Box Becomes First Tech IPO of 2015 and Impresses Investors

In its initial public offering, shares in online file storage company Box were trading at $24.24 on Friday afternoon, 73 percent higher than its IPO price of $14 a share. With that impressive opening morning, the start-up company caught up to the $2.4 billion valuation that it garnered in its most recent private financing round last summer, possibly allaying concerns among investors that the company had been overvalued.

In a video presentation to investors Friday, Box co-founder and CEO, Aaron Levie, said that his company was at the forefront of "a once-in-a-generation shift" in storage. Among the companyEUs clients are General Electric and the drug maker AstraZeneca.

Launched in 2005, Box (formerly Box.net), has adopted a freemium business model, and offers 5 GB of free storage for personal accounts. But it has also gone after business clients, focusing on enterprise collaboration and workflows. Competitors such as Dropbox, on the other hand, have concentrated on the business-to-consumer market.

Aimed at Companies

Box has set itself apart by its variety of deployments of API (application program interface) technology. For instance, its Box View feature is an API that converts Microsoft Office and PDF documents to embeddable HTML5, allowing developers to create custom experiences around content.

The company defines its flagship product as a cloud platform that helps companies securely store, share and manage all their files. BoxEU selling points are secure confidential business information, development of custom mobile applications and simplification of paper-based office processes.

Box had planned to go public last spring, then postponed that event as the tech IPO market softened and questions began surfacing about the companyEUs financial health. WhatEUs more, its original core product, online file storage and sharing, faces loads of competition from companies, including Google and Microsoft, offering cloud storage services for little or no cost.

Challenges

The challenge for Box has been separating...

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