Shares of online data provider Box rose as much as 77 percent in its debut, valuing the company at close to $3 billion at one point. Bobbi Rebell reports.
When the opening bell rang at the NYSE, Box CEO Aaron Levie, and the folks behind the cloud storage company's IPO were all smiles. But little did they know the stock would surge close to 80 percent in the first day of trading, pushing its value close to $3 billion. Investors were ready and willing to pay. Manhattan Venture Partner's Max Wolff: SOUNDBITE: MAX WOLFF, MANAGING PARTNER, MANHATTAN VENTURE PARTNERS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "The company actually was going at an even higher price for a while in the private market. Had to reset to a lower IPO price, indicated a range of $11 to $13, and then it was a really small float. So, a lot of buzz a lot of turmoil. It's an exciting space. The company showed very good growth recently." Shares actually priced at $14. As for that growth, revenues rose 80 percent in the nine months ending October 31st. But Box is not profitable. And it faces a lot of competition in the cloud storage market. In addition to rival Drop box, big players like Microsoft, Google and Apple can use storage as a kind of loss leader. Reuters BreakingViews Rob Cyran: SOUNDBITE: ROB CYRAN, COLUMNIST, REUTERS BREAKING VIEWS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "The thing is everyone is offering this because everyone wants to sell other services in addition to that. So Microsoft, they give you a deal on online storage because they want to sell you apps and software that runs on that data. Amazon does the same thing. And Box because they are so small, they are going to get squeezed out." Box is trying to branch out instead of getting boxed in. For example, it offers specialized storage options such as digital versions of X-rays for drugmakers. SOUNDBITE: MAX WOLFF, MANAGING PARTNER, MANHATTAN VENTURE PARTNERS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "They are trying to be a higher value added and differentiated product, which is why they are pushing everyone not to think of them as the storage and sync name they have built themselves on, more as this collaboration tool they have become in the last year or so. Again though still pretty early going and still not profitable." The stakes are high. The market for file storage and sharing is likely to grow by about 23 percent to $2.3 billion over the next five years, according to research firm IDC.