Dropbox launches $50M AI-focused venture fund, intros AI features

Not content to sit on the sidelines of the generative AI race, Dropbox today launched Dropbox Ventures, a new $50 venture fund focused on startups in the AI space.

The company’s first venture arm, Dropbox Ventures will provide mentorship in addition to financial support to build AI-powered products that “shape the future of work,” Dropbox said in a press release.

VCs have steadily increased their positions in AI over the past few years, spurred recently by the growth in generative AI. According to GlobalData, AI startups received over $52 billion in funding across more than 3,300 deals in the last year alone.

Corporate initiatives are a major source of that funding. For example, Salesforce Ventures, Salesforce’s VC division, plans to pour $500 million into startups developing generative AI technologies. Workday recently added $250 million to its existing VC fund specifically to back AI and machine learning startups. And OpenAI, the company behind the viral chatbot ChatGPT, has raised a $175 million fund to invest in AI startups.

New AI-powered features

Putting its money where its mouth is, Dropbox today announced new AI-powered additions to its flagship cloud storage product.

The first, called Dropbox Dash, is a “universal” search bar can canvas across tools, content and apps from third-party platforms including Google Workspace, Microsoft Outlook, Salesforce and Notion. Designed to help find and organize various types of content, Dash will “learn, evolve and improve” the more customers use it, Dropbox says.

Dropbox AI

Dropbox Dash.

“Soon, Dash will be able to pull from your information and your company’s information to answer questions and surface relevant content using generative AI,” the company wrote in a blog post. “You won’t need to sift through all your company’s internal links and pages to find out when the next company holiday is — you’ll just be able to ask Dash and get an answer, fast.”

In addition to surfacing content, Dash can create collections — Stacks — for links, offering a way to save, organize and retrieve URLs. Stacks are accessible from the new Start Page, which also hosts shortcuts to recently-accessed work in Dropbox and the Dash search bar.

Dropbox AI

The new Start Page in Dropbox.

Dropbox’s other new AI innovation is Dropbox AI, which summarizes and extracts information from files stored in a Dropbox account.

Dropbox AI can review and generate summaries from documents as well as video previews. And it can answer questions in a chatbot-like fashion, drawing from the contents of research papers, contracts, meeting recordings and more.

At launch, Dropbox AI works with file previews. But it’ll soon expand to folders and entire Dropbox accounts.

Given AI’s tendency to go off the rails, one might wonder about the accuracy of Dropbox AI’s summaries. Are they consistent? Can they be trusted?

To allay concerns, Dropbox reaffirmed its commitment to building AI technologies “so that they’re as fair and reliable as possible.” Of course, the words of a corporation don’t carry the same weight as, say, an independent audit, but take them for what they’re worth.

“In this next era of AI, it’s more important than ever that we protect our customers’ privacy, act transparently, and limit bias in our AI technologies,” Dropbox wrote.

Dropbox Dash is currently available in English to select customers in beta. Dropbox AI for file previews is in Alpha, and available in the U.S. to all Dropbox Pro customers ahead of a rollout to select Dropbox Teams.

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