In 2014, when Geert-Jan Persoon, Nick Dessens and Michaël Krens began building their e-signature startup SignRequest in the Netherlands, naysayers warned them about not being able to reach the success of large competitors, like DocuSign.

“In the world of VCs, everybody knows DocuSign, this is our biggest competitor — it is a company that raised a large amount of money — and they would say, “how are you going to hold up,’” Persoon said in an interview with Capital On Stage.

Persoon drowned out their doubts by focusing on scaling SignRequest with no outside funding, according to a 2017 Capital On Stage feature. There’s no public record of the team taking on external funding since then.

In February 2021, SignRequest was acquired by Box, a cloud-management company, for $55 million.

Why Box acquired SignRequest

At the time of sale, SignRequest had 500,000 users that were set to integrate with Box’s 100,000+ existing customers, many of whom were large businesses.

In a statement about the acquisition, the SignRequest founding team said the exit will offer the company “faster and more innovation.”

Box’s decision to acquire SignRequest adds e-signatures to its capabilities, a significant step towards Box’s long-term goals, according to CEO Aaron Levie.

“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,” Levie said in a TechCrunch article.

“Imagine one platform that can power the entire lifecycle of content. E-signature has been a major missing link for critical workflows,” he said.

Persoon, Krens and Dessens did not respond to requests for comment for this story.