Monday, 09 December 2013 06:33

Telstra puts the money in the Box Featured

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Box’s Aaron Levie – the next Silicon Valley billionaire? Box’s Aaron Levie – the next Silicon Valley billionaire?

Telstra has invested up to $10 million into US cloud storage vendor Box, as part of an international consortium. It will now offer the company’s services in Australia.

Telstra’s venture capital arm Telstra Ventures has entered into a ‘commercial agreement’ with Silicon Valley based technology company Box to offer secure file-sharing and collaboration solutions for the Australian business, enterprise and government market.

As part of the deal Telstra will also invest in Box, with an undisclosed sum believed to be close to $10 million. The investment is part of a US$100 million capital raising for Box, which values the eight year old company at US$2 billion. It expects revenues this year of $100 million.

Other investors include Spanish telco giant Telefónica, Japan’s Itochi Technology Ventures, and Mitsui USA. Existing investors have also increased their stake. Box has now raised more than US400 million from some of the biggest investors in Silicon Valley, including Netscape founder Marc Andreessen and a large investment from Salesforce.com.

Telstra Ventures managing director Mark Sherman said the agreement with Box would enhance Telstra’s growing cloud business and drive more value from Telstra’s core network. “Box offers a world leading collaboration capability for file-sharing and synchronisation services.

“Customers are harnessing the power of cloud, social and mobility in their desire to increasingly collaborate not only within their own business, but also with vendors, business partners, investors and other third party providers. In the past, the challenge was maintaining control of file access and user privileges through the collaboration process,” Sherman said.

“With Box, we will have the tools to overcome those issues. Additionally, using Box on Telstra’s mobile network means customers can enjoy a faster and more reliable experience when accessing and collaborating with files on smart phones and tablets.

“We know the traditional workspace and customer collaboration are undergoing a huge shift. They are moving from simple to complex, desktop to mobile, employees to partners and suppliers, so access to your files on the go is now becoming more and more important in the business world. Therefore solely using traditional inside-the-firewall platforms is becoming an outdated practice and customers are looking for secure cloud based solutions like Box”.

Box’s CEO and co-founder Aaron Levie said the combination of the cloud and post-PC devices is fundamentally changing the IT industry, creating new ways for people to work and collaborate at businesses of all sizes.

“This strategic relationship with Telstra is critical to our entering new regions and cultivating our ability to connect with customers everywhere and helping them manage the once-in-a-generation transition to the cloud,” Levie said.

Telstra expects to offer Box to its business and enterprise customers in the coming months. But it did not mention consumer customers, where Box competes against the similarly named Dropbox and dozen other cloud storage services.

Content on Box can be shared and accessed on the web, through iOS, Android and Windows Phone applications, and extended to partner applications, such as Google Apps, NetSuite and Salesforce.com.

This is not the first major investment by Telstra Ventures in a US company. In 2012 it invested in US video technology company Ooyala, and is now a major partner to it in the Asia Pacific region.

Telstra Ventures is a corporate venture capital group founded in 2011 as a wholly owned subsidiary of Telstra.


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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson is senior associate editor at iTWire. He is one of Australia’s longest serving and most experienced IT journalists. He is author of the only definitive history of the Australian IT industry, ‘A Vision Splendid: The History of Australian Computing.’

He has been in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time weekly IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism.

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