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Box CEO Aaron Levie: The post-PC era and our partnerships will help us win

John Gallant and Matt Rosoff, CITEworld | April 5, 2013
It's no surprise that Box, the content management and collaboration company born in the cloud, has met with so much success among small-to-medium businesses. The service provides SMBs with the kind of enterprise-class content capabilities that they didn't have the money and resources to deploy before.

JG: Aaron, in many cases IT people judge the strength of an enterprise company by their range of partnerships and the scope of partnerships they have. Talk about the whole partnership strategy. We talked a little bit about the partner network. But talk about what your strategy is in terms of building connections throughout the industry.

AL: This is actually something that has been core to our thesis since day one, which is that because of the cloud you can now have a new degree of openness that encourages partnerships, encourages these open platforms. That was the first thing that we identified pretty early on because of APIs and Web services and just the amount of integration and matchups that were happening on the Web in the past five to eight years.

The other thing is that, more pragmatically, we can only provide one solution to our customers, which is a fairly broad solution but it's focused on content management and collaboration in the enterprise. That means that we have to work within an ecosystem of partners for two-factor authentication, threat monitoring and analytics, the ability to have business intelligence around things that are happening on your Box account, the ability to integrate content within third-party systems like or NetSuite. We have an incredibly partner-centered view of the world. I think we have the leading partnership team in the industry. We split up between the open developer ecosystem and commercial partners like the HPs and Dells and Salesforces of the world and we focus on working with both in a very comprehensive manner. I think this is absolutely core to our strategy, and the great thing is it's incredibly compelling for customers. It means that when you go with Box you're not going to be locked out of working with other vendors or other partners.

I think that the industry has far too long been at the mercy of companies like Oracle, which basically say -- we're going to build everything in this vertical stack. We're going to lock out partners from working with us and that basically creates this very challenging environment for customers. Our view is the exact opposite, as it should be. Because we're more of a startup and we have to work within a network of other services. But we believe there's a shift moving more towards best-of-breed platforms working together, as opposed to buying all of your technology from these vertically integrated providers. What we see more and more from customers is for their ERP they're dealing with NetSuite. For their human capital management they're going with Workday. For their email they're going with Google. For the CRM they're going with Salesforce. In that kind of world you fundamentally not only need to partner with a brand new set of providers and a much larger ecosystem of providers, but you also need to have a lot more openness around your technology and around how information can flow between these systems. That's what we've focused on at Box, and why we focus so much on our platform and so much on our partnerships.


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