Aaron Levie

CEO and Co-founder of Box

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON January 20, 2016


Aaron Levie@levie · CEO, Box
Hi, I'm Aaron Levie, lead magician and CEO at Box. Looking forward to today's chat!
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Welcome, Aaron! You're known for witty, #viral tweets. Who on Twitter inspires you? BONUS QUESTION: Are you @StartupLJackson?
Garrison Snelling@dev_gar · Co-Founder, Opel Pay
When can I have your job? Say next week?
Robin Solis@robin_solis · Co-Founder, Synchronicity.co
@levie @rrhoover negative motivation works well too.
Niv Dror@nivo0o0 · VC at Shrug Capital
@levie a few deep thoughts: 1) Your tweets are an inspiration. 2) When you were alone at the Box office and streamed yourself doing magic tricks was one of my favorite moments at Meerkat :) https://twitter.com/Nivo0o0/stat... 3) Where do you get the cloud socks? 🤔
Adam Marx@adammarx13 · Freelance writer/editor and music addict
@nivo0o0 @levie I too have often wondered about the socks. ;D
Erin Jerri@erin_jerri
@nivo0o0 @levie I have some thx to #BoxWorks. @Box #boxlove
Cuan-Chai Megghross@iamcuan · Angel Investor, Brainyloft
@levie What do you do to prepare for the day to ensure maximum productivity?
Aaron Levie@levie · CEO, Box
@iamcuan Generally I wake up and read email in bed for about 30 minutes (bad habit, I know), but it allows me to knock out most key issues right away (p.s. iphone 6+ is super helpful). Then I head into work (sometimes have to Uber to get more work done in the car), and grab 2 cups of coffee when I arrive at the office. From there it's about usually 7-8 hours of meetings with various teams, after which I try and take a nap for ~20 minutes, grab dinner, and I'm back at it for another 4-5 hours.
Aaron Levie@levie · CEO, Box
@levie @iamcuan Oh also, I keep a list of about 50-60 things that are ongoing topics/issues/challenges/tasks in the business that I need to resolve. They range from "email X customer" to "figure out next year's product roadmap".
Ronnie Rendel@ronnie86019246 · Yesod of Tevunah, New Era
@levie @iamcuan yeah, small detail. Kinda gives contect to the rest of the 8 + 4 hours of work. Can you give more details on what things are ongoing topics? It will be ineteresting to define issue granularity for a big enterprise saas ceo.
Sydney Liu@sydney_liu_sl · Co-Founder of Commaful.com
Hi Aaron, Fight On!! Hello from somebody also taking a break from USC! You started a company in a time where there wasn't a lot of startup advice floating around. Probably fewer mentors too. As an inexperienced and young founder, how did you learn the ropes? There are so many possible ways to go wrong when building a startup. Where there any "hacks" or things you did that you think helped you succeed in learning the ropes better than most founders? Thanks and congrats on the journey! Been following the Box journey. Keep up the hilarious tweets. Sydney Liu
Preston Long-Lamoureux@pmlonglamoureux · @Prog_Code Staffer | Progressive
If you could change one decision that you have made in your past regarding @Box , what would it be and how would that change where or what @Box is today?
Aaron Levie@levie · CEO, Box
@pmlonglamoureux Listening to our early customers even more earlier on -- we wavered a bit too much in the initial years on our strategy, and we could have moved much faster in the first 1.5-2 years.
Yoshi@dnxx28 · Freerance Engineer
Hi Aaron-san! Thank you for coming and long time no see! I'm Japanese Yoshi who asked you once at Aoyama Spiral in Tokyo when you came for Startup X last year^^! I plan to make XaaS service so I want you to ask two things. 1 : Box is used by various companies , industry, institution. So how did you expand Box and why don't you teach me how you payed attention for rival company and your clients? 2 : What Japanese foods did you eat when you came 2 Japan last year and do you wanna come 2 Japan again?
Cuan-Chai Megghross@iamcuan · Angel Investor, Brainyloft
@levie What type of struggles and roadblocks did you face building Box in the very beginning?
Aaron Levie@levie · CEO, Box
@iamcuan Initially our biggest challenge was that we didn't know what we wanted to be when we "grew up". We started as a consumer product that also worked for businesses, and eventually (about 1.5 years into the business) we determined that balancing these two very different worlds and use-cases wasn't going to lead to world domination. So we went back and forth a ton in the early days, but ultimately decided to "listen" to the market and go after a space where we felt we could best innovate (and compete). That was the enterprise market.
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
