"To our surprise and delight, early users and IT administrators at sizable enterprises helped us refine and evolve our product to meet their needs and, by extension, the needs of other large organizations," he added. "It's been a thrilling ride. But it's also just beginning."
The filing includes a list of risks and challenges the company faces, including its losses, its limited operating history, the intense competition, the dangers of mismanaging its fast growth and concerns about security and potential breaches.
The IPO will be the latest barometer of investor enthusiasm for technology stocks, and an indicator of how the future may look for this segment of the market.
"There are a lot of vendors and offerings in this space. Many will fall by the wayside as leaders emerge," Forrester's Koplowitz said via email. "Depending upon how well this IPO goes for Box, the landscape in general will feel the effect in terms of valuation and future investment opportunities."
For Box, the decision has its potential pluses and minuses. "An IPO signals maturity and stability to the market. That should be a positive for customers and prospects," Koplowitz said.
On the other hand, a publicly traded company has more pressure to deliver quarterly progress and respond to those shareholders, which can affect long-term strategies, he said.
With Box's rise to prominence, Levie has become an industry celebrity. At 29 he is seen as a wunderkind who had the vision to co-found a cloud company and guide it to become a market leader. He and co-founder Dylan Smith, the CFO, were still in college when they started Box.
Last year, Forrester evaluated enterprise storage and file-share products from 16 major vendors and ranked Box at the top. Forrester used criteria like mobile access, administration controls, security, sync capabilities and integration with third-party systems. It also factored in how well it positions the company for future improvements and growth.
Ranking just below Box were EMC's Syncplicity and IBM's Connections enterprise collaboration suite, which has a file sync and share component based on IBM's FileNet architecture. Coming in below were products from Citrix, Accellion, Egnyte and WatchDox, followed by offerings from AirWatch, Alfresco, Dropbox and Salesforce.com.
Other Box competitors include YouSendIt, as well as larger players like Microsoft, with its SkyDrive and SharePoint services; and Google, with Apps and Drive.
Box grew its staff from 369 employees in early 2012 to 972 employees as of Jan. 31, 2014.
The company's largest stakeholder is investment firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson, with 25 percent. U.S. Venture Partners owns 13 percent. Levie has a 4.1 percent stake, and co-founder Smith owns a 1.8 percent slice.
Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse and J.P. Morgan will be "book-running" managers for the offering. BMO Capital Markets will act as lead manager, and Canaccord Genuity, Pacific Crest Securities, Raymond James & Associates and Wells Fargo Securities will act as co-managers.