Today Box announced that it is to acquire Dutch eSignature firm SignRequest. This deal is of significant market interest for two reasons.
Firstly, its the first significant acquisition Box has made, its past purchases were more in the form of acqui-hires, but this one comes with tried and tested technology ready to run out of the Box (excuse the pun). In Box’s race to profitability, it made sense to keep a tight hold on the purse strings, but now that the firm is profitable (and secured more financing recently), they can afford now to be more ambitious in their M&A outlook. Secondly, the acquisition fills out a previously awkward gap in the Box portfolio. If Box is to position itself as the Content Cloud of choice, it needed to add this functionality to its already broad ECM’like capabilities.
However, the acquisition interests Deep Analysis for a couple of different reasons to the two above. Firstly, the fact that Box is going to bundle eSignature services into its Business & Enterprise offerings. That is huge, as one of the primary obstacles to eSignature adoption has been the cost and complexity of installing, running, and paying for electronic signatures. In effect, Box will be making this just another feature function to its commercial customers. Secondly, and somewhat longer term, is the fact that SignRequest has already dipped its toes in the Blockchain waters, providing integration for developers to the LTO Network, which is widely used in Europe by both private and public sector organizations.
The focus at Box will be on integrating the two companies and meeting a General Availability launch date this summer. But over time, If leveraged wisely, that blockchain experience could be used to augment the eSignature capabilities and security, compliance, and even record management functionality. We have followed Box since its early days and know the firm and its products well, at heart it is an innovative company, but over the past few years, the focus has rightly been on the bottom line. Though I am sure that will still be a priority, this announcement tells us to expect more in terms of positive service changes over the coming year.
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