Box hits Wall Street with a bang after IPO

Box co-founder and chief executive Aaron Levie (left) and co-founder and chief financial officer Dylan Smith (second left) ring a ceremonial bell during their company's IPO on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Jan 23, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Box co-founder and chief executive Aaron Levie (left) and co-founder and chief financial officer Dylan Smith (second left) ring a ceremonial bell during their company's IPO on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Jan 23, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - Cloud storage startup Box soared in its Wall Street debut Friday after a public share offering, pushing its market value to some US$2.7 billion (S$3.6 billion).

Trading under the symbol “BOX,” the shares jumped 66 per cent to close at US$23.23 on the New York Stock Exchange from the offering price of US$14 announced Thursday.

Box, one of the growing cloud storage firms along with rival Dropbox, was founded in 2005 by University of Southern California student Aaron Levie and collaborators.

It now claims 32 million users including 275,000 companies.

The initial public offering raised US$175 million and could increase to US$200 million if options are exercised.

Box plans to use at least half of the capital for sales and marketing as well as developing new products but also has not ruled out acquisitions.

Over the nine months ended in October, Box revenues were US$154 million, with a net loss of US$129 million.

“Investors appear to be unconcerned either with the company’s growing losses or its ability to succeed in what many believe is a commodity market for cloud-based storage,” said Paul Ausick at the finance blog 24/7 Wall Street.

“For Box to live up to its triumph, it will have to compete and win against big players like Microsoft and Amazon.com that have offered cloud-based storage for increasingly lower prices.” 

Dropbox, one of the best-known cloud startups, has so far kept mum on IPO plans, but has raised venture capital that gives it an estimated value of US$10 billion.