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Dropbox CEO explains how a ‘zombie startup’ is worse than failure



Drew Houston
Dropbox CEO Drew


  • At Business Insider’s Ignition conference, Dropbox CEO Drew Houston explained
    the one thing that’s even worse than a failing startup: a
    “zombie startup.”
  • A zombie startup is a company that’s neither
    “succeeding nor dying.”
  • Houston said focusing on growth is the best way to avoid
    “zombie mode.”

Turns out, there might be one thing even worse than a startup
that’s failing: a “zombie startup.”

In a conversation with Business Insider’s editor-in-chief, Alyson
Shontell, and Y Combinator’s Paul Graham at Business Insider’s
Ignition conference in New York on Monday, Dropbox CEO Drew
Houston described how having a “zombie startup” can sometimes be
even worse than heading up a company that’s failing. 

“I felt like in my first company which I bootstrapped, it’s very
easy to get into this ‘zombie mode,’ where your startup is
neither truly succeeding nor dying,” Houston said. “This is
actually worse than failing.”

Read more:

The rise of Dropbox CEO Drew
Houston, who just made the Forbes 400 after taking his company

For many startups, growth is often one of the surest metrics of
measuring a company’s success early on, and Houston said that one
way to avoid “zombie mode” is to keep that focus on growth, even
as the company scales.

“You can’t fake growth,” Houston said. “[Growth] is just a
measure of: do you have customers? Are they happy?”

You can watch the full conversation here: 

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