Box.net is hoping to make a huge difference in the quality of its enterprise applications by housing developer communities and platform partners under one roof. Today, partners include Appcelerator, Cloud Foundry, Heroku, Rackspace, SnapLogic, and Twilio.
Box Innovation Network (/bin)
We're very familiar with developer networks these days. They provide the resources and services that developers need to innovate and create new features. For box.net, this specifically targets cloud-based enterprise technology.
“[Enterprise development] isn’t sexy and we don’t really know what people will build,” said Danielle Morrill, director of marketing for Twilio. “But Box has a huge user base, so if we can help developers find a magical tool that users love, we could see another GroupMe. I certainly hope we will.”
Taking a turn away from mass markets in favor of business is a strategy that several startups are making. Dropbox, for example, recently announced a business friendly service called Dropbox for Teams. The effort makes it easier for enterprises to purchase the service and get more visibility into usage.
“Our intent was not to create an open forum that anybody could get into without any support, ‘Here’s the API, go knock yourself out,’” said Chris Yeh, Box.net's VP of Platform. “There are some people that we really do want to invest in and work with.”
Box.net > SharePoint (?)
Always ready to stir the pot, Box.net CEO Aaron Levie compares this move to older systems:
Slow-moving enterprise software giants have produced very little innovation in recent years, and their closed ecosystems have made it all but impossible for outside players to create compelling experiences for customers on legacy systems. We’re changing all of that – and we’re doing so in ways that platforms like Microsoft simply cannot - by creating an open ecosystem of leading partners to enable developers to build and deploy Box applications instantly and on any platform.
And while beating out SharePoint on the functionality side is always high up on the list of priorities, Box is also probably hoping to get more installations. To date, targeting the enterprise has gotten Box 8 million members. Meanwhile, Dropbox, a similar tool built for consumers that's finding its way into more and more business environments, has 45 million users.
Show Us the Money
To get its community of developers and partners pumped, Box is investing up to two million dollars in fund money within the first year of the /bin launch. These dollars will reportedly go towards equity investments, intellectual property acquisitions, and co-development of enterprise products.