Box CEO Aaron Levie and COO Dan Levin say IPO is on the cards
Enterprise cloud storage specialist Box has said that although an Initial Public Offering (IPO) was part of its near-term plans, it was happy with its current position and was keen to continue its rapid growth while maintaining the same start-up atmosphere.
Speaking at Boxworks 2013 in San Francisco last week, Box CEO Aaron Levie said an IPO was definitely part of the company’s roadmap, which he would not discuss, and added “our long-term goal is to be an independent, public company.”
His view was reiterated by COO Dan Levin, who told TechWeekEurope he was “incredibly pleased” with the development of Box as a business.
“We’ve got an amazing group of people and a stellar leadership team,” he said. “At an appropriate time, becoming a public company is undoubtedly the right thing for Box to do, but it will just be another step on the road to creating the next great enterprise software company.”
This includes further international expansion. Having already opened an office in London, Levie said Box was now looking towards other markets, such as Japan, Brazil and Australia: “That’s going to continue to accelerate and be a major area of investment.”
Such growth has been typical of Box, but Levin said Box was keen to maintain the jovial but focussed atmosphere that had been cultivated at the company, even though he admitted it had been forced to make some changes.
“Inevitably larger organisations run in a somewhat different way to smaller organisations,” he explained. “We’re global now, it’s not like we can get everyone who matters together in a room in Palo Alto and make decisions.”
One way of doing this is by acquiring other startups to continue the “entrepreneurial” spirit at Box and bring new ideas into the company. Box has so far acquired three companies, including Crocodocs and Folders, and integrated their technologies into its own products.
“It’s possible to buy technology just for the technology, but these days it’s increasingly rare. Usually what you’re after is somebody who has got an approach to solving a problem,” said Levin, who spent 13 years involved with startups before he joined Box.
But he said this did not mean Box was incapable of innovating from within. Of the four major product announcements it made at Boxworks, two were developed internally and two were created by acquisitions.
“We still have a very innovative internal development capability, but if we see the opportunity to acquire some technology and some people that fit in with our vision, we don’t hesitate to do that.
“I think they key to innovation and creativity is the diversity of perspective, mindsets, approaches and backgrounds. We’ve hired some amazing people from some big companies, we’ve hired some amazing people right out of school and we’ve hired some amazing people through acquisitions.”
One of the more seasoned industry veterans at Box is former Windows president Steven Sinofsky, who recently joined as an advisor. Levin said it worked with a number of external advisors and used his experience of working on Microsoft Office in its attempts to create the next generation of productivity and collaboration tools.
“A big piece of what Steven does is to imagine what the future will look like and there’s also a big piece about helping us how we can run the company as effectively as possible in the pursuit of that vision,” said Levin.
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