Cloud storage and document sharing startup Box.net is announcing significant news today: the startup has just raised $15 million on Series C funding led by Scale Venture Partners, with existing investors Draper Fisher Jurvetson and U.S. Venture Partners participating. This brings Box.net’s total venture funding to $29.5 million. As part of the deal, Rory O’Driscoll, Managing Director with Scale Venture Partners, has joined Box.net’s Board of Directors. The startup’s CEO and co-founder Aaron Levie did not disclose the valuation for the round but said the funding would be used for building out the platform further and for hiring staff in the company’s sales and engineering divisions.
Since its launch in 2005, Box.net has steadily been growing its cloud-based content management system, and has now accumulated more than 4 million users, with hundreds of thousands of businesses using the application. And the startup is seeing top line growth, with a 500% rise in revenue from 2008 to 2009, and a record first quarter – up 300% from Q1 2009 – thanks to deals with the Oprah Winfrey Network, Volvo, and Nokia Siemens are using Box.net (Box declined to give us exact revenue numbers).
And Box.net has made its abundantly clear on who its sees as its main competitor: Microsoft’s content management application SharePoint. If you’ve has driven on the U.S. 101, you may have seen the billboard ad Box.net had displayed prominently last summer on the stretch between San Francisco and Silicon Valley. The ad asked SharePoint users to try Box.net with the promise that if they didn’t prefer Box, the startup would foot the bill for three months of SharePoint. And in February, the startup posted the billboard displayed below:
You get the picture. So is Box eating away at Sharepoint’s marketshare? Levie seems to think so. He tells me that that Box is capitalizing on the trend of the “consumerification of the enterprise.” Levie says that the social, collaborative nature of Box and the interconnectivity of Box.net’s management platform makes it simple for enterprise users to essentially use the application from beyond the office walls, and across all kinds of applications and devices.
There are a variety of ways Box is accomplishing this vast level of integration for its users. Box.net launched integrations with the recently launched Google Apps Marketplace, with Salesforce.com, with LinkedIn, and other business applications. Box also launched a new version of its iPhone application, that integrates with QuickOffice, and just a few days ago brought its content management platform to the iPad with what appears to be an innovative Box App for the device. And Box’s mobile strategy won’t be Apple-exclusive; the startup is developing an Android app at the moment.
Plus, Box is working to improve the collaborative capabilities of its platform. Last Fall, Box acquired Increo Solutions, the makers of the Backboard and embedit.in products, in order to integrate the collaboration and annotation functionality from Backboard. The company also launched an integrated Flash file viewer earlier this year that allows users to immediately view over 20 file types from their browser, including most common document formats, images (including Photoshop), audio, and video.
After starting as a college business project in 2005, Box was officially launched in March of 2006 with the vision of connecting people, devices and networks. Box provides more than 8 million users with secure cloud content management and collaboration. They say their platform “allows personal and commercial content to be accessible, sharable, and storable in any format from anywhere”.