Arik Hesseldahl

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Box’s Aaron Levie and Jive’s Tony Zingale Talk About Teaming Up

buddiesYesterday, Box, the upstart IPO-bound enterprise cloud services and collaboration startup, and Jive Software, the social enterprise software company that went public last year, announced that they would team up.

Following through on a plan they first announced last year, the two companies said that Box’s content-sharing capabilities would be integrated with Jive’s software. If your company happens to be a customer of both — not uncommon — content in Box will from now on be easily accessible from within Jive and vice versa.

Yesterday I got Box CEO and D11 speaker Aaron Levie on the phone with Jive CEO Tony Zingale to talk about why they’re pairing up and which competitors they share in common.

Here are some highlights from our conversation.

AllThingsD: So you said last year you were going to team up in this way. What exactly have you done here and why is it important?

tonyzingale_smZingale: Back in October we announced our intent to go to market together. It had a lot to do with the complementary nature of our products and the huge shift we were seeing in the marketplace as enterprises retool around collaboration and social and mobile. And being the two market leaders in those areas, it makes sense we would get together and connect our two systems. We think it’s a huge deal between the two companies and can now demonstrate the functionality now that it’s shipping.

Aaron, Box was sort of built from the ground up with working with other companies in mind. And now here you are working a little more closely with one in particular. Is there any other outside company with which Box has so close a relationship?

aaron_levieLevie: This is critical to our strategy. We feel that content needs to extend into all sorts of business applications that you may want to use. As you look at the social enterprise and collaboration space more broadly, Jive is the clear leader. So the deeper that we can combine our products and services, it creates one unified experience for customers. And true to Tony being the master of the enterprise, they are in a very big number of large companies that we’re now starting to serve. This will only accelerate that. At a more meta-level, it represents a bigger trend. Five or 10 years ago you were forced to buy all your technology as a single large stack from an Oracle or an SAP. But now because of collaborations like this, and because of open APIs, you can mix and match the best IT products and services. That will fundamentally change the IT landscape. Startups and disruptors will be highly favored over established players.

One big competitor you share is Salesforce has Chatter, which competes with Jive, and it has also announced plans to build a product that it says will compete with Box, though Salesforce is also an investor in Box. Can you unpack that shared dynamic for me?

Zingale: The intent to compete with Jive has existed there for years now. The second thing is that I would riff off what Aaron just said. The Salesforce solution is a stack of their own. If you want to use all the Salesforce apps for sales and marketing and service, go have a nice day. But Chatter has morphed into sort of a front-end user interface for its stack of vertically integrated applications. Box and Jive are both agnostic and we’re both going to integrate with whatever is there and present in the customer’s environment. In our case that includes Salesforce. We add a lot of value on top of the CRM (customer relationship management) app, both inside and outside the enterprise. Their position is very much confined to their three silos. And yes they’re open, but I don’t see many enterprises embracing that as the way to integrate how they get things done. We sit on top of and really don’t any more compete head to head with Chatter as much as we once did.

Levie: I would posit that for Tony and myself, the bigger shared enemy for us is probably Microsoft.

Zingale: Same for us.

Levie: I think that in the land of Microsoft, we are all disruptors collectively. Salesforce included. The big opportunity is the legacy spend on collaboration tools. For those companies moving to the cloud, that is the big opportunity for this kind of service.

Aaron, does Box work as closely with any other company as it is now doing with Jive?

Levie: The only other one where we have this depth of integration is NetSuite. We go pretty deep on the Salesforce CRM. But we certainly look for areas where we have a shared customer base, or where customers want to extend the content from Box into something else.

How much do your customers overlap?

Zingale: As we both disrupt the new wave of enterprise applications, Jive has always attacked the larger companies, the ones with thousands of knowledge workers. The attraction for us is that Box has a huge reach within small companies, but also small groups within large companies like American Express or Fidelity or Procter and Gamble using Box is very interesting to us.

Levie: There probably isn’t an enterprise over 1,000 employees that we talk with that isn’t either on Jive or exploring Jive, mainly because social is the type of product where you want it to go across the entire company and not just be integrated with your sales applications.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald