When we sat down to start our meal, little did I know that the next couple of hours would change my perception of Box as it announced plans to open its European HQ in London. Here are the four nuggets of wisdom that I took home.¶
Don't call Box a storage company.
As Whitney Tidmarsh Bouck, the GM of Box Enterprise puts it, the company moved beyond storage a long time ago and now considers itself a content management system (but not à la Wordpress). Instead, Box chose to put content at the core of its offerings and built compelling features on top, such as collaboration, sharing or security tools, to name but a few. Sure, dishing out free storage will remain the company's most effective way of acquiring new customers but, as Whitney stressed, times have changed with the arrival of iCloud, SkyDrive and GoogleDrive.
I was intrigued by a statement by Aaron Levie , the company's CEO and co-founder, relaying the fact that Box uses the open source search engine, Lucene/Solr, to provide Enterprise grade search capabilities to its clients. Search is only one facet of Lucense/Solr's wide ranging capabilities and its use could indicate Box's intention to leverage the open source community at large. It seems Box is aiming to become a "big data" company by empowering customers with the tools to make sense of the petabytes of data in the cloud.
Box's next growth area is Asia.
Box's first GM for its EMEA offices comes straight from the US and will help create, stabilise and expand the company's presence in the region for the next two years. Aaron let slip that Asia would be the next major market to address with a local presence. The US still represents 80 per cent of Box's total revenue, but the company is keen to look elsewhere in order to maintain its growth, which currently stands at around 300 per cent per annum. And it looks like that same GM will have to pack up his bags in a couple of years for that long journey to Asia - assuming that the EMEA setup is ticking over smoothly by then.
Box could be the next AWS. Probably
Through OneCloud, Box is looking to rope in partners like Adobe and Autodesk to create an ecosystem. There's already an application directory containing official Box Apps. What's more Box has its own data servers and Levie spoke of "a mini content delivery network" that the company plans to implement in the medium term (by 2014) globally. Ultimately, Box wants to be a platform-agnostic ecosystem that's both scalable, flexible and open. Very similar to what Amazon is doing with Web Services.