Box will soon be adding Crocodoc's HTML5 document rendering and viewing capabilities to its own cloud offerings. Box has acquired Crocodoc and plans to "deeply integrate" Crocodoc's technology into Box offerings, but at the same time, Box plans to continue offering Crocodoc as a core standalone platform to provide HTML5 document viewing to third-party applications on the web and on mobile devices.
The Crocodoc team will join Box, with Crocodoc's co-founder and CEO Ryan Damico becoming Box's director of platform.
For Box customers, this will add new features and functionality to the Box platform. Box already has a document previewing feature, but with the acquisition of Crocodoc, that old previewing system will go the way of the dinosaurs. It will be entirely replaced with Crocodoc's technology. Apparently the old system wasn't cutting the mustard; and when a vendor needs a technology, they can spend the resources in R&D or look to acquire.
Crocodoc has built an impressive list of customers since it launched in 2007, including Yammer, Facebook, LinkedIn and others, so Box has bought into a big HTML5 document viewing customer base. Probably better than starting from scratch or trying to add on to its existing document previewing technology.
Additionally, Crocodoc's API will become a core Box platform offering to power third-party document viewing on web and mobile devices. Box doesn't seem content to take its new acquisition and simply integrate what exists into its current portfolio. Instead, Box has plans to "invest significantly" in Crocodoc's technology and ecosystem.
"Content sits at the center of every business, and nearly every business application," said Aaron Levie, co-founder and CEO of Box, in a prepared statement. "Together with Crocodoc, we're going to transform collaboration on Box and beyond, creating a seamless, beautiful experience for our customers and helping to reimagine the future of documents. We're going even deeper in the content space, extending Crocodoc's HTML5 technology to every developer in the world who's building an application that touches content."
Will this be one of the differentiators Box is looking for to set itself apart from Dropbox and other competitors? Time may tell. The cloud storage and collaboration space Box is playing in is getting ever more crowded, and it's up against some big cloud vendors -- from the giants like Google and Microsoft to smaller players like Cubby and FileLocker.