Box Offers $2M to Spur Enterprise Cloud App Development

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Palo Alto, Calif.-based Box has launched a new program intended to spur development of enterprise applications on its cloud-based content management system. To sweeten the deal, it's putting up $2 million in funding for startups that are "chosen to support the growth and development of future enterprise applications built on the Box platform."

"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," said Aaron Levie, cofounder and chief executive officer of Box. "We're changing all of that—and we're doing so in ways that platforms like Microsoft simply can't—by creating an open ecosystem of leading partners to enable developers to build and deploy Box applications instantly and on any platform."

Box, which launched in 2005 as a consumer-focused online storage solution billed as Box.net, has evolved over the years into a content sharing platform that seeks to take on Google Docs and Microsoft SharePoint in the enterprise. Box says it has seen excellent traction in the enterprise in 2011, boasting adoption by 100,000 businesses, including 77 percent of the Fortune 500.

Its new program, the Box Innovation Network (/bin), is designed to further that aim by giving /bin members the incentive to expand the capabilities of the platform. Box has also partnered with Appcelerator, Cloud Foundry, Heroku, Rackspace, SnapLogic and Twilio as part of the initiative.

"The cloud is transforming the way developers and partners develop, deploy and manage applications across the Web," said Oren Teich, chief operating officer of Salesforce.com's Heroku. "The integration between /bin and Heroku gives developers a fast and easy launch pad for building and running apps rich in business content."

Clark Newby, senior vice president of Marketing & Alliances at SnapLogic, added, "SnapLogic and Box help enterprises share content across multiple applications, services and business units. Last year, our close collaboration resulted in the launch of the Box Snap, a rich connector that facilitates the bi-directional movement of Box data and services across the enterprise, including both SaaS and on-premise applications such as CRM, ERP, HRIS, eLearning, eCommerce and more. Now, as a founding member of /bin, we are excited to help fuel a new era of innovative enterprise solutions around Box."

Box said the core of /bin is direct partner and member connections. The idea is that /bin partners will supply /bin members with tools and services they need to build apps using the Box APIs on the partner platforms. Box said it designed /bin to provide developers with the right resources and services to build new features and functionality on its platform, and this will create an elite community that will provide direct support, contacts and funding for developers and companies.

In essence, /bin will be a new social network focused on developers and companies creating enterprise applications and platform partners that support them.

The company said it would invest up to $2 million in fund money within the first year of the /bin launch that will go toward equity investments, intellectual property acquisitions and co-development of enterprise products.

Thor Olavsrud is a contributor to InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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