San Francisco, CA

San Francisco Stocks in Q1: Dropbox, DocuSign, Upwork.

Geoffrey Greer

Robinhood for life

Image from Dropbox

How has your financial situation changed during Covid? After a sharp drop in stock prices during Q1 of last year, the market has been booming. Major stock market indices, like the S&P 500, are up more than 70% from the March lows.

To bring you up to speed on San Francisco companies, here is an update on three public companies located in the area: Dropbox, DocuSign, and Upwork. All three of these companies are at the center of the accelerated move to business software that has taken place because of Covid. Dropbox makes it easy to share business documents; DocuSign makes it easy to sign business documents; and Upwork makes it easy to assemble a "just-in-time" workforce.


Dropbox was started in 2007 by MIT graduate Drew Houston who continues to helm the company. Dropbox had a solid year in 2020 and continues to do well in 2021 as this chart shows:

Screenshot by author

Here is what has been happening at Dropbox recently:

  • Dropbox completed its acquisition of DocSend for $165M. DocSend makes it easy to share secure documents. With everyone working from home, this is a strategic and timely acquisition. DocSend competes with DocuSign, the next company on this list. Given that DocuSign is not just bigger than DocSend but bigger than Dropbox, this could turn out to catalyze the next stage of growth for Dropbox.
  • Dropbox continues to grow its revenue by 10%-20% every quarter. The company guided investors to 11% growth in Q1.
  • Dropbox announced a very large stock repurchase plan in Q1.


DocuSign was started in 2003 so, for an Internet company, it has a long history. I use DocuSign several times a month when companies send me contracts to sign. It allows me to quickly and easily sign documents electronically.

DocuSign is down this year after booming last year:

Screenshot by author

Here is the latest news:

  • DocuSign's stock price charged up last year as use skyrocketed during Covid. More people working from home means more people needing to sign documents electronically using eSignature which is how DocuSign makes its money. DocuSign benefited from the "less real estate, more software" trend that Covid accelerated.
  • DocuSign is seeing astronomical growth rates of 35%+ every quarter. This is expected to continue in Q1. We are not going back to manual paperwork even after Covid is over.
  • San Francisco and Silicon Valley companies are slowly returning to work but many have announced they will never return to the "everyone in the office 5 days a week" culture of years past. Many employees are being allowed to work from home permanently and, at some companies, employees will be allowed to work from home 2-3 days per week permanently. This shift in the office culture benefits DocuSign.


Upwork was born of a merger between Elance and oDesk. After going public, Upwork continues to climb in 2021 after soaring in 2020:

Here is some of the key news from Upwork:

  • Upwork faces steep competition. Setting up a marketplace for freelancers is easy. Competitors like Fiverr, which went public in 2019, are also doing extremely well, posing a long-term threat to Upwork. Even LinkedIn is rumored to be launching a similar service. As competition increases, there is a danger that Upwork will not be able to maintain margins.
  • Upwork revenue is expected to increase approximately 30% this year.
  • The cost of Internet advertising has been very volatile over the past year. On the one hand, companies cut down advertising spend. On the other hand, customers spent much more time surfing the Internet since they were working from home. Overall, costs dropped. But as the world returns to normal so will advertising rates and this will place pressure on Upwork's profits.

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