Box’s cloud content management vision showing results

For years, Box has been seen by many in the press, analyst and investor communities as a storage product and nothing more, which given its roots, was an understandable misperception. But CEO Aaron Levie and his company have always had a much broader ambition.

Through the years, Levie made it clear that he was in business to transform the entire category of enterprise content management, and that meant storage was simply a part of a larger platform of services, not the end game by any means. Yet the storage piece stubbornly persisted as the central perception of the company to the point that perhaps it was time to change the messaging.

In its most recent quarterly report earnings call, delivered on May 31st, Levie used the words “content management” 12 times in his introductory remarks. I don’t think this was a coincidence.

The overall approach appears to be working as revenue continues to grow steadily. Over the last five quarters the company has grown from $90.2 million in Q1 2017 to $117.2 million in the most recent quarter, Q1 2018.

Chart: Box


“We delivered year-over-year revenue growth of 30%, grew billings 31% and generated positive free cash flow. These results demonstrate the significant need for cloud content management in all industries and the inherent leverage in our business model,” Levie stated in the call.

Levie went on to say that the growth was driven in large part by the introduction of some new products that have greatly expanded the company’s market reach and helped give more credence to that content management messaging.

“We introduced significant new capabilities to drive continued adoption of our Box KeySafe, Zones, Governance and Platform products. Our product innovation and new products are key competitive differentiators and significant growth drivers for Box,” Levie explained in the call.

He added that customers bought at least one of these new products in 60 percent of the deals over $100,000, and Levie emphasized the idea of Box replacing legacy enterprise content management systems from vendors like Microsoft, IBM and OpenText as a key part of his company’s strategy, while also emphasizing partnerships with some of these same companies, particularly IBM.

And that was always the goal. Even in its earliest marketing campaigns, Box (then known as boldly went after Microsoft Sharepoint on billboards on Highway 101, and it has been those legacy vendors like Microsoft that the company has always had firmly in its sights. What it lacked was a complete content management platform. It’s much closer to that now and the results are beginning to show.

Photo: Box

“Our new products are also opening up opportunities for Box to replace legacy enterprise content management systems. We are seeing increasing momentum from customers looking to move to Box and retire the legacy content management solutions over time,” Levie stated in the call.

Whatever you call their underlying business, companies like Cisco, GE, Airbnb and Uber have switched to Box for their content management needs. The messaging, the vision and the functionality seem to be finally coming together, just as Levie always predicted they would.