Code42, a Minneapolis software developer, on Tuesday will begin distribution of a product that allows companies and consumers to swiftly synchronize and share large files across mobile devices and computers, jumping into competition with firms like Dropbox and Google.
The product, called SharePlan, is designed to appeal to consumers and corporations by being simple to use while helping IT managers comply with regulations on data security.
The new product holds the potential for a sizable jump in sales for Code42, which has grown to $40 million in revenue last year from $10 million in 2010 — mainly from a data backup product called CrashPlan.
“We feel this is a huge multiplier,” said Mitch Coopet, co-founder and head of product. “If CrashPlan is $1, we think SharePlan could be $2 to $3.”
The company is entering a market space that has become crowded with firms, like Dropbox, that started out in data-sharing and others, like Google, Microsoft and Amazon, that moved into it more recently.
Code42 will use pricing to get attention, charging businesses $10 per user per month for SharePlan. Dropbox’s business product costs $15 per user per month, though the company in August lowered its price to $10 for a product called Dropbox Pro, which can be used by individual-run businesses like real estate agents.
In many businesses, Dropbox over the last few years emerged as the leading way to share big files because its app could be quickly accessed and understood by individual employees. However, that meant a loss of control over data for companies, such as those in health care, education and finance, that must comply with regulations on privacy and data security.
“There are two sets of interests that sometimes compete,” Coopet said. “Companies are trying to meet compliance and regulation needs while end users simply want to get their job done.”
For months, programmers at Code42 have worked with customers to make SharePlan fit the needs of both groups. During that time, they refined the program to anticipate mistakes users could make, such as sending vast quantities of files at once.
“Somebody accidentally shares a folder that has a million files in it. How can the software protect from human mistakes?” Coopet said. “These are the details that you really have to work through and think through.”
SharePlan uses PIN-protected links to make sure that shared files remain private. And when used in businesses that need it, the platform offers a way for IT and legal teams to monitor who is moving files and to where.
The company designed SharePlan to work with CrashPlan in a suite for businesses. The files can be stored in a data system, or cloud, maintained by a business, Code42, or a third-party provider. And, as with CrashPlan, Code42 also will offer SharePlan to consumers who want better protection when they send files to others.
The company is looking into markets where apps that were embraced by employees presented a security risk to corporations. One of them, Coopet said, is notetaking. “How much corporate sensitive information is sitting in the form of random notes in public clouds?” he said.
In 1995, IBM purchased software maker Lotus Development for $3.5 billion, one of the biggest tech acquisitions at that time, mainly because of a product called Lotus Notes that safeguarded the exchange of corporate information. Eventually, Notes lost ground in corporate settings to e-mail and, with the arrival of mobile devices, companies ceded more control of data to employees. Code42 and others are looking to restore some of that security.
“Aren’t the patterns of technology funny?” Coopet said. “There’s a pendulum effect.”