Box added new back-end functionality to its cloud-service platforms on May 9 by acquiring little-known HTML5 developer tool provider Crocodoc and all seven of its employees for financial terms that were undisclosed.
Crocodoc's cloud-based service converts Microsoft Office and PDF documents into HTML5 code for viewing in browsers.
"You probably haven't heard of us directly, but you probably use apps from some of our customers," Crocodoc co-founder and CEO Ryan Damico told eWEEK. "We're a behind-the-scenes platform that enables various products such as LinkedIn and Blackboard to embed documents into Web and mobile apps."
Six-year-old, San Francisco-based Crocodoc has served hundreds of millions of document previews in the last two years alone, Damico said. The cloud-based tool enables HTML5 document conversion for Web applications that include Yammer, Facebook, LinkedIn, Edmodo and Blackboard, all of which will continue to be supported.
Crocodoc's open-standards IP for extracting and rendering documents will provide higher-quality document viewing for Box's customers, Box Vice President of Engineering Sam Schillace said. Box customers comprise more than 15 million individual users and about 150,000 businesses—including major brands such as Gap, McAfee, Schneider Electric and Pacific Gas & Electric Co.
For example, if you use LinkedIn's recruiter function and upload a resume, LinkedIn will send that resume to Crocodoc as a PDF or Word file. Crocodoc then converts the original file into HTML5 and ships it back to LinkedIn, which then displays the HTML5 doc on the site or on the mobile app.
"You as an end user get to see the document embedded into the whole LinkedIn recruiter experience," Damico said. "It looks just like you expected it to in Word, but you're not downloading any files, and you're not at a loss if you're on an Android device."
Not only will Crocodoc be integrated into the entire Box cloud service, but it also becomes a stand-alone platform offering, so that Box can provide and/or license HTML5 document viewing to third-party applications across the Web and mobile devices.
The full Crocodoc team will join Box, with Damico serving as Box's director of platform.
"Content sits at the center of every business, and nearly every business application," Box co-founder and CEO Aaron Levie said. "We're extending Crocodoc's HTML5 technology to every developer in the world who's building an application that touches content."