Box Opens Up, Stretches Out to Reign in Collaboration

The fast-talking phenomenon is sprinting to lead the way in next-generation document platforms

Box, the startup that has Silicon Valley in a tizzy, today provided a status update, detailing upgrades to its administration console, synchronisation, policy and automation tools, and content management offerings, as well as adding Chevron, Safeway and Pearson to its 200,000-strong customer roster. Box also detailed a new dedicated consulting services wing and a partnership with Capgemini to foster best practices. The company’s stratospheric progress is being fuelled by a cash-stuffed war-chest with $100m being added this week.

The product upgrades are significant: Box’s hyper-growth is being driven in large part by its promise to make sense of the spaghetti-like complexity of document file formats, versions and so on, and then simplify the sharing of information to trusted staff and partners. Security, manageability and process automation are likely to be areas that separate the winners from the losers here.

“The first wave was departmental usage and targeted savings against specific areas,” said David Quantrell, Box’s EMEA senior VP. “What we’re seeing now is Box being adopted at enterprise scale and around the world and not just in the marketing department but across the business. We have great sync-and-share product but what [buyers] are more focused on is the platform for agile collaboration and content sharing.”

Quantrell added that Box is moving at speed to integrate services from recent acquisitions such as Crocodoc’s HTML5 capabilities and mobile storage firm Folders. But what more of us would like to know is how the bigger race will be run. Box is stupendously well funded but its competition comes from all angles. Below it are less well-funded but seemingly sharply focused companies like Egnyte and Hightail, to its side is the similarly VC-endowed Dropbox, and above it are behemoths old and new, Microsoft and Google.

Increasingly, it seems that Dropbox versus Box will be a shoot-out for de facto standard status in the category. What’s less clear is how much longer the giants will tolerate the nibbling away at the edges of their businesses.

IPOs, company sales, ever more brash marketing, M&A, crippling (crash and) burn rates… expect plenty of drama as the fresh princes of the cloud era spend and party like its 1999.


Martin Veitch is Editorial Director at IDG Connect