Had enough tech IPO's yet? Well you'd better have room for one more, because here comes Box, and they're looking to raise $500 million at IPO early next year. To that end, the company has announced that they've chosen Morgan Stanley as dealrunner, with Morgan batting cleanup as syndicate partners.
The enterprise cloud company is something of a tech darling among investors, and its last round of financing was oversubscribed by $25 million, valuing the company north of $1.2 billion. So there's no telling what the ultimate valuation will be at IPO, but somewhere on the order of $3-5 billion isn't outside the realm of possibility (if you're willing to use the Twitter IPO as a measuring stick).
Box has been hitting all the stations of the cross on its way to an IPO. Earlier this year, CEO Aaron Levie confirmed to AllThingsD that the company is on track to exceed $100 million in revenue this year. And while he also admitted that Box's burn rate is typically in the "seven figure per month" range, Levie states that the company's biggest expense is the sales and marketing people who can, as he put it, "get enterprise deals done." In January, Levie predicted that Box would have 1,000 employees by the end of 2013, and I just heard from a source today who said that, as of October, it was already north of 900.
The thing that surprises me is that Box is essentially a Dropbox knockoff, and there are a ton of them these days. So where are the sky-high valuations coming from? What I mean specifically, is what is Box doing differently from everyone else in this space? At this point, cloud storage is pretty much a commodity. With minimal downtime across the board, the only arrow you have in your quiver is price - and any salesman worth his salt will tell you that you never want to compete solely on price.
Don't get me wrong: the company is making a lot of smart moves and they have revenues (remember when producing revenues used to be a thing?). But I just don't get why you would pay 20 or 30 times those revenues when the self-storage place down the street (which provides essentially the same service on a brick-and-mortar basis) would be lucky to sell for three time revenues. Let's face it: storage is storage.
So I guess it's hats off to the three banks that'll be collecting fat fees on this deal. Otherwise, I really don't get it.