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Box.net, a Palo Alto start-up providing free web-based file storage and sharing, said it has raised $1.5 million in a first round of investment from venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson.

This is area of online storage is very crowded. But Box.net apparently caught the eye of DFJ partner Josh Stein. Box.net says it has neared a milestone of 500,000 registered users, which is very quick for a service that has been around for only seven months.

But then again, it has done this by moving earlier this year to provide its services for free — raising questions about whether it can ever start charging for its service at a time when there are so many players offering free storage. Box.net does charge for upgraded services, but we don’t know how successful it has been in this area. For free, it offers a gigabyte of storage space. If you want five gigabytes or more, you pay $4.99 a month. If you want more than that, you pay more.

It has apparently done well by striking partnerships with some newer Web sites. If you are a user of personalized home-page sites like Netvibes, Goowy, Pageflakes, Google Homepage or Live.com, for example, Box.net lets you access your files from these sites.

Box.net’s platform goes beyond straight-forward online storage. It allows users to collaborate on their files within third-party applications and devices.

We wrote about Box.net here and gave more background on the company’s origins here.

To date, the company had been getting by on $400,000 from angels such as Mark Cuban.


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