Box announced this morning that it has agreed to acquire e-signature startup SignRequest for $55 million. The acquisition gives the company a native signature component it has been lacking and opens up new workflows for the company.
Box CEO Aaron Levie says the company has seen increased demand from customers to digitize more of their workflows, and this acquisition is about giving them a signature component right inside Box that will be known as Box Sign moving forward. “With Box Sign, customers can have a seamless e-signature experience right where their content already lives,” Levie told me.
While Box has partnerships with other e-signature vendors, this gives it one to call its own, one that will be built into Box starting this summer. As we have learned during this pandemic, the more work we can do remotely, the safer it is. Even after the pandemic ends and we get back to more face-to-face interactions, being able to do things fully in the cloud and removing paper from the workflow will speed up everything.
“The massive push to remote work effectively instantly highlighted for every enterprise where their digital workflows were breaking down. And e-signature was a major part of that — too many industries still rely on paper-based processes,” he said.
Levie says that the signature component has been a key missing piece from the platform. “As for our platform, when you look at Snowflake, they’re the data cloud. Salesforce is the sales cloud. Adobe is the marketing cloud. We want to build the content cloud. Imagine one platform that can power the entire lifecycle of content. E-signature has been a major missing link for critical workflows,” he said.
He believes this will open up the platform for a number of scenarios, that while possible before, could not flow as easily between Box components. “Having SignRequest gets us more natively into mission-critical workflows like customer contracts, vendor onboarding, healthcare onboarding and supply chain collaboration,” Levie explained.
It’s worth noting that Dropbox acquired HelloSign for $230 million two years ago to provide it with a similar kind of functionality and workflow capability, but analyst Alan Pelz-Sharpe from Deep Analysis, a firm that follows the content management market, says this wasn’t really in reaction to that.
“I think what is interesting here is that Box is going to integrate SignRequest and bundle it as part of the standard service. That’s what really caught my eye as the challenge with e-sig is that it’s typically a separate product and so gets limited use. They bought it partly in response to Dropbox, but it was a hole that needed fixing regardless so would have done so anyway,” Pelz-Sharpe explained.
As for SignRequest, the company was founded in the Netherlands in 2014. Neither PitchBook nor Crunchbase has a record of it raising funds. The plan is for the company’s employees to join Box and help build the signature component that will become Box Sign. According to a message to customers on the company website, existing customers will have the opportunity over the next year to move to Box Sign, and get all of the other components of the Box platform.
Levie says the basic Box Sign function will be built into the platform at no additional charge, but there will be more advanced features coming that they could charge for. The deal is expected to close soon with the SignRequest team remaining in The Netherlands.