Box’s IPO has reportedly been pushed back after the recent cool-down for tech stocks.
News about trouble with Box’s IPO has been floating around on Secret, the anonymous app where people in the tech industry like to gossip.
According to some posts on Secret, Box was looking to sell. That turned out to be true, but it may not have been a serious shop around.
Fortune has learned from multiple sources that bankers — including at least one listed on Box’s IPO registration — have put out feelers to large tech companies about Box, but that those calls were not authorised by Box’s board of directors. Instead, they appear to be a bit of freelancers by underwriters in search of optionality.
Box co-founder and CEO Aaron Levie has stood down his board before when they wanted to sell. Those that know Levie say it was a growing-up moment for him.
That’s not to say, with only about a 4% vested stake, Levie couldn’t be pushed around by his board, particularly if the company’s need for cash puts its back against a wall. In March, an analysis of Box’s business showed that it was burning twice as much cash as any comparable public company.
Sam Hamadeh, CEO of PrivCo, a company that analyses private companies has a harsh assessment of Box. He says, “Box was not and is not ready for prime time for the IPO market, and it would have difficulty surviving in the wilderness of the public markets …
Box’s only realistic option is to sell the company.”
PrivCo is often knocked by people in startup community for being overly harsh on startups, but in this case he Hamadeh makes some fair points.
“Box was bleeding cash, could not seem to decide if it is a consumer app company or an enterprise software company, and has powerful competitors in Amazon, Google, Apple and others who were initiating a price war,” he says. “And Box simply cannot ever win a price war against rivals like those.”
Box is not commenting, citing the quiet period before the IPO. This is clearly driving Levie crazy.
When news broke about the IPO delay and rumoured sale, Levie tweeted:
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