Box strikes deal with General Electric, enterprise investments pay off

Around 300,000 General Electric employees are going to be using Box as a standard for content sharing and collaboration, the cloud storage provider has announced.

Following the rumours that Box was to delay its much-vaunted IPO, this client win comes as timely news for Aaron Levie and company.

Levie wrote in a blog post that he was “incredibly excited” to be partnering with “one of the most tech-centric companies of the Fortune 500.”

“While GE has a long history of technology-driven innovation, few enterprises of its scale have reinvented themselves by putting information technology at the centre of their competitive strategy,” he wrote.

He added: “Under [CEO] Jeff Immelt, we’ve seen this manifest in GE’s corporate strategy with the industrial internet, bringing intelligent data to industrial machines and processes; GE is applying that same creativity to empowering its global workforce with better access to information and tools.”

It’s been a tough couple of weeks for Box, following what had been a pretty solid 2014 up until the delayed IPO rollout. Back in January Box timed its announcement of 50GB free storage for new users perfectly, coinciding with a security issue at rival Dropbox.

The company had already shown key signs of moving to IPO, not least entering what Ovum described as ‘acquisition mode’. Of most interest was the acquisition of dLoop at the back end of last year – a data analytics firm which enables advanced data classification on cloud content.

It was an acquisition oriented for the enterprise market – and the deal struck with General Electric underpins the wisdom of such investment - especially given it took up to two years of discussion before the deal was sealed, according to CITEWorld.

Tien Tzuo, the CEO of Zuora, wrote for CloudTech earlier this week that the recent decline for cloud software stocks – of whom Box hit dead centre – confirmed a “fundamental lack of understanding of how the sector is evolving.”

“The reality is that there has always been, and still is, significant value in business models such as these,” he wrote. “It just needs to become more widely understood.”

For Levie, the message remains the same. “The traditional model of IT simply doesn’t work in this new world,” he wrote, pointing to the ‘significant’ IT demands of GE; 300,000 employees, across 170 countries, needing data anytime, anywhere.

For Box, the move should provide a vote of confidence for shareholders when Levie decides the time is finally right to go public.

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