Box Looks to New York, Boston, and Seattle for Innovation and Collaboration

5/3/12Follow @jpruth

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Lua Technologies, a member of this spring’s NYC TechStars class. Lua’s cloud-based platform is used to schedule crews for entertainment production companies. “We have an entertainment launch coming up in the next few months,” Yeh says. “They fit into part of what we want to accomplish from a go-to-market point of view.”

Box is looking to other innovation hubs beyond New York for technology development, talent, and potential new offices. Yeh says the company spent time in Boston as sponsor of the angelHack hackathon in March. “We like that community,” he says, “There are a lot of interesting companies that come out of there.” Box’s first four employees are natives of Seattle and the company may recruit technical personnel from that city as well. “Eventually I could see another engineering office as you have seen from Zynga, Facebook, Google and others,” Levie says. “That’s a bit further out in the timeline.” The company is also looking overseas to London for a possible European beachhead.

While Box is exploring these potential opportunities, the file-sharing market is seeing new heavyweights get in on the action. Google introduced its file-sharing service called Google Drive on April 24, which stirred some question of how a growing company such as Box could survive in the face of rival with near-bottomless pockets.

Levie maintained his cool reserve. “We’re flattered that Google decided to come into our space after us doing this for seven years,” he says. The growth of such competition, Levie says, validates the technology, but his company differentiates itself with its focus on enterprise. While Google Drive and other rivals such as Dropbox lean toward small-to-midsize businesses and individual users, Box aims for everything from small businesses to enterprise customers. “Ultimately, our competition is going to come from products like [Microsoft’s] SharePoint and on-premise infrastructure companies,” Levie says.

Upheaval is nothing new for this market. Levie notes that the players in the file-sharing space have changed significantly since Box launched. “The two primary incumbents in 2005 were Yahoo Briefcase and [AOL's] Xdrive,” he says. The status quo did not last long. In 2009, Yahoo shut down Briefcase and AOL also pulled the plug on Xdrive. “We’ve moved to a market where Microsoft, Google, and Apple all have significant plays in this space,” Levie says.

Levie says part of his goal is to call more attention to the innovation happening in his sector. “It takes events, education, and partnerships with incubators to highlight how much disruption and value creation there is going to be in the enterprise software world,” he says. Box believes that push will increase general awareness about markets that are gradually developing their enterprise software ecosystems. “New York is primarily known for its consumer tech and media tech,” Levie says. “We want to put a spotlight on the development going on [in enterprise software] in New York. There is a lot.”

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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