Box.net Moves Beyond Storage In The Cloud; Adds File Syncing To The Mix

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Cloud-based storage and sharing application Box.net is getting into the syncing game today. The startup is unveiling Box Sync, an extension of the Box.net platform that connects users’ desktops to Box.net’s cloud-based content management and collaboration platform.

With the Box Sync desktop client, users can sync Box.net folders with their desktops. The new feature is intended to help businesses allows employees to seamlessly sync and share content. The startup is essentially trying to bridge the desktop and the cloud with Box Sync.

The Box Sync app is a downloadable desktop client that lets users sync selected Box.net folders. The feature alerts collaborators when files are created or updated, and incorporates real-time updates in users’ activity feeds. Box Sync will free to Box business users. The one drawback is that Box Sync is only available for Windows at the moment and, with Mac OS and Linux platforms in the works.

The Box platform is seeing significant traction in its war against Microsoft SharePoint, serving 1.5 million files daily and 1.5 billion to date. With 4 million users, Box.net is growing rapidly for a startup that only launched a few years ago.

With this syncing application, Box now contends with a number of other worthy competitors in the syncing space, including SugarSync and ZumoDrive. And in terms of strategy, syncing is one more capability that breaks down the barriers between the desktop and the web. A few weeks ago, Box added HTML5-based drag and drop functionality.

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 the startup just raised $15 million in funding.

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