Box.net Creates “News Feed” for Business Documents in the Cloud, Takes On Microsoft in Collaborative Software

9/28/10Follow @wroush

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how to build their own systems to make cloud-based sharing more powerful, all of which gives more options to Box.net users.

“Since then, we have done some amazing integrations with LinkedIn, SAP Streamworks, SugarCRM—all brand-new use cases that we didn’t initially anticipate,” says Levie. The iPad app itself, built entirely using data streams already available through Box.net’s API, was another such case. “It’s nothing that a third-party developer couldn’t do,” says Levie.

And Box.net’s enthusiasm for mobile platforms goes beyond the iPad. There’s an iPhone version, and last week the company released a sharing app tailored for Android phones. “If this stuff was all stuck on SharePoint, it would never be accessible on your iPhone or Android device,” says Levie. “But because it’s in the cloud, your phone with its 16 gigabytes of storage has access to hundreds of gigabytes of files.”

Box.net is far from qualifying as a form of social media. But it’s clear from recently introduced features, such as the updates tab on the company’s browser-based interface, that the developers behind the service are steeped in the culture of Facebook. “This is effectively a news feed for your content,” Levie explains. “We have 100 employees, so we have 100 different people creating new presentations, uploading new documents, and creating new contexts for existing documents. To be able to show all of that in real time to the relevant people is really powerful for building a more open and connected enterprise. That’s an area we are going to continue to invest in over the next year—making the service more intelligent and more social and enabling you to connect to more people in your business.”

It’s not clear to me whether the average office worker really needs to be updated every time a colleague tweaks his latest PowerPoint presentation. But it seems inevitable that lessons about sharing and collaboration from the Facebook age will rub off on the modern workplace. To hear Levie tell it, companies in Silicon Valley are simply a little farther ahead on the curve.

“I think we are very early in the cycle of adoption of these tools,” Levie says. “Being in Silicon Valley, we have a head start, and better visibility into what’s coming. With Box, we started the business in 2005, when you could already basically run most of your company in the cloud. So we got to build out a structure that could leverage the cloud infrastructure in every possible way. Most businesses have yet to catch up to that. A lot of innovation is still left to come, and we hope that Box can be a major part of that.”

Wade Roush is Xconomy's chief correspondent and editor of Xconomy San Francisco. You can subscribe to his Google Group or e-mail him at wroush@xconomy.com. Follow @wroush

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