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General Atlantic invests $125 mln in Box

July 31
3:01 PM 2012

Private equity firm General Atlantic LLC has invested $125 million in Box, the fast-growing cloud storage start-up seen as a likely candidate for an initial public offering.

The investment - the third funding round by Box in the last 18 months - valued the company at between $1.2 and $1.5 billion, people familiar with the matter said.

Led by 27-year old founder and CEO Aaron Levie, Box competes with Microsoft Corp's SkyDrive and Google Inc's Drive products to provide businesses with a file storage and workplace collaboration service.

The Mountain View, California-based company has expanded aggressively in recent months as it builds out its sales force, particularly across Europe.

General Atlantic's investment follows an $81 million funding round led last October by Salesforce.com and SAP Ventures, the European software giant's investment arm.

General Atlantic Managing Director Brett B. Rochkind said his firm sought to join that funding round - which valued the company at more than $600 million - but sat out.

Along with its new stake, the New York-based private equity firm, which manages $17 billion in capital, will also gain a board seat that will be held by Gary Reiner, an operating partner who served as General Electric's chief information officer until 2010.

In recent months Box has sold to CIOs at major companies like Procter and Gamble as well as small businesses.

CEO Levie has responded to questions about Box's profitability by releasing figures showing a doubling of sales year over year.

Levie said in an interview Box was not running low on cash and still had about half of the previous round - roughly $40 million - in hand.

The infusion of cash will allow Box some flexibility in terms of its IPO timetable, but the company seems to have put those plans on the backburner while it seeks to claim greater market share.

But a public listing remains the most likely outcome, Levie added. The company recently turned down a $700 million cash plus stock acquisition offer by Citrix (CTXS.O> Systems.

"We're in this window in the next couple years when the leaders of this new market is going to be defined," Levie said. "We see a once in a lifetime opportunity. That takes a lot of investment."

Reiner added: "It's a bit of land grab right now, and we're grabbing it."

This article is copyrighted by Reuters

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