Box and Value Creation in the Truest Sense of the Word
I’ve been following Box for a while now, as part of my marketing role at GENBAND. We also deliver collaboration tools to large enterprises (different from Box – we focus on real time communications between human beings using voice, video and messaging). But the idea is the same – how can we give people in business easier and more intuitive and even fun ways to get work done?
There’s been a lot of chatter about Box and their very successful IPO last week; after a complicated walk to the New York Stock Exchange altar and calling off the wedding a few times, they finally went public and contrary to many skeptics who doubted their attractiveness to Wall Street based on the usual fundamentals, their offering was met with enthusiasm and rewarded with a price that went from $14 to over $20 a share. We’ll see what Monday’s opening bell brings, but it seems clear investors get the value Box can create over the next 3-5 years, as they have the potential to crush other competitors with the $175M in capital available to innovate and propagate even more.
The $14 price point was higher than its first proposed $11 to $13. When trading opened Friday, Box surged to over $20 a share and already there were complaints! Pricing an IPO is a mix of art and science, and as Box CEO Aaron Levie tweeted:
But let’s talk about a different kind of “value creation,” one that is “fundamentally” part of Box’s culture. I like to call it the GOOD for GOOD vibe, and like many start-ups, particularly in the technology world, sharing software and volunteering to help people just comes naturally.
“CSR” – a word that itself (Corporate Social Responsibility) project something, enterprises “have to do” vs. “want to do” – is nothing like the GOOD for GOOD initiatives I’m observing. When a few smart people get together these days – to innovate and entrepreneur new businesses – they naturally realize how important their cultures are. They want to be with cool people, to attract cool people, and cool people are compassionate. It is really that simple.
GREED is GOOD is so last Century.
GOOD for GOOD is so right now.
So I checked out Box more deeply and was delighted and not surprised to learn that very early on they established a “.org” – a foundation, the brainchild of their SVP, Global Alliances, Karen Appleton. Since Karen’s role is to “initiate, evaluate, and structure new business opportunities, including strategic alliances and partnerships,” it makes sense that she’d land on this idea and move it forward. She’s clearly a connector. And in a company which employs an lot of women in the most senior position, I must say maybe there is something womanly in placing doing good up front while building a business and not looking at it as a “responsibility” an afterthought.
In fact, placing software like Box offers into non-profit organizations only make sense, as it not only helps the organizations help more people, but it raises visibility around the power of their solutions. Box is not giving everything away for free – they start with 10 free licenses and work with non-profits to grow to support more users only after they love the solution.
Look at this impressive roster of non-profit organizations currently benefiting from Box – and in only a few short years (the foundation was started in 2013). Box must be doing something right!
So, for Box, working with non-profits (a multi-billion industry by the way) is not a “distraction” rather it is an “accelerator” which also brings a feeling of warmth and humanity to the brand. It’s “All Good” this GOOD for GOOD approach.
Not only does Box provide software and services to non-profits, their ACT10x is a highly successful social outreach program through which “Boxers” donate time to the causes closest to their hearts. ACT stands for “Altruism, Community and Technology,” and 10x is an internal slogan meaning to find ways to amplify impact and go above and beyond.
From their website: “The purpose of ACT10x is to nurture the generous spirit that exists within the Box community. The employee-led program brings Boxers together to give back to the community and to make the world a better place. Since ACT10x started in 2013, Boxers have donated time, equity and money to dozens of local charities. We’ve volunteered with organizations like the Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula, BUILD and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. Some of us stayed up all night for the Relay for Life; others rode 545 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles in the AIDS/LifeCycle.”
So, carry on and thank you Karen Appleton – you’ve inspired me and will surely inspire the people who follow B the Change! The best thing about the successful first day of BOX’s IPO – to me – was the validation that companies who don’t wait to be great corporate citizens can and will continue to win big. Build GOOD for GOOD into your “business model” and watch what happens. Your team will be even more motivated – your customers wil love working with good people like you, your partners will show up at the Run/Walks with you, the big events you throw will be even more memorable when a non-profit benefits.
Why not mix it up right from the very start of a start-up? Could doing the right thing, every single day, contributing your products and services to scale “service,” and finding new ways to “share the wealth” actually be part of the equation for business growth in the 21st Century?
Imagine if that were true. I believe – it is.