Box doubles free storage to 10GB, hits 20M users

The cloud storage service makes its biggest change in three years and tweaks its paid accounts in hopes of appealing to more companies.

Donna Tam
Donna Tam Staff Writer / News
Donna Tam covers Amazon and other fun stuff for CNET News. She is a San Francisco native who enjoys feasting, merrymaking, checking her Gmail and reading her Kindle.
2 min read
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Cloud storage service Box has doubled the amount of storage for personal use and added more business options, the company announced on Wednesday.

This means individuals who store files in the company's cloud for free have access to 10GB instead of 5GB. Box hopes more storage space will attract more consumers who will eventually bring their companies on board.

Box CEO and Co-founder Aaron Levie. James Martin/CNET

"This is an exciting and long-contemplated move, and the biggest change we've made to our offerings since 2010," CEO Aaron Levie wrote in a blog post.

It's a good move for Box if it wants to stay competitive among consumers. Other companies who also provide free personal use accounts and paid business accounts offer more free storage, but the freemium model has served Box well. The company boasts 20 million users and serves 180,000 businesses, including 97 percent of Fortune's top 500 companies. This is up from the 18 million customers, 150,000 businesses, and 92 percent of the Fortune 500 that Box reported five months ago.

"We continue to see a lot of business users get started with the personal version of Box and start sharing content with co-workers, and then they buy into the business plan or enterprise plan," Box's Senior VP of Enterprise Whitney Bouck told CNET.

One of these companies is McAfee, according to Bouck. A lead person on the security software company's marketing team was "fed up with (Microsoft) SharePoint," and discovered Box, she said. He started using it through a free account, sharing and collaborating on files with colleagues, and now the entire team uses Box.

It's another example of how tapping into enterprise IT now means catering to individuals as well as the IT decision makers.

"As enterprise IT continues to change dramatically -- becoming more mobile, open, and "social" -- and as individuals and small businesses have access to the same technology as giants, software is going to become vastly more consumer-oriented and user-driven," Levie wrote.

Box continues to grow with that model. It recently struck a deal with AT&T, which started selling Box to companies through the carrier's channels two months ago. In order to make sure its services can serve both small businesses and huge corporations, Box is also making changes its paid accounts. The company has added a new option called "starter," to its offerings. This account supports small teams of 1 to 10 users, comes with 100GB of storage and costs $5 per user. Box has also tweaked its "business" plan to allow companies to add on one integration with an enterprise platform.

The idea is to give companies the option of choosing smaller storage plans without losing out on key integration features. There's also an option to create an "elite" or customized plan.

"We've taken the size of the company out of the equation," Bouck said.

Box's new account options. Box