It was just two weeks ago that fast-growing enterprise cloud storage company, Box, went out and acquired document embedding service and Y Combinator grad, Crocodoc. Apparently Aaron Levie sees what Yahoo is doing and he wants to show that Box is ready to do a little acquiring of its own.
Today, Box followed up with its second acquisition in as many weeks, scooping up the tech behind French mobile app and Box, Dropbox and Google Drive client for iOS, Folders. Developed by Martin Destagnol, Folders and its tech will be integrated into Box’s new iOS app, which is currently in development (now with support from Destagnol).
Again, Box already has a version of its storage service on the App Store, but like many other companies of its ilk, the service hasn’t necessarily been putting its best foot forward on mobile, so to speak. Folders, on the other hand, was developed by Destagnol exclusively for mobile and to simplify file-sharing and complementary functionality for users on the go. And it shows: Folders is a good-looking, elegant app. I say that in the creepiest way possible, obviously.
In its announcement today, Box revealed that it’s planning to release a new version of its iOS app “later this year,” and Folders’ design and optimizations appear to be a big part of the mobile revamp. Furthermore, the motivation behind the Folders (and Crocodoc) acquisitions is not only to upgrade mobile, but the big “impact they can have” on the overall “Box user experience.”
VP of Engineering Sam Schillace explains:
I’m a firm believer that even applications developed primarily for the enterprise, like Box, need to be pushing the leading edge for user experience and design. They have to be ‘consumer-grade’ in terms of their usability, simplicity, speed and performance. This definitely raises the bar for enterprise software design and engineering, but there’s no doubt that the higher standards are a big win for users and a massive opportunity for Box.
With the service now used by 15 million people at 150,000 businesses across healthcare, financial services and retail, the company is at a key point in its growth cycle. (Though who isn’t, let’s be honest.) Thanks to building enterprise software “that doesn’t suck” (it’s a low bar in enterprise, people), the company is moving across industries and will probably show up on the public markets in the next year or so.
Box has established itself, but in doing so, it’s now competing with the big boys, and although innovation in enterprise tends to move at the pace of a speeding glacier, the company has to keep pushing forward if it wants to take that next step. The consumerization of enterprise is nothing new at this point; companies and, more importantly, end users expect applications and services that are easy to use. That look familiar and “social.” Whatever that means.
Levie is a champion of this new generation of usable, consumer-friendly enterprise tech, so Box needs to lead there. And, at this point, there’s nothing that embodies the consumerization movement better than mobile and the BYOD trend. Box has to work (and look) better on mobile than the old set of Enterprise leaders.
When we saw Folders we saw a beautiful experience and set of design patterns that we had to bring to Box’s users. Adding the Folders technology and Martin’s expertise to Box will help us to continue to improve how people collaborate and engage with their content on Post-PC devices. In the near term, Box for iOS will become cleaner, faster and more beautiful throughout 2013.