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Box CEO and Microsoft Critic Warms Up to Redmond

There are dozens of free or low-cost file storage and sharing services but one of the cloud pure plays that has perhaps the most credibility among enterprise IT managers is Box. The service already has large customers such as eBay, Eli Lilly and Proctor & Gamble. Box CEO Aaron Levie has made no secret that he now has his sights on the Microsoft SharePoint market.

Levie stepped up his attack on Redmond back in November telling Forbes that "Microsoft finds itself in this really challenging position where they're being attacked on all dimensions with people whose business models don't rely on the same kind of revenue and the same kind of profits."

Perhaps it was his New Year's resolution to warm up to Microsoft. In January he first praised the company for choosing Satya Nadella as its new CEO in a tweet. Asked about that in a CNBC interview during the annual SXSW Conference taking place in Austin, Texas this week, Levie said he believes Nadella will transform Microsoft into a cloud company and help it become less dependent on its legacy businesses that the Box CEO often criticized.

"Satya is actually really part of the next generation way of how software is going to be developed and how companies are buying technology. And we actually see [that] Microsoft has a major opportunity to become more open with their technologies than ever before, which is a very good thing for us," Levie told CNBC. "It used to be that in the past Microsoft viewed the world through a Redmond lens -- they had to control all the software and all the technology that was deployed in an enterprise. Satya has brought a different level of openness within that company. So we actually think our ability and our change of working with in a complimentary way with Microsoft increasing pretty dramatically under Satya's leadership. At least in that scenario we're viewing it as a very positive thing."

Could that mean some kind of partnership is in the works? Box already has relationships with Google but that wouldn't preclude a deal in this day and age. But while Microsoft has OneDrive and OneDrive for Business, Carson, Nevada-based All Marketing Systems said today it will add Box into OneBigDrive -- a service that consolidates various cloud services including Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive. By adding Box, AMS is now providing 32 GB of free storage. The company said it will up that in April to 50 GB with a goal of hitting 100 GB of consolidated cloud storage.

Indeed the cloud file sharing and storage market continues to evolve. Two companies this week also launched cloud file sharing and storage services targeted at enterprises. See my separate post.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 03/12/2014 at 11:10 AM


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