Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Box Makes All the Clouds Compatible

Box CEO Aaron Levie is a speaker-circuit favorite, known as the enterprise guy who keeps people awake and laughing. Today he takes a stage of his own making, at the second annual BoxWorks developer conference at the ornate Westin St. Francis in San Francisco.

Levie will be debuting an array of partnerships with Oracle, NetSuite, Concur, Jive, FuzeBox, Cornerstone, SugarCRM, Zendesk and others, where Box has developed hooks to HTML5-ify what they are doing, so customers of these applications can use all their tools together, instead of in different silos. The company calls this Box Embed, and it was announced earlier this morning.

His openers today are venture capitalist Marc Andreessen and eBay CEO John Donahoe.

8:41 am: Andreessen and Donahoe kick off with some political jokes (the eBay CEO’s wife, Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe, is U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Council). Andreessen notes that he joined the eBay board shortly after Donahoe was hired.

Andreessen hypes recent eBay progress, including mobile growth, acquisitions of Milo and RedLaser, and the spinoff of Skype (a big deal for him at Andreessen Horowitz). Then he talks about the great stock price. Eventually, he may let Donahoe talk, but we’ll see.

8:48 am: Donahoe says that five years ago it was clear that the eBay user experience was behind. “I started using the ‘T’ word,” he said — with the eBay turnaround being user experience, pricing, policies.

Andreessen asks about company culture. Donahoe says he has replaced 80 of the top 100 people at eBay. The outsiders bring objectivity and new skills. “You can’t change the culture unless you change the people,” he says.

Donahoe says that even though he’s not a founder-CEO, he can inject that energy into the company with acquisitions where the founders take leadership roles — like how 25-year-old Milo CEO Jack Abraham is now head of all of eBay Local, and Zong CEO David Marcus now leads PayPal.

Andreessen sets up two competing mobile theories: Peter Thiel versus Aneel Bhusri of Workday. Thiel says the Yelp of mobile with be Yelp, etc. Meanwhile, Bhusri says mobile is an architecture change that’s fundamental, so there will be new leaders. Which do you believe, he asks Donahoe — clearly a loaded question, considering that eBay is the e-commerce incumbent. EBay apps have been downloaded 100 million times, Donahoe replies. And payments are going to change more in the next three years than they did in the past 20.

9:08 am: Andreessen: Talk about the cloud. Oh, maybe they are going to finally talk about stuff that’s more related to Box!

Donahoe says eBay has always been a cloud company, but it’s increasingly so. He uses Box on his iPad, and his product team loves it, too. Infomercial time!

9:14 am: Donahoe says his big takeaway for the next five years is: “Most people are underestimating how fundamentally the shopping and paying experience is going to change.”

9:17 am: Time for Aaron Levie, who leaps out doing the “Gangnam Style” dance.

He says Box started in 2005 with the goal of helping people manage content from any device.

Today, Box has more than 140,000 active businesses, 14 million users, and 92 percent of the Fortune 500. That’s more than double a year ago.

Now he’s doing some light stand-up about the state of the tech industry. “Larry Ellison joined Twitter, did exactly one tweet, then celebrated by buying an island.”

Box works faster than the competition, Levie says, as much as 10 million times faster in Tokyo. This part is vague, but there is a pretty map.

Box has had a 10x increase in iOS usage, and a 30x increase on Android in the past year.

And there’s been a 72 percent increase in the number of businesses that have taken the product through their entire enterprise.

9:27 am: Levie’s big themes — and these are shockers — are: social, cloud and mobile.

Microsoft was founded around the idea of a PC on every desk in every home — Levie notes this was before his time, though not his COO’s. The challenges were that you needed to move data around physically; it was hard to collaborate; there were lots of error messages; the limit of client-server was met. So now it’s time for post-PC, where we can share and work from anywhere.

Now, instead of a computer on every desk, it’s a computer in every hand.

So Box wants to integrate the world of users and the world of IT.

9:40 am: Following a customer video, Levie says he’s getting to the news, which is around getting to and sharing data in more easy and elegant ways.

Box had never really highlighted search — some users didn’t even know Box had it. A new version of the site moves search to the top center of the page. Levie says his own Box account has access to 100,000 files, so search is critical for him. In the redesign, users will also be able to “Like” content and use other social Facebook-y features.

Users can do things like create Microsoft Word documents directly from the site, and there’s more of a sense of a company network where anyone with an email domain on the same URL can work together.

Levie talks about how customers often feel pressured to buy from one particular vendor. He’s after Larry Ellison again, showing an image of Darth Vader while talking about lock-in.

So Box is launching Box Embed (as I noted way up top in the intro) with 10 partners: Concur, Cornerstone, DocuSign, Eloqua, Zendesk, Jive, NetSuite, Oracle, SugarCRM and FuzeBox.

Demo shows how all this sharing, creating and viewing stuff can be built directly into NetSuite.

Folks from NetSuite and Jive come up to talk about how working together with Box is great. But still, it’s clear that everyone wants to be a platform, not an app on someone else’s platform.

10:10 am: On to mobile. The number of enterprise-relevant apps has doubled in the past year, Levie says. Given how fast mobile devices change, and how pervasive they are, companies should embrace BYOD (bring your own device), he argues. So Box is adding to its existing OneCloud platform for mobile (launched six months ago).

50 percent of Box traffic is now from mobile, which is a big increase.

So today there are 100 more new OneCloud apps, doubling the available amount.

More demos: This time, Mindjet jumping between iPad and Web app.

The new Box vision, says Levie, is to give people the ability to work with anyone, anywhere, from any device.


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Nobody was excited about paying top dollar for a movie about WikiLeaks. A film about the origins of Pets.com would have done better.

— Gitesh Pandya of BoxOfficeGuru.com comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”