YouSendIt, it’s about broadening a product portfolio and squeezing some mid-term value out of a mature product and customer base.


Expect to see more of this sort of activity as the realities of trying to build a business in such a busy (and, arguably, newly matured) space bites home. 10 points to the person who correctly guesses who is next to go…

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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