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Box CEO Aaron Levie: The post-PC era and our partnerships will help us win

John Gallant and Matt Rosoff, CITEworld | April 5, 2013
It's no surprise that Box, the content management and collaboration company born in the cloud, has met with so much success among small-to-medium businesses. The service provides SMBs with the kind of enterprise-class content capabilities that they didn't have the money and resources to deploy before.

On the Microsoft side, or the vendors that have traditionally played on the software side of the space, Microsoft has a set of unique challenges that are specifically slowing them down, which is that they are not the de-facto post-PC platform. Apple and Google are far more the leaders in that space. They have an issue where their operating system business is ceding to two other platforms and they've also had to go through a software delivery disruption, which is obviously instead of building on-premise technology they now have to build software in the cloud. That was an easier transition that I think they've actually been going through pretty effectively, quite frankly. I do give them kudos for making that transition. They're no longer telling the world that cloud is not the future. They are absolutely investing in and they're working aggressively to make sure that they're building for that future world.

But the challenge is most of their business was being driven by the operating system and a few core applications that are being disrupted because of post-PC and mobile. It's not actually obvious what they do because of that. On one hand they can build applications for other platforms like Apple and Google. If they do that, all they're going to do is make those other platforms more viable and more compelling, which means you have even less of a reason to go buy the mother ship operating system. But if they don't support it then what ends up happening to some other core business areas that they often have been well known for? They have a huge paradox that they're facing, which is that any move they make will not produce the same kind of level of dominance that they once had. That's not an easy thing to grapple with. That is not a straightforward answer, and when they're competing with companies like Box, where we have a very straightforward path that doesn't really have any contradictions to any of our legacy business models because we have no legacy business models. We're going to be moving at full speed to make sure we're building the most innovative product and platform that works across all devices and environments.

MR: I read recently you were testing some internal apps that sound like they might expand what you're doing. There's a possibility you could get into some content creation stuff, or there's a possibility you could get into some other types of collaboration with more real-time communication. Are you thinking in those adjacent markets at all?

AL: We're definitely thinking in those markets. We've long had a view that more and more content creation will be cloud first. And what we mean by that is data won't just start on your desktop and then be transferred to the cloud It will actually be started in a cloud-native environment. So if you think about that kind of transition that's going to occur, the value proposition that we have to customers is we are the place where you share and store your information. So very naturally we might also need to be or want to be a place where you can create that information as well. We're actually exploring a lot of different directions around that. I would say that anything we do in this space will be far more oriented around our platform more than anything else. Our view is that we want to be a platform for this content creation and content collaboration, but occasionally you have to go build out proof of concept or applications that can help lead people to this type of future. We're absolutely exploring different kinds of technology there, but certainly nothing that I can announce or talk too much about right now obviously.


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