Not every commencement speaker needs a cheesy message about the intangible benefits of a liberal arts degree to inspire graduates. Sometimes, simply describing the beauty of a massive bank balance will do the trick.
Dropbox Founder Drew Houston did just that when he delivered the commencement speech at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology earlier this year. Houston, who is himself a graduate of the university, described the complex feelings that arose as he watched his company’s account transform from rags to riches before his eyes.
Houston recalled the moment when, as a 24-year-old, he saw the balance jump to $1.2 million from $60 after constantly refreshing the company's online banking statement. The sudden influx of cash was the result of Dropbox's first round of funding from investors, and he told graduates the transfer wasn't without anxiety:
At first I was ecstatic — that number has two commas in it! I took a screenshot — but then I was sick to my stomach. Someday these guys are going to want this back. What the hell have I gotten myself into?
Houston later posted a screenshot of that account to Rap Genius, a site that allows users to annotate various texts online. Although the $60 balance is not viewable, you can see that a $830,205.000 wire transfer pushed the balance up to just $830,379.45:
Dropbox is worth about $4 billion these days, according to Forbes.