What a difference a decade makes.
Just 10 years ago, a little startup called Box premiered with the idea that it could make a business out of storing people’s documents on servers they don’t have to maintain, otherwise known as the cloud.
Now, Box (BOX) is a public company that boasts over 40 million users and roughly 50,000 business customers, CEO Aaron Levie said on Tuesday at his company’s annual conference in San Francisco.
With the influx of customers, Box has been moving away from only being a document storage repository. Now, the company pushing to become a service for editing those stored files too, turning Box into a sort of centralized business work hub.
To reinforce the notion that the company is no longer the small startup it once was, executives from Microsoft (MSFT), IBM (IBM), and Kaiser Permanente took to the stage to tell the audience how they used Box or integrated its technology with their own software.
Even Apple CEO Tim Cook showed up to talk about Box’s relationship with Apple (AAPL) and its own push into the enterprise.
Levie and other Box executives showed off new features, like an upgraded video player for businesses to share and watch videos, the ability for healthcare companies to share and edit medical images like X-rays, and support for 3D images.
For example, Tesla (TSLA) is a Box customer that uses the service to work on 3D images of its electric cars. To drive the point home, Box showed off a 3D model of Tesla’s Model X SUV during the presentation.
Box also rolled out an iOS-specific mobile app for workers to take pictures and immediately share the images with colleagues. The fact that the app is built specifically for Apple mobile devices underscores how Box believes that partnering with Apple could win more customers as more workers use their personal iPhones and iPads in the office.
Levie explained that Box could not have gotten to where it’s at without the help of the companies that it’s partnered with, and he singled out Microsoft as a prime example. Five years ago, no one would have imagined Box working with Microsoft, a once closed-off company that didn’t believe in cooperation. Levie showed off an old Photoshopped imaged of former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer adorned in pirate attire to poke fun at that image.
But Microsoft’s new CEO, Satya Nadella, has partnered with Box, which Levie celebrated by showing a Photoshopped image of Nadella with a halo over his head.
Tech analysts have slammed Box in the past for overspending on sales and marketing as it tries to expand, and that’s likely to remain a concern for some time. In its latest earnings report, Box said that it spent over 80% of quarterly revenue on sales and marketing.
That’s a lot of cash used to get the word about Box. Perhaps after a few more partnerships, Box won’t need to spend so much money on getting its name out.
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