Steven Sinofsky, ex-head of the Microsoft Windows division, does not seem to be waiting by the phone for the corporate board of his former employer to call him about its soon-open position of CEO. This week, he signed up as an adviser to cloud-based
and collaboration provider Box.
Box CEO Aaron Levie announced the appointment Thursday, saying in a statement that Sinofsky would "lend his experience and insights as we take Box's product and platform strategies and organizations to the next level."
Levie went on to explain that his relationship with Sinofksy began last fall when he sent an unsolicited Facebook message to the former Microsoft executive. "Not only did Steven not block me," Levie wrote, "he graciously responded," adding that Sinofsky later visited Box's headquarters to see what the company was doing.
Sinofsky was the key force behind Windows 8. The operating system's emphasis on touchscreens in particular has received lukewarm response from businesses that are not eager to buy new machines, conduct new training, or risk productivity that might be better handled by a keyboard and mouse. Sinofsky's resignation at Microsoft came shortly after the launch of Windows 8, and the timing helped fuel speculation about the relationship between the two events. Sinofsky, however, has said the resignation was his decision.
Levie described Sinofksy as having a "stronger and more-fluid vision for the future of computing than almost anyone I've met." Levie said that meshed with the vision at Box, where the company is focused on "pushing the boundaries" of how modern workplaces operate.
In addition to Windows, Sinofsky has played key roles in the Microsoft Office and SkyDrive teams. The addition of Sinofsky to Box has raised speculation about the online storage company's next move. If businesses store many of their documents in Box's cloud, the thinking goes, then it's a short step for Box to begin offering its own productivity apps and other services for those documents. In that case, Sinofsky could be a useful guide.
Last week, Sinofsky said he had joined the board of venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz as a partner. His Microsoft contract prevents him from working with any Microsoft competitor until the end of this year.
The addition of Sinofsky is only the latest news out of the active Box. Earlier this month, for instance, the company announced a new Starter plan for the small-business market that was intended to remove barriers to adoption.
It also recently launched a new educational ecosystem to tie together the hundreds of K-12 institutions and more than 100 universities that use the service. The initiative included a new program of OneCloud app partners that are creating new, Box-utilizing educational software.