Box is diving into the world of philanthropy — though it’s far from a selfless initiative.
The cloud storage company today announced Box.org, which will provide free or discounted Box licenses to registered nonprofits. The company will donate 10 “starter” licenses to nonprofit organizations, while larger nonprofits can slash the default pricing for Box services in half.
In other words, this is a promotion dressed up as a philanthropic venture. Box will still pull in substantial revenues from nonprofits like the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, which has around 2,000 employees using the service, according to Box.
And Box sure needs that money.
The company filed for an IPO in March, bringing its dire financial situation into the public spotlight. Box’s revenues have swelled in recent years, but so have its losses: It earned $124.2 million in revenue for the financial year ending Jan. 31, 2014, though its net loss totaled $168.6 million. That stands in contrast to $58.8 million in revenue and a $112.6 million net loss the year prior.
It’s worth noting that with its software-as-a-service model, Box has to pay for infrastructure and employee costs upfront while revenue from its deals takes a year or two to materialize. It just signed a massive deal with General Electric for 300,000 licenses, for example, but it’s not getting all that cash upfront. Nevertheless, it burns through cash fast.
“We’re giving value to customers … but naturally this [nonprofit initiative] also helps Box,” Whitney Bouck, general manager of enterprise at Box, told VentureBeat.
“It was always part of the plan; this is just the time to execute.”
There are more than 1,000 nonprofits using Box today, according to Bouck, including the World Bank Group and the International Rescue Committee.