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云存储新秀Box.net获得4800万美元投资

Michal Lev-Ram 2011年03月01日

Andreessen Horowitz等风投机构的最新投资清楚地表明,基于互联网的企业级软件新创公司正风生水起。

    早在2005年,亚伦•莱维和狄伦•史密斯怀揣11000美元积蓄以及并不太吸引人的创业点子从大学退学,创立了一家名为Box.net的在线存储与协作服务公司。上周四,这家新创公司宣布,在第4轮融资中筹集到4800万美元巨款。

    此次数额不菲的投资意味着基于互联网的企业级软件新创公司开始兴起。Box是一家文件存储与协作公司,该公司表示其用户数量已超过500万,其中包括思科系统(Cisco Systems)、戴尔(Dell)和梦工厂动画(DreamWorks Animation SKG)等企业。Box所提供的初级版服务是免费的,能让用户在线存储和分享文件。该公司向付费用户提供更大的存储空间以及更佳的安全性能等额外功能,费用为每月15美元。

    Box位于加州帕洛阿尔托市,目前为止,该公司已募集到7750万美元投资。其最新一轮投资的牵头者为风投公司Meritech Capital Partners,参与投资的还有Andreessen Horowitz和Emergence Capital Partners等公司。

    那么Box将如何支配这笔新收到的巨款?(Box联合创始人兼首席执行官,现年26岁的莱维在一次采访中开玩笑说,他最后会去买一部游艇)。根据Box上周四上午发布的一份新闻稿,该公司将利用此次投资,在未来18个月里把140人的员工队伍扩充一倍。Box还计划将更多的资源投入移动平台、提高国际影响力并成立自己的企业营销团队。

    在那些希望在线存储照片和文档的普通用户中,Box获得了病毒式增长。不过Box如果想做强做大,同微软(Microsoft)、IBM、EMC等老牌企业级软件公司竞争,那么它需要更大、更传统,且具备全球化水准的企业营销团队。Box同时还必须证明自身财务状况稳定,着眼长远发展。即便超级乐观的莱维也承认,某些服务——例如微软SharePoint软件基于互联网的版本会对Box造成“有意义的竞争”,同时他还需应付一些规模更小的竞争者,其中包括位于旧金山的Dropbox,该公司也向用户提供在线存储及分享。

    莱维喜欢讨论企业级软件领域正在发生的“革命”,他还喜欢讨论Facebook、Twitter和YouTube等社交工具如何改变了我们对工作和生活中的技术的看法。

    上周四,莱维在一篇博客里表示,“企业软件领域正在发生一场革命——云计算使得企业软件服务领域的竞争者都站到了同一起跑线上。各企业第一次自下而上地采用新技术。”

    企业级IT领域确实正在发生改变。不过整个IT世界的变革速度却不那么快。尽管Box吹嘘73%的《财富》美国500强企业正在使用其服务进行商业内容的在线分享、访问和协作,但目前绝大部分用户都不是付费用户。不过,如果Box的下一步不走错,那么这一轮的4800万美元投资绝对能帮助它吸引到更多的付费企业用户。

    Box早期曾在莱维的叔叔的车库里运营过一段时间,相比之下,现在该公司已经取得了令人侧目的重大进步。

    莱维在其最近的博客中表示,“Box起先表现得很谦虚……为了延续过去的成功,我们现在必须积极投资。我们不再是小型新创企业了,而是一家拥有140名员工的强大组织,我们必须竭尽全力地为企业界带来更好的技术。”

    作者:项航

    Back in 2005, Aaron Levie and Dylan Smith were college dropouts with a collective $11,000 and a not-so-sexy startup idea for an online storage and collaboration service. Today, the entrepreneurial duo announced that their company, Box.net, has closed a whopping $48 million series D funding round.

    The large investment is the latest sign that web-based enterprise software startups are gaining clout. Box, a file storage and collaboration company, says it has over five million users, including enterprise customers like Cisco Systems (CSCO), Dell (DELL) and DreamWorks Animation SKG (DWA). The basic version of Box's service, which lets people store and share files online, is available for free. The company charges customers $15 a month for extra features like more storage or security enhancements.

    Palo Alto, Calif.-based Box has raised a total $77.5 million to date. Its latest round was led by venture capital firm Meritech Capital Partners with Andreessen Horowitz and Emergence Capital Partners joining in.

    So what will the startup do with all that new cash? (In an interview with Levie, the 26-year-old co-founder and CEO of Box joked that he's finally going to buy a yacht). According to a press release the company issued Thursday morning, the funds will go towards doubling its team of 140 employees within the next 18 months. It will also enable Box to pour more resources into its mobile platform, increase international presence and built out its enterprise sales force.

    Box has enjoyed viral growth among everyday consumers looking to store photos and documents online. But to go up against the likes of so-called "legacy" enterprise software companies like Microsoft (MSFT), IBM (IBM) and EMC (EMC), it needs a larger, more traditional and global enterprise sales team. It also needs to prove that's it's financially stable and here to stay. Even the uber-optimistic Levie admits that services like a web-based version of Microsoft's SharePoint software could provide some "meaningful competition" for Box. And he's got smaller competitors to tackle as well, including San Francisco-based Dropbox, which also lets users store and share files online.

    Levie likes to talk about the "revolution" that's taking place in enterprise software and how social tools like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have changed the way we think about technology in and out of the workplace.

    "This is a revolution that is democratizing enterprise software – the cloud has dramatically leveled the playing field for the delivery of services, and for the first time, technology adoption in the enterprise is being driven by the bottom-up," Levie wrote in a blog post published Thursday morning.

    It's true that the enterprise IT space is undergoing a transformation. But changes happen slowly in the IT world. And while Box boasts that 73% of the Fortune 500 use Box to share, access and collaborate on business content online, the vast majority of its current users are not paying customers. If Box executes correctly though, its new $48 million round of funding could definitely help it snag more paying, corporate customers.

    Already, Box has made some impressive leaps and bounds since its early days in Levie's uncle's garage.

    "Box's beginnings were modest," Levie wrote in his recent blog post. "...We must invest aggressively to continue this success. We are no longer a small startup, but a 140-person strong organization that must do everything in its power to bring better technology to the enterprise."

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