Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that the company was raising a new round at a $1.2 billion valuation. (After the article came out, TechCrunch’s Rip Empson asked co-founder and CEO Aaron Levie, “Are these hella wicked crazy rumors true, Aaron? You really let workers store and access documents on the Web?” To which Levie replied, “Bro, you know we can’t comment on speculation about how businesses use our product to enable the sharing and access of information anywhere.”)
Levie isn’t disclosing the valuation, except to say that it represents “some nice growth from last year,” when Box raised an $81 million round at what we heard was a valuation of more than $600 million.
Box claims it’s now working with more than 120,000 businesses, as well as individuals at 92 percent of the Fortune 500.
Levie says the new money will go towards “three key investment areas.” The first is just “continuing the momentum of what we’ve been doing.” The second is international growth — companies outside the United States currently make up about 20 percent of Box’s customer base, and Levie says that number should be more like 40 percent. And the third is building tools that will make Box more appealing to large enterprises. (The company started out and is still available as a consumer product, but it has focused in recent years on selling to businesses.)
More broadly, Levie paints a picture of an enterprise software market that’s in a period of dramatic change, thanks to the confluence of mobile, social, and cloud technologies. With the shift from main frames to minicomputers, then from minicomputers to PCs, the addressable market for enterprise companies keeps growing, he says, and that’s continuing with the shift to the “post-PC enterprise.” (One of the company’s most recent launches was of Box OneCloud, a platform for enterprise mobile apps that integrate with Box.)
“These kinds of changes happen every decade or so,” Levie says.
General Atlantic operating partner Gary Reiner, formerly the CIO at General Electric, is joining Box’s board of directors. Previous investors Bessemer Venture Partners, DFJ Growth, New Enterprise Associates, SAP Ventures, and Scale Venture Partners also participated in the round, as did a new investor, the Social + Capital Partnership.
The company has now raised more than $280 million. It actually still has half the money from the last round in the bank, Levie says, and the new funding puts Box “in a strong position to never raise privately again.” (Though he also cautions that it’s “impossible to say never.”) Asked what this means about the chances of a long-rumored IPO, he says there are elements of the company’s strategy, like investing heavily in international growth and “deep technology”, that Box has “more latitude” to do as a private company.
“I think you can take this as a sign that we’re focused on really building a strong independent company,” he says. “This affords us the opportunity to do that privately for now.”