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Aaron Levie

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Profile

Aaron Levie is an American entrepreneur based out of Los Altos, California. He is one of the founders of remote storage titan Box, and regarded as a driving force in the world of cloud storage. Levie grew up just southeast of Seattle, Washington, where he met his close friend and future business partner Dylan Smith. It was when Levie relocated to California in 2003 to attend The University of Southern California that he would realize the idea that would secure his place in the tech world. Initially pursuant to a business degree, Levie would take leave his junior year to devote his attention entirely to Box.

During his studies at USC, Levie became increasingly frustrated with transporting data and work files between machines. Students often collaborated on projects and would use various machines throughout the day—without centralized cloud storage at the time, this meant students were constantly pedaling data between locations. For a class project, Levie was to identify a problem in an industry and determine a solution. Upon examining the problem at hand, it was as though the answer to his woes was before him. He quickly sought the input of Dylan Smith, who the decided to get onboard and get Box off the ground.

It was an initial investment of $350,000 from Texas entrepreneur and billionaire Mark Cuban that would allow Levie and Smith to get the ball rolling. Soon after securing the investment, Levie began locating talented developers and friends who would join his team, some of which even leaving academia to get some of the action. At first, Box provided cloud storage to the end-level consumer, but soon realized a niche in the enterprise market begging to be occupied. Box now operates under a freemium business model—users are given a nominal allotment of cloud storage for free, though additional storage and features require a monthly paid subscription.

Box is currently valued just shy of $2 billion, and filed for an IPO in early 2014. The data storage behemoth now boasts around 40% of Fortune 500 companies as its clientele, and has continued personnel expansion in both domestic and overseas markets. Companies such as Google, Proctor & Gamble and General Electric are among Box’ enterprise customers.

Companies and Investments

Box (Co-Founder, CEO)

Lessons Learned

Aaron Levie and the group of friends he enlisted to create Box.net knew from an early point they were on to something. While Levie knew going all-in on Box would be a risk, he knew he was looking at a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. With that, he looked to the community of friends he had, namely Jeff Queisser and Sam Ghods. They were both brought on to build the company, and became integral parts to its success. Levie knew he needed a tight-knit team to move the company forward, and acknowledged the talent present in his community. Being able to spot and utilize talent in such a way is integral to success in a place like Silicon Valley.

Inspiring Quotes

There are no longer mature industries; rather, there are mature ways of doing business.

Michael Porter

There is rarely a good time to do hard things, and America wont advance if legislators act like seat-warmers.

Rupert Murdoch

The past can be a poor guide for the future if the future offering is materially different than the past.

Bill Gurley

Aaron Levie's Quotes

The last 100+ years of economics taught us that price drives demand. Now were learning that convenience drives it even more.

Aaron Levie

When trying to change an industry from the inside, its easy to see why it wont work. When youre outside, you cant believe it wont work.

Aaron Levie

Just be careful kids: one day youre having fun playing Minecraft. The next day youre setting Internet Explorer as your default browser.

Aaron Levie

’Does it better’ will always beat ‘did it first’.

Aaron Levie

Influential Books

George Orwell - 1984 (Signet Classics)

Michael E. Porter - How Information Gives You Competitive Advantage

Mentors

Bill Gurley, Mark Zuckerberg, Rupert Murdoch, Elon Musk

References


Technical

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