Industry Insights

Dropbox Ups Paperless Trend and Acquires HelloSign

Going paperless with technology has become the mainstay for most technology companies. Traditionally, you had to print, sign, scan, and email documents to your clients for them to print, sign, and fax signatures back to you. Since contracts are vital to most businesses, the recent news of Dropbox acquiring electronic signature startup HelloSign is a logical step. Dropbox is cloud storage, file synchronization, personal cloud, and client software. This acquisition will enable the company to expand its technical abilities, along with allowing it to better compete with industry giants Adobe, DocuSign, Apple, Google, and Microsoft in the electronic signature space.

Co-Founder and CEO Drew Houston of Dropbox explained the reasoning behind the decision to acquire HelloSign: “With over an exabyte of data on our platform, millions of people already use Dropbox as a place to collaborate on their most important content. We’re thrilled to welcome HelloSign’s talented team to Dropbox and add their capabilities to our product suite. HelloSign has built a thriving business focused on eSignature and document workflow products that their users love. Together, we can deliver an even better experience to Dropbox users, simplify their workflows, and expand the market we serve.”

Since going public last year, this will be Dropbox’s largest cash purchase ever at $230 million. HelloSign, a Bay Area startup, was launched in 2011 to help companies create a paperless environment by enabling electronic signatures, as well as additional services. In 2017, they secured a round of $16 million in funding to help expand their e-signature business, and now have multiple products working together: HelloSign, HelloSign API, HelloWorks, HelloFax, and the HelloFax API.

Back in November 2018, Dropbox launched partners for its new Extensions product, and HelloSign was among them. This opened up the cloud-storage service to allow third-party applications and tools. The participation of HelloSign essentially meant users could share PDF or Word documents externally from within Dropbox, and request an e-signature—the start of the developing relationship between them.

HelloSign’s CEO Joseph Walla commented: "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."

HelloSign streamlined their platform to help businesses digitally collect legally binding signatures on documents. Contrary to popular belief, e-signatures have the same weight as pen to paper signatures, but with significantly less administrative and financial concerns. HelloSign has proven that moving to e-signatures has been shown to increase revenue on average by 8% in the first year.

In addition to collecting e-signatures, their products provide tools for reducing administrative overhead. These include automation of signature reminders, incorporating editable and pre-populated custom fields on documents to minimize human error, and using templates to avoid creating the same documents over and over again.

Since HelloSign can be embedded into third-party software, it plays nice with favorite business tools like Google, Salesforce, Dropbox, and Evernote. Its APIs even allow you to incorporate e-signatures into your other applications. HelloSign also offers tools for faxing documents digitally and managing the flow of paperwork. According to its COO, Whitney Bouck, e-signature is the most popular tool, and since going green is a major concern, by switching to e-signatures you'll be using significantly less paper to conduct your business.

While the practice of sending faxes continues on, fax machines themselves can finally be retired thanks to online fax services such as HelloFax. Their service has a slick, modern interface that makes it easy to send and receive faxes from the web, or from the comfort of your email client. Its integrated form-filling and digital-signature features eliminate the hassle of printing and manually sending documents, and enables you to send and receive faxes online from anywhere to everywhere. Incoming faxes go directly to the recipient's inbox, and outgoing faxes are sent online, all from your computer. HelloFax offers confidential and secure transmission. All transmissions are encrypted with bank-level security.

Another product offering is HelloWorks, a digital workflow product built on top of the existing HelloSign platform, but with an additional value proposition. It helps you transform your document process and standardize your workflow content automation, connecting related processes and tools into the document itself. The opportunity, and the need, is obvious. After all, many of today’s business processes rely on forms and documents in PDF format to gather information such as loan applications, new bank account openings, new hire onboarding, home purchases, and so on. These processes are typically high volume, and directly relate to one's revenue stream, yet, they are highly complex and prone to errors.

One of HelloSign's clients that has had major success with their suite of products is Instacart. By changing the way their system works, they were able to organize thousands of personal shoppers, enabling them to complete forms faster, and join quicker.

"HelloWorks has helped to transform our process for onboarding new shoppers, enabling them to fill out shopper contracts and forms directly in our mobile app,” said Bill Babeaux, Product Manager at Instacart. “HelloWorks has significantly improved our completion rate for onboarding Shoppers over our previous PDF and email-based system. We’re now exploring other ways we can improve costly processes using HelloSign’s new platform.”

Ending Notes

Dropbox's aquistion of HelloSign is expected to close in the first quarter of 2019. In a letter published on HelloSign's blog, Walla said the company will continue to operate as an independent business under the Dropbox umbrella. "Our first and foremost priority has always been and will remain taking care of our customers," Walla explained. "If anything, our customers can expect an accelerated rate of innovation to the HelloSign products they know and love already, supported by the resources and reach of Dropbox."

HelloSign CEO Joseph Walla will be reporting directly to Dropbox's SVP of Engineering, Quentin Clark. Dropbox's sales team will focus on drumming up more business for HelloSign, while Dropbox will continue to work with other electronic signature providers such as Adobe and DocuSign, who also launched as partners for Dropbox Extensions.

While Dropbox hasn’t given any information on how they plan to leverage HelloSign, the products are a good fit, and will likely lead to deeper integrations. It’s not just about putting a paper-based form online, it's about driving change in terms of the way these things work. HelloSign’s suite of products allow information—once stuck in static form— to flow into whichever systems, applications, and databases need it. With more transactions being carried out online, e-signatures are only going to become more commonplace. This highlights Dropbox's aggressive nature to push into commercial and enterprise customers as the company aims to provide more value and expand on its software-as-a-service business model.

Natalie Evans

Natalie Evans

Natalie Evans has over 16-years in the tech industry and currently works as the event coordinator and tech reporter for CMS-Connected, keeping up-to-date on what's happening in and around the Content Management industry.

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