It is easy to lump cloud storage companies Box and Dropbox in together. After all, they provide similar services, and even have pretty similar names. But there are key differences between then, including their acquisition strategies.
While Dropbox has been on an acquisition tear this year, picking up a total of seven different companiesin just the last six months alone. Box, on the other hand, has been much more discerning when it comes to making purchases; in fact it has only acquired four startups in its entire existence. Well, actually you can now make that five.
Box has purchased Streem, a company that allows customers to stream files from the cloud to their desktop computers, it was revealed in a blog post on Streem's homepage on Monday. While no financial terms of the deal have been disclosed, it was revealed that Streem's technology will be integrated into Box, and that the entire team at Streem will be coming to work there.
That includes StreemFS, a filesystem that enables users to natively access files in the cloud right on their desktop, as well as its custom streaming and buffering algorithms and its on-the-fly video transcoder that "instantly streams videos regardless of their original format."
"Box has the best-in-class enterprise solution for content management and collaboration in the cloud, spanning 25 million users across 225,000 organizations. It was clear after our first meeting with them that our visions for the future of cloud content were aligned," the Streem team wrote. "With our technology, we'll be able to provide businesses and teams with instant access to large volumes of data and faster ways to view their media content -- all without filling up their hard drives."
In a separate blog post, Box CEO Aaron Levie explained from Box's perspective why the company was so interested in Streem's technology.
"Streem has developed amazing technology that allows you to mount a cloud drive onto your computer — making documents, presentations, videos and files available to you without the limitations of your local hard-disk, effectively turning the cloud into an 'unlimited' drive," he said.
In spaces, specifically media, oil, healthcare and manufacturing, they store huge amounts of data and Streem's technology gives them instant access to it. For other industries, like financial services "it means better protection and control of information and where it lives."
"As more and more business information moves to the cloud, our job at Box is to make that information increasingly accessible and useful, across all your devices and the people you’re working with," Levie wrote. "We’ll continue to invest in and build technology that allows enterprises to get the most out of their content when it’s on Box."
Streem says that it will allow users to transfer their files seamlessly to Box, as well as allow them to request a copy of their files as a zip file. Currently there is no set timetable as to when Streem will be integrated into Box.
As I said earlier, Box has only bought give companies since being founded in 2005.
Its first acquisition was in 2009, when it bought Increo Solutions, a provider of collaboration and annotation solutions. Box's other three purchases did not come until last year, when it bought Crocodoc, a service for rendering and viewing documents on the web; Folders, a file manager for cloud platforms; and dLoop, a provider of advanced data analytics.
Looking over that list, it seems that Box's mission is to enhance its core services, rather than trying to offer all types of storage services, which is what Dropbox seems to want to do. Its the difference between being all things to all users, or simply being the best at what it does.
In a speech at the BoxWorks event this past September, Levie elaborated a bit into how the company views acquisitions. Flatly, it would rather do the work itself, but will pick up a company when it thinks that it will help Box make a leap in a sector it is not currently working on.
"We're very oriented around building in house," Levie said. "We have 160 or 170 engineers just working on extending the Box platform. But given the space we're in, there's a lot of adjacent innovation in mobile, in content previewing, in security. So we look for situations where there's a team or a technology that can extend even further on our core efforts."
(Image source: blog.box.com)