Box Acquires Crocodoc To Add HTML5 Document Converter And Sleek Content Viewing Experience To Cloud Storage Platform

Posted: May 10, 2013 in GT

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Cloud storage company Box has acquired HTML5
document embedding service and Y Combinator alum
Crocodoc, both companies announced in a press
briefing today. Financial terms of the deal, which was
a cash and stock transaction, were not disclosed;
however, Box CEO and co-founder Aaron Levie said that it was a successful exit for investors. Crocodoc
has raised a little over $1 million in funding from Y
Combinator, SV Angel, Paul Buchheit, Joshua
Schachter, Dave McClure, Steve Chen and XG
Ventures. What Is Crocodoc? Crocodoc was founded in 2007 by four MIT engineers,
but eventually pivoted in 2010 to kill off Acrobat. The
startup’s initial Flash-based technology allowed you to
upload a PDF, and receive a version of the same
document in your browser, which you could then
share with coworkers and annotate with notes, highlighting, text, and a pen tool, with changes that
show up to other users in real time. In 2011,
Crocodoc launched this technology in HTML5 for
mobile embedding. Last year, Crocodoc debuted a new version of HTML5
embedding technology specifically designed for the
scale and demand of consumer and business web
and mobile applications. Using Crocodoc, PDFs,
PowerPoint or Word documents can be embedded
into any web or mobile app using a simple iFrame or JavaScript library (no plug-ins, downloads, or desktop
software required). The technology features fast,
crystal-clear rendering and advanced security,
including 256-bit document encryption, on-premise
storage options, and multiple deployment options,
including SaaS and private cloud. More than 100 companies, including Dropbox,
LinkedIn, Yammer, Facebook and SAP, license (and
pay for) the startup’s document-embedding
technology, and Levie says the company has been
able to build a “strong business model.” For example, Dropbox has used Crocodoc’s HTML5
document viewing solution to allow their users to view
documents in their web browsers and mobile devices
without having to download large files or use desktop
software (you can see an example here). Via
LinkedIn’s Recruiter product, Crocodoc enables recruiters to upload candidates’ resumes in Word and
PDF formats without having to download files and
open them using desktop software. Customers can also customize the appearance and
behavior of Crocodoc’s viewer and access built-in
commenting, annotations, highlighting and drawing
tools. Crocodoc, which now has seven employees,
says that it has powered 189 million document
previews and 14 million document annotations. Also worth noting — earlier this year, Crocodoc
launched a new version of its converter, which uses
both HTML5 and scalable vector graphics (SVG).
With the last version of the player, text was overlaid
on top of the image using HTML web fonts. The
newer version displays everything in the document as HTML5 and SVG, making for crisper lines and shapes
in the converted documents. Documents also load
significantly faster, as the browser won’t have to load
a large image to display. Why Crocodoc? As Levie explained today, Box acquired Crocodoc
because the company wants to reimagine what
documents look like in the cloud. “We’re focused on
building the simplest way to let businesses store and
manage documents anywhere, and were looking for
ways to change how users interact with content,” he says. We’re told that Crocodoc will continue to be operated
and licensed to existing and new users, but Box will
integrate Crocodoc’s technology into its own cloud
storage platform to allow customers to have a
seamless use of the embedder and viewer. And
there’s much more that Box and Crocodoc CEO Ryan Damico want to do with the product within the Box
family. Damico, who will become Box’s director of
platform, will be running content services for the
company, and the entire Crocodoc team will be joining
Box. Next up for the product? Damico explains that more
secure documents viewing, mobile collaboration, real-
time presentation, form-filing and document authoring
will all be added in the coming year. Levie says there
will also be a new version launching later this year
with new viewers like a flip-book-like technology, as well as a carousel experience for documents. There
will also be new branding around the Box Platform, he
added. Sam Schillace, Box’s VP of engineering who was
also one of the founders of Google Docs, explains
that Crocodoc’s technology doesn’t look or feel like
enterprise software. “It looks so beautiful and
polished, and it is a standard all have to shoot for
when viewing documents,” he says. With 15 million users, and 150,000 businesses across
retail, health care, financial services and more, Box is
growing fast as it eyes a potential public offering in
the next year. Part of growing further will be around
adding compelling experiences to the user
experience. Levie says that 2 billion content events happened in Q1 alone, so thinking about new ways to
improve content experiences makes sense. And
Crocodoc is an interesting move considering that its
technology is used by one of Box’s main competitors,
Dropbox. It’s no secret that Dropbox has its own ambitions
around content, as explained by AllThingsD earlier
this year. But Box believes that they, along with Crocodoc’s
technology, can be the leader in improving every
experience you have with documents on the
Internet. Similar to the way that YouTube remade the
online video experience and Facebook and Flickr
reimagined the photo experience, Box wants to make embedding documents less clunky.

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