A lot of things can change in a few months — including the way you view a once-rival’s business.
That’s been the case with Jeetu Patel, former CEO of Box rival Syncplicity, who joined Box in August as CSO and VP of platform.
Back in January, Patel questioned Box’s all-cloud solution, pointing out its lack of choice in storage options.
“We believe that customers should have a choice as to where they store their content,” Patel said in an interview with CMS Wire back in January.
Syncplicity’s core product is a “hybrid” storage solution, where users have the choice to simultaneously store files both online (“cloud”) and in their own data centres (“on-premise”). Box, on the other hand, has always been cloud-only, meaning files are all stored in Box’s public cloud — which has raised security concerns in more regulated industries.
But speaking at BoxWorks, Box’s big annual conference, on Tuesday, Patel did a complete 180 and sounded more excited about Box’s cloud-only solution than ever.
“The cloud is here to stay,” Patel told Business Insider. “I would say that you’ll have 95% of the market get comfortable with the cloud, but you’ll always have some stragglers that say, ‘I want to stay on-premise.'”
So why the sudden change of heart?
“I didn’t realise it until I started speaking with Box customers,” Patel said, noting how even the most security conscious companies are starting to use Box because of its robust security features. “We’re finding the financial services and healthcare are among our most successful industries.”
Patel stressed that Box has been adding new security features such as full control over encryption keys and more governance over files. As a result, big enterprises like GE, Raymond James, and Eli Lily are all major customers of Box, he said.
“Box is thinking about this in a different scale,” Patel added. “It’s something I didn’t realise when I was not at Box.”
Building a platform
But the bigger reason Patel decided to join Box was his shared vision with Box CEO Aaron Levie to create a massive platform, where people use Box not just as a standalone app but also as a place to build their own apps.
In fact, one of the big announcements to come out of BoxWorks was a new product called Box Platform, where companies can buy a “white-label” version of Box and plug it into their own app,s essentially making it part of its app structure.
For example, Raymond James uses Box to store files in its own investor portal. Investors share files and comments without really knowing they’re using Box’s platform.
“Aaron and I are very aligned in our thinking, which is, platform is our biggest opportunity moving forward,” Patel said. “If he hadn’t believed in it as he did, then I wouldn’t have joined Box.”
Box is certainly growing, but there have been a lot of question marks surrounding its business, which at one point was spending nearly twice its revenue on sales and marketing. The public market hasn’t been too friendly either, as its shares have been trading below its $US14 IPO price for weeks now. Gartner also points out Box’s lack of a “hybrid” solution as a potential weakness moving forward.
But that doesn’t seem to worry Patel, a 20-year veteran in the enterprise software space. “This is a highly undervalued company in my mind, compared to what the opportunity is,” he said, circling back to Box’s future as a platform. “You can work with Box regardless of what application you’re working in, and that would fundamentally change the way people start using it.”
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