Photo: Matt Rosoff Business Insider
Enterprise startup Box is growing up.The company just moved into a spacious new office with more than enough room for its 400 employees, and while it’s got plenty of whimsical touches like stuffed unicorns and a two-story spiral tube slide, the company is getting serious about reaching more enterprise customers.
CEO Aaron Levie explained that as Box has always focused on simplicity and sharing — after all, the company’s entire purpose is to help employees share information more easily.
But as it has started to move into larger enterprises, it’s running into more requests from CIOs for tighter security. There’s a natural tension there — Levie told us some companies ask if they can use Box just for information storage, not for employee sharing, which kind of defeats the whole purpose.
That’s not going to happen, but one big area of focus is letting IT departments manage and control access to data, regardless of what platform users are employing — Windows PCs, iPads, Android phones, or whatever.
This is a complicated challenge, and the platform vendors like Microsoft and Apple aren’t going to do a good job addressing it, because they’d rather companies standardize on their platforms alone. So Box is working on a cross-platform management layer that will work not only with files stored in Box, but also with information stored in other business systems. (That’s all he’d say — more details to come later.)
Levie also told us that Box is making a big play for “vertical” industries like government and finance — which are bound by all kinds of regulations and require strict access control and data security. It’s hired sales experts in these fields, and will probably be opening satellite offices in Washington and New York, as well as internationally.
But that doesn’t mean Box is turning into Oracle or Microsoft. The company is also making a serious play for the entertainment industry.
In fact, Levie originally wanted to make movies, and while he’s glad he didn’t go that route, he knows enough about the business to see an opportunity there.
For instance, he pointed out that talent agencies are never going to use a regular ERP system that tracks inventory and sales — their assets are people, the talent and the agents handling them. The information about that talent comes in a lot of different formats, from video rolls to movie proposals to contracts. Box is perfect for storing and accessing that kind of unstructured data.
As far as movies go, his recent favourite is “Chronicle,” a tale of paranormal activity made by two filmmakers who are about Levie’s age — in their late 20s.