But several shareholders have recently written down the value of their investments in the cloud storage company while it cut costs and focused on generating more revenue.

Drew Houston, Dropbox's chief executive officer, now declares that we're "entering the post-unicorn era."

Unicorn startups, those valued at $1 billion or more, will need to focus on creating healthier businesses as venture capital and other sources of private-market funds dry up, he said Tuesday onstage at the Bloomberg Technology Conference in San Francisco.

"Cash is oxygen, and if you keep having to go to investors to fill up your scuba tank, you can run out."

As competition for funding intensifies, many other private U.S. technology companies are using less conventional or convoluted financial barometers to demonstrate the health of their businesses to the public.

Dropbox has increased sales to businesses and consumers, Houston said.

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