An infrequent shopper, Box buys Crocodoc to spiff up documents

Contact: Alan Pelz-Sharpe, Brenon Daly

Though likely a small deal, Box’s acquisition of Crocodoc is nonetheless significant in that it underscores the heavily funded startup’s ambition to serve as an enterprise platform rather than just product. Crocodoc provides HTML5 (originally it was an Adobe Flash service) rendering, annotation and viewing functionality for the cloud. It’s a very commonly used OEM service boasting more than 100 customers to date, including Facebook, SAP, Yammer, LinkedIn and, intriguingly, Dropbox.

Originally the firm provided free stand-alone tools, but in the past few months began to offer an Enterprise API option that allows developers to embed Crocodoc into Web applications. Traditional rendering tools have been designed with small numbers of on-premises power users in mind. On the other hand, Crocodoc began with ambitions to be a commodity cloud service, making its technology – in theory, at least – a good fit for Box.

Box is one of the hottest startups around at the moment, with huge expectations attached to the eight-year-old company. (In a round of funding late last year, for instance, investors valued Box at $1.2bn, according to our understanding.) The expectations have been fueled in part due to the roughly $280m in funding the company has received to date.

For its part, Box is using the money to pivot from the rapidly commoditizing market of file sync/share to a broader enterprise collaboration platform. To date, Box has done most of that repositioning organically. The company hasn’t announced an acquisition since October 2009. For comparison, in that same three-and-a-half-year period, rival Dropbox has inked seven acquisitions. We’ll have a full report on the transaction in our next Daily 451.

For more real-time information on tech M&A, follow us on Twitter @451TechMnA.