Cloud

Box.net closes extension round worth $81M

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Cloud storage provider Box.net today announced it has closed an $81 million extension to its fourth round of funding, which includes new investors New Enterprise Associates and Bessemer Venture Partners.

The new round gives Box.net, which has evolved into a provider of back-end storage on remote servers for enterprise applications, a lot of cash to make a mad grab in what has become a land rush in the enterprise software space. Box.net chief executive Aaron Levie said the funding will go toward research and development, staffing and other kinds of “marketable” expansion plans. That’s the kind of expansion that’s highly visible and makes it obvious that the company is growing quickly.

Box.net’s latest round gives the company a valuation well north of $600 million, compared to recent filings that suggest the company is worth around $550 million. Earlier this year, Levie turned down a buyout offer for the company that was worth $500 million, as we reported in October, before the company’s first Boxworks conference based in San Francisco, Calif.

In addition to expanding the company’s research and development, Box.net is also starting the “innovation network,” a third-party development community of sorts that uses Box.net as a storage back-end for enterprise applications. Levie said he hopes that any enterprise application developer — large or small — can walk in with his or her specific application and wrap it around Box.net’s cloud storage. Levie wouldn’t disclose any new details about the financial agreements the company would make with developers, but those should emerge sometime later this year.

Box.net will also build a third data center for the company, though Levie said Box.net hasn’t experienced any kind of strain on its networks. The deals with Salesforce.com and SAP were both strategic, meaning the companies will be working together on software in some way.

The enterprise cloud storage provider has more than 7 million users, and 77 percent of the largest companies in the world on the Fortune 500 list have deployed its service in some form. Around half of the $162 million the company has raised to date is still in the bank, investors in the company told me. Even with that much cash around, Levie said there’s still a chance that the company could seek additional funding in the future — though his investors want him to take the company public.

“Obviously, if I’ve learned anything it’s not to say that this will be the last round,” Levie said. “We’re always on the lookout for a good deal.”

[Photo credit: Matthew Lynley]

For a more in-depth look at how Aaron Levie runs Box.net and how the company got its start, check out this VentureBeat profile from earlier this month.