Motorola Mobile CEO Woodside Moving to New Job at Dropbox

Dropbox needs the former Google exec to bring the startup to global scale, CEO Drew Houston tells eWEEK.

The man who championed the Moto G smartphone for Google's Motorola division is leaving one money-losing-but-high-potential operation to join another one at San Francisco-based cloud storage provider Dropbox.

Dennis Woodside, who served as CEO of Motorola Mobility at the tail end of an 11-year tenure at Google, will become Dropbox's first chief operating officer, working under CEO and co-founder Drew Houston, in a move that was first reported as in the works by the Wall Street Journal but confirmed by eWEEK Feb. 13.

The timing of the leadership change comes only two weeks after Google sold the Motorola Mobility unit to China's Lenovo for $2.91 billion after buying it 20 months earlier for $12.5 billion.

Previously, Google had sold off part of Motorola Mobility, Motorola Home, to Redwood City, Calif.-based cable equipment maker Arris for $2.35 billion in cash in December 2012.

Acquisition Had Puzzled Analysts From Get-Go

Google had owned the struggling handset maker since May 2012. The acquisition had puzzled analysts and industry watchers from the get-go because it threw Google into direct competition with highly regarded partners—such as Samsung, HTC and LG—who were already selling their own Android devices in competition with Motorola.

"We've long admired Dennis's leadership at Google and Motorola where he ran multi-billion dollar businesses and built amazing organizations around the world. We're so happy to welcome Dennis to our team—I can't imagine a better person to help us bring Dropbox to global scale," Houston told eWEEK via email.

Prior to joining Motorola Mobility, Woodside was Google's vice president of Americas Operations, managing the company's relationships with partners and advertising agencies. In the U.S. alone, Woodside and his team drove revenue from $10.8 billion to $17.5 billion in under three years. He also was the lead business partner for Google's advertising product development team, helping launch new ad products globally.

Woodside started his career at Google in 2003 leading investment across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. He was responsible for the overall go-to-market, product offering and acquisition strategies in these markets, which boasted a 20-fold increase during his tenure. Woodside also served as the managing director for United Kingdom, Benelux & Ireland operations, the largest international market for Google.

Dropbox Has New Funding

Last month, Dropbox landed a new $250 million venture capital investment in a new funding round that values the provider of online storage services at a whopping $10 billion. The San Francisco-based storage provider is expected to go public sometime this year, taking advantage of current high valuations for promising cloud-based service companies.

Dropbox, which claims to have about 200 million users, syncs files in cloud storage and enables Web-based access from multiple types of devices. The company offers limited amounts of storage free of charge to individual consumers, but in recent years it has focused more of its overall strategy on the enterprise market, which will pay handsomely for additional capacity and data protection features.

In November, it unveiled what it described as one of the most comprehensive upgrades to its service for businesses, including a feature that allows users to easily maintain both personal and corporate accounts.

Rival startup Box is also preparing to go public as early as this year. At its last funding round in December, Box was valued at $2 billion.

Reuters reported that Jonathan Rosenberg, former head of product management at Google, will become chief operating officer of Motorola Mobility, with responsibility for day-to-day management. Nikesh Arora, Google's chief business officer, will remain executive chairman of the Motorola Operating Board, overseeing strategy. Both will remain with the division through the takeover by Lenovo.

Lenovo said it is aware of Woodside's departure. "We are aware of this change, but we are absolutely committed to this acquisition, and remain completely confident in the Google and Motorola leadership team," a Lenovo spokesman said in an email to Reuters.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...