September 21, 2015

How BoxWorks 2015 Became One of the Biggest Cloud Conferences on the Planet

The lineup of speakers at BoxWorks 2015 includes Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, Inc.; John Chambers, the Executive Chairman of the Board for Cisco; and Ed Catmull, Co-Founder of Pixar Animation Studios, President of Walt Disney Animation Studios, and Disneytoon Studios.

Those three individuals alone are impressive by anyone’s standards, and that’s before the roll call dives into the slew of other members from the business elite who will present at this year’s iteration of BoxWorks.

When you consider the concentration of technology and business acumen at this conference, it begs the question: how did BoxWorks get this way?

After all, the conference is only 4 years old, and the company hosting it is only about a decade old.

The answer to BoxWorks’s meteoric growth lies in the history of Box itself, as well as the company’s relationship to the emergence of cloud computing. Both have grown at tremendous rates, and both have played a large part in defining how businesses use, store, and share information.

Let’s examine how the technology and the business grew in parallel.  

How Box Got Big

Box was created in 2005 by Aaron Levie and Dylan Smith. Like most good software startups, Box (then known as Box.net) started while they were still living in their dorm rooms.

In retrospect, Box’s mission to help companies securely collaborate through sharing and media in the cloud seems straightforward. But 10 years ago, the cloud was still an emerging concept and wasn’t fully accepted as standard practice for sharing and managing files for businesses.

However, Box’s potential quickly caught the eye of investors and venture capital firms — which meant the funding started rolling in soon after.

In the same year Box was conceptualized, Mark Cuban contributed $350k as an angel investor. The next year, Draper Fisher Jurvetson contributed $1.5 million, and in 2008 a consortium of investors lead by U.S. Venture Partners funded the company $6 million.

By the time Box launched BoxWorks in 2011, the company had received over $70 million in funding.

Clearly, the venture capital world liked Aaron and Dylan’s vision for Box and believed in the potential of the cloud to fundamentally transform the processes and technology companies use to store and manage their documents.

And this funding laid the foundation for some tremendous growth. By the opening night of Boxwork 2011, the company served seven million registered users from 100,000 respective companies.

At that time, 77 percent of the Fortune 500 used Box, making an annual event the perfect platform to cement the company’s position at the top of the cloud storage and cloud computing world.

How the Cloud Became the Norm

Perhaps used as early as the 1990s by large telecom companies, the technology behind cloud computing wasn’t brand new when Box hit the market. But the early to mid-2000s did see the technology mature, with technical standards and businesses offering services to both consumers and enterprises becoming the norm.

The analysis of Gartner Fellow Daryl Plummer in 2008 is telling about the state of the cloud computing industry during that time:

“During the past 15 years, a continuing trend toward IT industrialization has grown in popularity as IT services delivered via hardware, software, and people are becoming repeatable and usable by a wide range of customers and service providers.”

The same year Mr. Plummer’s analysis was released, Gartner also predicted that early adopting businesses would purchase more than 40 percent of their infrastructure as a service by 2011.

It’s fascinating to view these predictions in light of current cloud adoption. A 2015 survey by RightScale of over 900 IT professionals found that 93 percent of respondents had adopted some form of cloud computing:

Cloud Computing Trends Who Is Using Cloud

In the span of just under a decade, cloud computing hasn’t simply emerged as a major technology — it has conquered a significant portion of business technology deployments.

This is the environment in which Box grew. When businesses began to realize the inherent value offered by the cloud — scalable architecture and a reduction in upfront hardware expenditures — many turned to Box as a storage and management supplier. 

How BoxWorks Brought It All Together

When Box announced the inaugural edition of BoxWorks, cloud computing had already reached a fever pitch, and Box was already working with many of the biggest companies in the world.

The excitement for the technology and for the company was already there, but what made Box especially impressive, even in 2011, was the conference’s commitment to delivering stellar content from renowned speakers.

For example, in only its second year BoxWorks features a slew of impressive speakers and thought leaders that included “Tony Fadel (creator of the iPod and Nest), Clayton Christensen, Marc Andreessen, the CEO of Ebay, the inventor of Javascript, and the creator of Google Docs.”

Though these names may not quite match up with the likes of Tim Cook and Ed Catmull, they are impressive in their own right. Given the enthusiasm around the technology, the reliable standard of speakers, and Box’s growing stature as an enterprise and cloud computing mainstay, it’s no surprise that BoxWorks grew into the mega conference that it is today.

Much like cloud computing, BoxWorks has become a prominent part of the IT landscape. The once modest conference has evolved to encompass nearly everything cloud and business related while boasting some of the premier names in business leadership.

And just as the technology behind cloud computing shows little signs of abating, neither does BoxWorks show any indicators of slowing down. 

If your interest is peaked, learn more about what BoxWorks 2015 has in store here

This year BoxWorks is going to be on fire! But not in the way you might think. Stop by booth S16 for your chance to take home a bottle of Jack Daniels Fire Whiskey.

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