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Dropbox makes key hire in push to win university business

Key Speakers At The Brooklyn Beta ConferenceKey Speakers At The Brooklyn Beta Conference

Online file sharing company Dropbox has made a key hire in its push to recruit universities and other educational institutions to use its service.

Jason Katcher, who previously led Google Apps for education in the U.S., is joining Dropbox as head of its education vertical, the company said Thursday.

Dropbox also said that Arizona State University, one the largest universities in the U.S., is adopting Dropbox for education for its 10,000 faculty and staff. Other universities using Dropbox’s education file sharing service include California State University-Fullerton, University of Oklahoma, and MIT (where Dropbox co-founder Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi both attended college).

Dropbox is facing increased competition with fellow cloud storage and sharing company Box (BOX) as well as Microsoft (MSFT) to win paid enterprise accounts, including universities. Dropbox, which has 400 million users, said previously it has over 100,000 paying business customers (out of 8 million businesses) and 97% of the Fortune 500 are using its service. Dropbox for business costs $150 per year, per employee.

Competition for customers isn’t Dropbox’s only struggle these days. The company, whose value was pegged at $10 billion in its latest funding round, needs to grow revenue at a high pace to justify its lofty valuation, and prepare to be a public company.

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