Box buying HTML5 document embedding service Crocodoc

Summary:Comparing how vital photos are to Instagram, Box's CEO quipped that is the same relationship that the enterprise cloud storage provider has with documents.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Box is building out its enterprise cloud storage platform through the acquisition of Crocodoc, which provides a cloud-based service converting Microsoft Office and PDF files to HTML5.

CEO and co-founder Aaron Levie described during a media briefing on Thursday morning that Box bought Crocodoc "to reimagine what documents can look like in the cloud."

See also: Box's Sam Schillace on enterprise software's hard curve ahead

"Content sits at the center of every business," said Levie, emphasizing that Box is focused on building the "simplest way businesses can store information."

Comparing how vital photos are to Instagram, Levie quipped that is the same relationship Box has with documents.

"We talk about consumerization of enterprise, but it's a deep trend," remarked Schillace. "As an enterprise company, you are competing with consumer quality and experience. You can't just shove something into the enterprise because the user will go somewhere else."

According to Box execs, Crocodoc was founded on the idea of making content experiences richer on the web with an HTML5 document viewing experience for web and mobile. Levie boasted that it is "unparalleled" to what else is on the market.

Sam Schillace, vice president of engineering at Box, explained further about Box's interest in Crocodoc, highlighting the collaboration qualities and the "universal" standard of HTML5.

"We talk about consumerization of enterprise, but it's a deep trend," remarked Schillace. "As an enterprise company, you are competing with consumer quality and experience. You can't just shove something into the enterprise because the user will go somewhere else."

At the same time, Schillace stressed that what is most important for enterprise cloud apps is the "interaction" -- not the document itself.

Founded in 2007 with an initial focus on Flash, Crocodoc is already embedded on apps made by SAP, Yammer, LinkedIn, and (notable Box competitor) Dropbox.

Ryan Damico, CEO and founder of the San Francisco-based startup, explained further during the presentation at Box's new San Francisco offices that the service is most concerned with "speed and quality" so that users don't have to deal with "clunky apps like Acrobat and Office."

However, users still have to download the files to annotate the content. The executives present hinted that could take place in the cloud in the future.

Along with HTML5, some of the key features to Crocodoc include full mobile support and an API for third-party developer support.

In the last year and a half alone, Damico cited that Crocodoc has seen 180 million document previews and 14 million annotations on documents running through its platform.

Acknowledging that the company went down a "developer path" over the last few years, Damico asserted, "where we've always wanted to go is a user-facing product."

Reiterating support for consumers as well as enterprise customers, Damico said that Crocodoc will remain as a standalone product on the Box platform with additional integration throughout the cloud service.

A new version of Crocodoc is scheduled to roll out later this year. Levie also offered a rough sketch about where Box is headed next.

He outlined the roadmap boils down to three key areas right now: building out the platform (i.e. the Crocodoc acquisition, working with industry partners like Oracle and NetSuite ), expanding the international footprint ( especially in Europe ), and having a deeper competency across more industries (especially healthcare with HIPAA compliance ).

Crocodoc currently has seven employees, all of whom will join Box. Set to join Box as director of the platform team, Damico also replied that Crocodoc will continue to serve and support all of its existing customers -- including Dropbox.

Box is not disclosing financial terms of the deal. Levie revealed only that it will be a "cash and stock transaction." Damico said that Crocodoc has raised "a little" over $1 million in funding.

Admitting with a shrug that isn't much for being around for several years, Damico answered cheerfully, "We're super scrappy."

Schillace followed up with a smile, "I like scrappy. Scrappy is awesome."

Topics: Cloud, Apps, Enterprise 2.0, Enterprise Software, Storage

About

Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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