@levie thanks for being here! 🙌 What has been the most memorable or surprising moment of your career to date?
Aaron Levie@levie · CEO, Box
@ems_hodge I'm fortunate that there have been a lot of memorable moments -- one of the more fun ones was interviewing Tim Cook at BoxWorks last fall, though! And doing a "board meeting" on the court of a Mavericks game when Mark Cuban initially invested.
Erin Jerri@erin_jerri
@levie @ems_hodge Aw, I saw that at #BoxWorks, so awesome!
Gabriel Lewis@gabriel__lewis · 🤔
@levie What does your hiring process look like ?
Jason Hitchcock@jasonhitchcock · Problem Solver @ Bebo
@levie What's the biggest misconception you see in the press about Box?
Aaron Levie@levie · CEO, Box
@jasonhitchcock That we somehow "sell storage". We obviously use storage to store files (it would be hard to run Box otherwise), but all of our value proposition is in our software layer. The vast majority of our R&D time and innovation goes toward data security, workflow, content management, collaboration, etc. -- that's ultimately what customers pay for, not the storage. And in fact the very trend that most people think could be bad for us -- Amazon lowers its storage prices/etc. -- is GOOD for us, as we leverage them in some parts of our stack.
Sam Legge@d0b0 · Product Manager, Thalmic Labs
What's your thoughts on commoditization of your and Dropbox's business vertical. Bonus Question: What's your thoughts on Cloud Storage's involvement in VR/AR?
Aaron Levie@levie · CEO, Box
@d0b0 I can't speak to Dropbox's commoditization, but please see: https://www.producthunt.com/live...
Steve Young@steve_young · Founder/janitor of Synek
You have a very "funjoyable" personality. How do you have fun while also allow people to take you seriously?
Aaron Levie@levie · CEO, Box
@steve_young That is a ridiculous word, I hope you invented it and it's not a meme I'm missing. There are plenty of serious things in life and business, but it's super important to have fun with what you do and not take it too seriously, otherwise what's the point!
Cam Secore@camsecore
Hey Aaron, I'm a huge fan of yours! Box's stock price hit an all-time low today even though you guys seem to be headed in a good direction. How frustrating is this for you?
Aaron Levie@levie · CEO, Box
@camsecore The market is crazy right now, but the key is to not focus on the stock market (or your stock price) in the near-term. You have to have conviction around what you're building and make sure you're executing for the long run. All the best companies in the world have dealt with either being somewhat misunderstood (see Netflix, Facebook, etc.) or dealt with crazy stock market volatility, and they've had to get through it. The cool thing is having been working at Box for 11 years now, we've dealt with MUCH greater challenges. Like raising our Series B :-)
Kasperi Apell@kasperiapell
Hi Aaron! Any advice for cold calling/emailing businesses to sell them your product? Thanks for doing this!
Zach Cmiel@zach_cmiel · CEO, PoKoBros
Hello! How do you consume your news?? If Twitter, who do you follow??
Hi @levie My question is related to product development. How will you spend your time if you've got one hour to solve a user problem/need? Thanks!
Yazin@yazinsai · Doer
Do you write your own tweets Aaron? No, really .. do you?
Harry Stebbings@harrystebbings · Podcast Host @ The Twenty Minute VC
@levie thanks so much for joining us today. Huge fan of yours and amazing to hear your journey on @karaswisher I would love to hear your thoughts on this: 10 years ago when google gave 1gb for free everyone was so amazed as it was so much better than yahoo. In terms of data and storage what will we have in 10 years that no one will believe today? Would be so amazing to have you on @twentyminutevc would be a huge honour!
Aaron Levie@levie · CEO, Box
@harrystebbings I think in 10 years from now, we won't be thinking about "data storage". Just as you don't think about storage when you use Wikipedia or Facebook or Youtube, you won't be thinking about it for *anything* in 10 years. The economics are simply getting to a point where will be able to store, share, manage any amount of information in the cloud -- what you'll pay for are the differentiated or value-added services that do powerful things to that data, not the right or act to store it.
Kirill Zubovsky@kirillzubovsky · Troublemaker. Founder. Dad
@levie Love this answer because it's really powerful. Essentially says: "Hey, today Dropbox might be a sexy company, but they will soon learn that consumers don't like to pay for things, and in 10 years Box will provide the features that _actual_ paying customers are willing to spend for." Brilliant!
Cuan-Chai Megghross@iamcuan · Angel Investor, Brainyloft
@levie What advice would you give to entrepreneurs of color?