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Dropbox’s new team feature makes it a better tool for the workplace

To make Dropbox for Business a more enticing product

Dropbox is launching a team feature that aims to make its file hosting service a better tool for workplace collaboration, the company announced Monday. Existing Dropbox users will soon see a "team" tab on the left-hand menu list that will let you organize groups of employees and share files with those sets of users in a central hub.

Dropbox is also making it easier to separate your personal files from your work ones after the company discovered that around 60 percent of both basic and pro users access Dropbox for work. "Most people, if you look at their data, they put everything in one account," said Pranav Piyush, a Dropbox product manager, in an interview.

The end result, Piyush added, is a situation where many users' personal files and work files are mixed in confusing ways. Now Dropbox is making a clear distinction between a work and personal account and will let users toggle between the two, as opposed to signing in and out of separate accounts tied to different email addresses.

For Dropbox, which has more than 400 million users, the team feature and account simplification is a step toward the type of business-focused service it's been aspiring to be for some time now. Selling cloud storage, Dropbox's original business model, is becoming increasingly difficult as huge tech titans like Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon race one another to up the amount of storage they sell at ever-lower prices. Dropbox's goal now is to eschew finding revenue from its Pro accounts, which cost $10 a month, and become primarily a service companies will pay for at $15 a user per month.

Dropbox wants to be more than just a place to store files

Dropbox's team feature is partly piggy-backing off the success of companies like Slack, the San Francisco-based startup that makes an explosively popular chat application for businesses to communicate with and collaborate on. Dropbox is far from creating a stand-alone chat app; its service remains more comparable to Google Drive and file sharing service Box than any other existing workplace software. But Dropbox is interested in figuring out how to be more than just the place we put our files.

"Dropbox’s goal is to simplify the way people work together," Piyush said. That inherently means communication and other forms of online collaboration Dropbox's founders did not include in the service when it launched in 2007, but are now interested in tapping into. "That’s going to be a continued story you’ll see unfold over the next several years."