Activist investor Elliott Management has had remarkable success lately, helping push both AT&T to abandon its disastrous entertainment diversification and Dell to spin off VMware. (Its track record in Twitter, on the other hand, is, well, meh). It will, however, take all of Elliott’s skill to get a return on its investment in Dropbox, first reported today by the Wall Street Journal.
As Starboard Value has learned with its so far fruitless pressure campaign against Box—Dropbox’s alter ego in the corporate storage market—there’s no easy solution to Dropbox’s stagnant stock performance. Well before Dropbox went public in 2018, online storage was a commoditized business, particularly in the consumer market that is Dropbox’s strength. Google and Apple both offer loads of storage for next to nothing. It’s not necessarily a sign of poor management that Dropbox’s revenue growth has been gradually dropping, to 12% in the first quarter from 18% a year earlier.