Dropbox Buys Supercomputing Startup — And That Makes Perfect Sense

/// Dropbox Buys Supercomputing Startup — And That Makes Perfect Sense

November 19, 2013  |  Blog

Dropbox, the online file-sharing startup, just acquired a company that provides instant access to your very own virtual supercomputer.

This company is called PiCloud, and on Monday, it revealed the acquisition with a short blog post, indicating that its online supercomputing service was struggling to find firm financial footing.

“We’re so proud of how far PiCloud has come, but it’s become clear that the industry we’ve chosen is not ready for the fast-paced growth demanded by a venture-backed business,” the San Francisco-based outfit wrote. “For this reason, the team has decided to join Dropbox, a company full of bright, ambitious individuals whose values remind us of our own.”

In a statement emailed to WIRED, a Dropbox spokeswoman said the company sees a similar affinity with PiCloud. “Dropbox and PiCloud share a similar vision,” the statement reads. “We respect what the team at PiCloud has built, and we’re excited about the top-notch talent that has come on board.”

This may still sound like an odd match, but the acquisition is a nice metaphor for a widespread trend in the world of the internet: Behind the scenes, the world’s most popular web services are turning into supercomputers that processing massive amounts of information with each passing second. These companies — from Google and Facebook and Amazon to Dropbox and Twitter — need the expertise of people who know how to build the most complex and powerful of computing systems.

The PiCloud isn’t literally creating a supercomputer inside Dropbox. Its existing supercomputing service — a way of accessing a massive amount of computing power via the net — will live on as an open source project operated by an independent outfit called Multyvac — and the company’s engineers will join the Dropbox team that helps outside software developers build software and services that plug into Dropbox, fashioning various application programming interfaces, or APIs, for the file-sharing service.

“We’ll be bringing our API-building expertise to the Dropbox Platform,” the company said, referring to the service’s newly announced set of developer tools, “helping ease and accelerate developer access to one of the greatest collections of data in the world.”

But the subtext here is that building developer tools for such a widely used and complex service requires the help of people who really understand hardcore computing. Google’s success is down to far more than just search experts. And if Dropbox is to turn its service into a platform used by services across the web, it needs people who can do more than just move a computer file from place to place.

Link: Dropbox Buys Supercomputing Startup — And That Makes Perfect Sense

Wired – Cade Metz

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