Box, a business cloud storage service, has established a long list of entertainment industry customers who want to become public. Investors include Ashton Kutcher’s A-grade fund.
SAN FRANCISCO – 29-year-old Aaron Levie, General Manager of Box Inc., hit the red carpet this year with a dark suit and tie, a pressed white shirt and neon-blue sneakers.
“I asked for the dress code for sneakers,” said Levie, who does not like the number of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who bother him, let alone a pair of dress shoes. “Apparently, it was not a problem.”
It was the biggest night in the movie industry, and Levie wasted no time talking to cloud computing with Hollywood stars like Harrison Ford.
“He seemed to understand,” Levie said of the 71-year-old actor.
Levie, whose eight-year-old company is gearing up for Silicon Valley’s highly anticipated IPO this year, has spent a lot of time recently in Hollywood.
With a three-digit increase in sales last year, the entertainment industry has become one of the largest markets serving its business. Levie is looking for an even bigger jump this year.
He has met film studios, talent agencies and music labels to better understand what the industry expects of a cloud computing company.
“We will focus more on [the entertainment industry] this year,” he said.
This goal comes at a crucial time for Box. It provides an online enterprise storage service that allows corporate employees to access files stored on remote data servers.
The growing popularity of cloud computing has brought luck to the box. Companies want employees to share and collaborate on documents, not just PCs, but tablets and smartphones.
But Box has a lot of competition with well-funded start-ups like Dropbox Inc., which was recently valued at $ 10 billion by investors, and tech giants like Microsoft Corp. and Google Inc.
To float Dropbox, Box has filed confidential IPOs this year. It is expected that these documents will be published in the coming weeks and will be published in the spring. Box hopes to have seen the latest news from several enterprise software companies, such as Workday Inc., that are seeing their inventories rise.
Levie did not want to comment on the next IPO.
“Of course, we are very focused on creating an independent business, and our approach is focused on that,” he said. “We are going to grow very aggressively this year.”
To gain a foothold in Hollywood, Levie hired leading investors.
Actor and start-up investor Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary, Madonna’s manager, have invested in Box through their A-Grade Investments fund. They participated in a $ 100 million round of funding in December, estimated at $ 2 billion.
A-Grade, which also includes billionaire Ron Burkle as a partner, has invested approximately $ 100 million in technology start-ups and has made insightful bets in Silicon Valley, including Airbnb Inc., Spotify and Uber.
But it’s not just the deep pockets of A-Grade or the Hollywood experience that could help. Box: This is the vast network of connections.
“Guy and I have been working in the entertainment industry for decades,” said Kutcher. “We have worked in the fields of music, film, television and advertising, and we have relationships with a wide range of companies who are and / or are boxer customers.”
Brian Klein, founder of Iminmusic, who runs Fitz & the Tantrums and Joe Purdy, was converted to Box early.
“I use Box for everything I do in management.” I do not have to walk around with a laptop. I’m walking on my phone and my iPad with everything I have in my pocket, “said Klein. I sat down with a lot of other managers and other artists to show them Box and how I use them and they instantly fall in love with them. ”
While many industries reluctantly entrust confidential files to remote data servers, Hollywood has been doing so for years, Kutcher said.
“Hollywood has embraced the cloud since it was called Cloud,” Kutcher said. “Since the digitization of this content, collaborative publishing and production have been realized, and the previous generation of the cloud consisted of local on-premise servers that many artists could access.
But, he said, “Box widens the horizon”.
Movie studios and TV stations share schedules, work on scripts, and send trailers and screenings. Talent agencies use Box to conduct marketing campaigns and share advertising material and scripts with customers.
Music labels use Box as a digital library to distribute music to radio stations and schedule concerts and tours. Music managers use Box to work with their artists on the latest tracks and share audio, photos, videos and graphics with promoters and event managers.