Box’s proxy fight shows an unattractive side of the Valley

An ongoing battle with investor Starboard Value is indicative of the incessant demand for growth and profitability

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Activist investor Starboard Value this week stepped up its harrying of cloud content management firm Box by advocating four candidates to sit on the company’s board. The move adds to pressure on Box after co-founder and CEO Aaron Levie stood down from his chairman position earlier this year and now sees even his presence on the board challenged. The scenario provides yet another illustration of the complexities of life on the public markets.

Starboard, known for its attempts to increase the worth of what it sees as “deeply undervalued” companies, took a position in Box two years ago and remains unhappy about the company’s performance. Most recently its ire has been drawn by what it perceives as its failure to capitalise on the shift, accelerated by Covid-19, to working from home. This is a market change that appears to operate in favour of companies like Box that use the cloud as a flexible way to store and collaborate on files.

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