A virtual game of industry ping-pong is heating up between Microsoft and Box. And Box just laced a wicked forehand cross-court over to Microsoft’s side.

Steven Sinofsky's Arrival at Box

Box, in a blog announcement today by Aaron Levie, CEO of the Los Altos, Calif., online file sharing and content management service for enterprise companies, announced the arrival of the former king of Windows, Steven Sinofsky, as an advisor.

Sinofsky stepped down as president of Microsoft’s Windows Division in November of 2012. The news of his relationship with Box comes in the same week that Microsoft said it increased the GB bucket for cloud data storage for its business clients, much like Box did the prior week.  

You do something. And so will we. Nothing like a little competition.

Non-Compete Agreement with Microsoft

It will be interesting to see just how much influence Sinofsky has on the competition between Box and Microsoft.

In June of this year, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission produced a non-compete report between Microsoft and Sinofsky. All along, each party has said the departure was mutual. But apparently, nothing is more solid than good ole government stamping.

In the government report, Sinofsky agrees not to compete with Microsoft by accepting employment at "certain" competitors (no company cited in the report) or encouraging certain customers of Microsoft to choose a competing offering to Microsoft products. 

He also shall:

  • Not solicit Microsoft employees to terminate their employment or work for other entities
  • Cooperate in litigation brought by or against Microsoft
  • Not disparage Microsoft
  • Continue complying with certain provisions of the Microsoft Corporation Employee Non-Disclosure Agreement between Microsoft and him related to intellectual property rights and confidentiality of Microsoft and third-party information

Microsoft per the agreement is paying the value of Sinofsky’s outstanding unvested stock awards granted prior to fiscal year 2013 and 50% of the shares of stock awarded for his performance during fiscal year 2013. 

All Started with Facebook

Even this industry transaction did not avoid Facebook. Levie, 27, said he reached out to Sinofsky, 48, on the social network about six months ago, and Sinofsky responded and eventually visited Box headquarters.

“Steven Sinofsky has a stronger and more fluid vision for the future of computing than almost anyone I’ve met,” Levie wrote. “As we kept talking and sometimes meeting over Pho, I realized we had to get him involved with Box.”

Big-time Industry Player

Sinofsky’s managed a few notable products and services at Microsoft over his 20 years here. Ever heard of Windows, Office, SharePoint and SkyDrive? Yep, those.

When Microsoft started a blog two years ago this month, Sinofsky made the first post on the blog:  “Windows 8 reimagines Windows. That's a big statement and one that we will return to throughout this blog. It is also important to know that we're 100% committed to running the software and supporting the hardware that is compatible with over 400 million Windows 7 licenses."