Here’s a discussion Aaron Levie and I had on the topic back in 2015:
“If we just sold to end users and silos, We’d Only Be a $25,000,000 Business” — Aaron Levie
Every company is different. Box started off as a cool but relatively undifferentiated consumer play, with many competitors. And realistically, in the early days, it lacked some of the core sync technology of Dropbox for Dropbox’s core early consumer use cases (especially pre-mobile).
So they went upmarket. They leaned in hard in the enterprise, beginning in 2010. And it worked. They learned to sell to IT, back when that was hard in SaaS. When IT didn’t trust the Cloud yet. That turned out to be magical for them.
When I joined a F500 company in 2011, we weren’t allowed to use Dropbox. But Box was deemed safe and OK.
And as they went to IPO at nine-figures in revenue, the freemium component, while still important to the brand, represented a single-digit % of revenues.
Every company’s DNA (and technology) is different. Box found its technology, DNA, CEO and brand were more suited to a corporate and sales-driven segment of enterprise content marketing.
It hasn’t been easy. But nothing is.
Box as a consumer player would be a fraction of what it is today. A $2.8b+ winner, at $700m+ in ARR.