California cloud start-up Box looks to 2013 IPO

11 May 2012

Aaron Levie, co-founder and CEO of Box, in New York. Image by Box

Box, the cloud-based start-up that was spawned in 2005 from a college project, appears to be heading for an IPO in mid to late 2013.

Ranked the 36th fastest-growing company in North America in Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 last year, Box has been around since 2005.

In a story reminiscent of Facebook’s college dorm roots, Box was also launched from a college dorm room at the University of Southern California in 2005 when co-founders Aaron Levie and Dylan Smith were working on a college business project.

Email to Mark Cuban

It was Levie who decided to send an email to billionaire businessman and investor Mark Cuban on the fly, telling him about his free cloud storage vision and asking him to write about Box in his blog.

Well, the story goes that Cuban came right back at Levie, investing about US$350,000 in the start-up, convincing Levie to drop out of college to focus on the venture.

Freemium business model

The idea for Box was simple: looking to cloud computing, and using a freemium business model, the duo wanted to make it easier for people to access and share their content from anywhere.

Now, more than 120,000 businesses and 10m individuals are apparently using Box’s content-sharing platform. And the company employs more than 400 people at its Los Altos base in California.

Box has since gleaned investments from the likes of VC firms such as Andreessen Horowitz, Meritech Capital Partners, and Emergence Capital Partners. And in October of last year, the company raised US$81m in its Series D expansion round. The new investment rounded off Box’s total capital raised to US$162m.

In an interview with Reuters yesterday, Levie dismissed a 2012 IPO.

“It won’t be a 2012 exercise,” he said. “Even though the market is pretty amazing right now, there are some things we want to get done as a company. We see these moves as ways of building a strong foundation.”

And, as its vamps up its expansion efforts before the 2013 IPO, Box has added three new leadership positions at the company, including taking on the former Salesforce executive Tom Addis as its vice-president of enterprise sales.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic