File-sharing service Box has announced the creation of its Partner Network, a service that is the formalization of the company’s three major tenets of partnering: alliances, channel, and platform. The company believes that this network will enable it to extend its cloud content and collaboration service into new markets and foster its expansion in the coming year as it eyes a potential IPO.

And the company appears ripe for it, especially as Box shared its annual growth numbers for 2012, of which perhaps most impressive is the 150 percent growth year-over-year.

Exceptional growth in 2012

Aaron Levie, the co-founder and CEO of the company that received the Crunchie Award for “Sexiest Enterprise Startup”, said Box and its users are witnessing a transition period — from traditional computing devices to cloud services. And he believes that it’s happening “faster than anyone could have predicted.”

Over the past year, Box has been riding high, with the addition of customers like Discovery Communications, Electronic Arts, Johnson Lambert LLP, McCann Worldgroup, MGM Resorts International, MRM Worldwide, NBC Sports, Netflix, Sony Music, and others. To date, more than 150,000 businesses have used the service making up part of the total customer base of over 15 million.

Snap 2013 02 04 at 20.06.28 Cloud storage service Box launches Partner Network to push into new markets and verticals, as it closes in on an IPO

That fact that the company has over 15 million users is something that stands out, especially when you consider how fast it grew to be that. At its annual BoxWorks conference last year, Levie announced that it had 14 million users — this was in October. Three months later, it increases by over a million.

For the first time, the company is releasing information about its customer verticals, with some interesting adoption and growth in a few of them. Within the past year, Box customers within the construction and engineering space grew 103 percent, while education grew 119 percent, manufacturing increased 233 percent, and media/entertainment up 200 percent.

Introducing Box Partner Network

With all its growth, Box decided to create a program that would help organize its partnerships while also formalizing a plan to get developers coordinated. The result is the Box Partner Network and its made up of the company’s strategic alliances/partnerships, including its technical integrations, the Box Channel Program, and the Box Platform and API service.

Snap 2013 02 04 at 20.07.32 Cloud storage service Box launches Partner Network to push into new markets and verticals, as it closes in on an IPO

Whitney Bouck, Box’s Enterprise General Manager, says that Box’s Partner Network is an important tool because its partners “help bring cloud content management and sharing through Box to every company, no matter what size or industry.” Through its software integrations, the extensive customer base of reseller partners, and the reach of developers, the company feels the Partner Network will make things easier for businesses to discover and deploy its product.

Last October, Box released its Box Embed product — an HTML5-based framework that tied Box in with other enterprise applications so that it appears to be one single platform. In doing so, the company signed strategic alliances with 10 major enterprise players, including Concur, Cornerstone, OnDemand, DocuSign, Eloqua, FuzeBox, Jive, NetSuite, Oracle, SugarCRM, and ZenDesk.

box embed 4 730x365 Cloud storage service Box launches Partner Network to push into new markets and verticals, as it closes in on an IPO

Today, Box is adding 10 additional companies to its list. While not all of them will integrate with Box Embed, they are considered to be software integration partners. Bouck says of the 10, AtTask, Autodesk, Marketo, and Xero will be integrating directly with Box in the coming months through its API. The remaining six, Clarizen, CollabNet, Fonality, IBM Connections, TIBCO’s tibbr, and Tidemark will integrate themselves with Box Embed.

Another component of the Partner Network is the addition of the Box Channel Program, which already has 50 partners signed on in the past four months, which includes CDW, Ahead, Insight, Forsythe, and SoftChoice. This Channel Program focuses on the reselling of Box’s service and there are three distinct plans: Box member, Box choice, and Box premier. Each one is focused on a specific customer base.

The last component is the Box Platform and API service, which counts more than 17,000 developers, over 300 OneCloud applications, and has seen 200 percent growth in usage by third-party apps. Last December, the company released its v2 API for developers to use and usage has seemed to take off. In fact, it has become quite popular that each month, there are 1.8 billion API calls made — and that’s for more than 350 apps in the Box Apps marketplace.

The road to an IPO

It’s known that Box will most likely go public, but when is the question. Levie has already acknowledged that the company will go that route, especially since he doesn’t want to sell to another firm. Will it IPO this year? It’s a “long shot”, says Levie and some might think 2014 will be the year it happens.

To that end, what is Box’s strategy for the next 11 months of the year? Bouck tells us that it plans on expanding globally. It launched a presence in Europe last June, and the headcount at the London-based office has already grown to 25 on the staff. The plan is to have 50 by the middle of the year and 100 by the end, with mostly sales personnel and some in marketing or support roles.

Having established a foothold outside the United States, Box says that it wants to put speed on the ground to reach other countries, including France, Germany, Spain, and the Nordics. In the future, Asia and Latin America are also in sight.

Photo credit: Martin Abegglen/Flickr