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As Box's IPO looms, so do its challenges

Katherine Noyes | Jan. 23, 2015
The road to an initial public offering is rarely smooth for any company, but it's fair to say that Box's journey has been one of the bumpier ones.

That, in turn, will require a robust development and integration platform and a large partner ecosystem -- both goals Box has been working towards.

Looking ahead, the company's real challenge, Koplowitz said, is whether Box can continue to add customers in a competitive market, while driving up revenue per seat by monetizing its broader platform and emerging vertical capabilities.

Box's numerous competitors and considerable spending on marketing and data centers rank high among investors' concerns, agreed Kathleen Smith, a principal with IPO ETF manager Renaissance Capital.

"They have got a lot of customers, but they spend a lot to get them," she said. "The losses are high. The trick is for investors to see that spending as being worth it."

Box already offers features to distinguish its platform from those of its competitors, she added; now, "they also need to distinguish themselves with profits."

Time will tell whether that happens.

In the meantime, Friday will probably be "a wild trading day with huge volumes," Fitzgibbon predicted. "Maybe twice the shares being offered will trade."

There could also be a broader impact.

"All you need is a front-line company to really pop in an IPO market and you've got the floodgates opening up," he said. "Everybody's going to be running down the street in their underwear afterwards."


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