Online storage company Box.net will announce today that it has taken $1.5 million in Series A funding from Draper Fisher Jurvetson and has crossed the 500,000 registered user number. The funding was already known about after it was included in an SEC filing in August.
Box.net previously received angel funding from a variety of people, including most notably Mark Cuban. (Update: Box.net bought out Cuban’s share of the company when they received this round of funding.) The company seeks to differentiate itself from the long list of other online storage services by positioning itself for collaboration. Multiple subusers can access a shared collaboration area, something that’s particularly appealing to SMB customers. The number of SMB customers relative to total paid customers appears to be about 25 to 30%.
Five hundred thousand registered users is a good number for a start up company that’s only seven months old. Box.net wouldn’t publicy state how many of those users are active and paid, which I find very frustrating. StreamLoad, an older company in the same space, says it has 4 million total users and will disclose that 25,000 of them have paid accounts. (In fact, that’s a number from several months ago and now that the company has entered into a number of big partnerships they no longer disclose paid user numbers.) Box.net has a much lower number of total accounts, but a significantly higher percentage of its accounts are paid. Streamload provides 25 GB of storage to free account holders, Box.net free accounts provide 1 GB of storage.
While Streamload has landed a number of B2B partnerships lately, Box.net highlights third party uses of its API to allow file access from inside sites like Netvibes. The company has provided group access to stored media files for events like BlogHer and Billboard’s “Mecca” event. Steve Rubel wrote last night about how challenged Tour De France winner Floyd Landis is also taking his legal and PR defense public by sharing legal documents in a publicly available box.net archive.
Box.net is a simple enough service to use that has a clear strategy (partnerships and collaboration), VC backing and a reasonable if ambiguous conversion rate from free to paid accounts. They probably stand a decent chance in the upcoming online storage wars.