Box co-founder and chief executive Aaron Levie briefing journalists and analysts in London this week
Cloud storage incumbent Box announced a slew of new customers this week as the company, which was recently taken public, continues to nudge its balance sheet into the black. Despite strong competition in the segment and the added pressure that comes with being a public company Box continues to differentiate from both traditional and non-traditional competition, said co-founder and chief executive officer Aaron Levie.
Box announced this week it had inked large deployment deals with home and body cosmetics brand Rituals Cosmetics, the University of Dundee and Lancaster University, which cumulatively total close to 50,000 new seats on the cloud storage and collaboration platform.
“You’re seeing all of this disruption from new devices, new employees entering the workforce, new ways of working, new customer and consumer expectations about how they want to interact with your services. Customers really have to go digital with their enterprises,” said Levie said.
“From the inside, companies need to get more collaborative, move more quickly, make decisions faster, be able to have better technology for the workforce. It also means you’re going to have all new digital experiences to create your products, and offer an omnichannel customer experience – if you’re in retail, healthcare, this will drive fundamentally new business models.”
The company said it now has over 34 million users and 45,000 organisations globally using its service, with those companies belonging to a broad range of sectors – transportation, logistics utilities, healthcare, retail, the charity sector, and many more.
It’s planning a big push into Europe. Its UK office its fastest growing outfit with over 140 employees, and it recently hired former Microsoft cloud sales exec Jeremy Grinbaum to lead the company’s commercial expansion efforts in France and southern Europe. It’s also looking to deploy international datacentres to power its services outside the US within the next 12 to 18 months.
One of the big areas it’s trying to break into is financial services. The company recently introduced Box for Financial Services as part of its Box for Industries offerings, a growing portfolio of vertically-integrated cloud-based storage and collaboration platforms that bake industry-specific data management, security capabilities and workflow management requirements right into the service.
“Financial services has been slower to adopt the cloud, mostly because of an unclear regulatory environment,” Levie told BCN. “We’ve been working with financial services customers around the regulatory and compliance aspect, and with our encryption key technology we’ve gotten much farther along in terms of giving financial services firms the ability to adhere to their data security controls.”
Levie said the company has recently had some fairly big wins in the financial services space – none that he can mention publicly yet, of course – but some of the company’s customers in the sector already include US AA, US Bank, and T. Rowe Price to name a few.
Box for Industries (it already offers Box for Healthcare and Box for Retail) is central to how the company intends to differentiate itself among a growing sea of competitors – that, and its security investments. Levie said Box is more enterprise-y than Dropbox, widely viewed as one of its largest competitors, and more vertically-integrated than UK-based Huddle. But when asked about competition from non-traditional competitors like banks, some of which are using their substantial datacentre, security and digital service UX investments to provide their own cloud-based storage services to customers, he said he sees Box as more of a partner than rival.
The company recently launched Box Developer Edition, a software development kit that lets partners and customers use APIs to integrate Box’s technology into their own applications, Levie said banks can become Box partners and effectively white label its offering.
“Box ends up being a natural back-end service in that process. So instead of them having to build out all of the infrastructure, manage all the systems and then essentially recreate what our hundreds of engineers are doing,” he said. “The value proposition for [banks] is going to be the digital experience that allows them to interact with their customers.”