Jeetu Patel might not be the easiest guy to recruit. But the former general manager of EMC Syncplicity joined one-time rival Box earlier this month as its Chief Strategy Officer.
"Aaron and I were fierce, but gracious competitors,” said Patel, speaking of his new boss, Box CEO Aaron Levie.
The two have known each other for some time. And now that Patel’s taken a close look at the strategy, organization and go-to-market offering that Levie has built, his reasoning for joining the Box team seems like a no brainer.
Except for one thing.
Patel is the kind of guy who carefully analyzes a situation before making a decision.
There were three primary criteria Patel said he was looking for in his next gig:
First, he had to see a massive body of work and the ability to impact hundreds of millions of people. And he saw that in Box. “Like Amazon which is number one Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider, Box will be the Content Platform as a Service provider,” said Patel. “The stuff that you have to do, over and over again but doesn’t add strategic value to your business, Box will do that,” he explained.
Or, as if that goal didn’t seem lofty enough, Patel added “Assuming the next generation of apps will be built in the cloud, the content will reside in Box.”
And while Patel might have sounded like he was talking about building castles in the sky, he made it clear that, at Box, a firm foundation had already been built.
Second, Patel said he wanted to work in a place where he enjoyed the people. And though he already knew Levie and Box’s SVP Enterprise, Whitney Bouck, with whom he worked at EMC, he was surprised by the caliber of those he hadn’t yet met. “What I didn’t know was the strategic aptitude of the other executives,” he said. “It’s very high.”
Third, Patel asked himself not only whether Box was working in a meaningful market, but if this was also the right time. Here, again, he checked that box YES, but with an interesting note. He talked less about storing, synching and sharing files (though he had no doubt Box was in that business) and more about content, collaboration, and workflow. When I asked him how Box was different from other EFSS offerings, there was some talk of comparison to consumer-like offerings, but in the end it was this, “What we do will be so different that it’s almost like comparing apples to oranges.”
All or Nothing
With all of the security, compliance, governance and industry specific solutions Box is building, are you going after the ECM market, we had to ask.
“Only about 10 percent of the world’s content lives in ECM systems,” said Patel, “We’re going after a much bigger market than that.”
Fifty, 60, 70 … we asked. “One hundred percent,“ said Patel.
So what’s a nice guy like Patel doing at Box?
He’s come in to scale the business. “Massive scale, massive reach,” he said.