Box CEO Aaron Levie talks about life after the IPO

For the rest of the world, waiting for and watching the Box IPO earlier this year may have been high drama.

But to founder and CEO Aaron Levie, not much has changed “on a philosophical level,” and the mission stays the same: Help developers build cool enterprise apps that people like using.

And while the company is the subject of high expectations, they’re borne of the huge opportunity in front of Box — getting a bigger share of the $US330 billion and growing spent on software every year by providing developers with the invisible plumbing behind business software.

“There’s only going to be a few underlying platforms,” Levie says. “I don’t think the IPO changed that.”

Which means that any expectations are a function of the fact that the world is waking up to what software can do for them and their business, and the fact that Box is positioned to take good advantage, he says.

“We’re in an industry that is changing so rapidly that it makes sense to have high expectations,” Levie says.

And the opportunities to grow even further are huge, he says. There are two fundamental things that Box needs to see happen to drive growth, Levie says:

  1. Enterprises, especially those in industries like commercial real estate or construction where modern technology hasn’t really penetrated at all, have to realise that mobile devices and cloud computing, where applications and files are stored on and run from huge efficient data centres elsewhere, are real things that can help their business. This is the focus of the company’s annual BoxWorks conference.
  2. Developers have to want to use Box to build the apps and tools that enterprises need to reap those benefits, which is the focus of today’s BoxDev conference.

And while Dropbox, Google Drive, Citrix, and others all provide cloud storage platforms, Levie dismisses them because they’re not focusing on making their technologies as open as Box has.

“I would say we’re the only one taking it seriously enough to be doing it,” Levie says.

Box officially started ten years ago in 2005, but Levie and co-founders Dylan Smith, Sam Ghods, Jeff Queisser actually met in middle school, and maintained their friendship through the years. All four still continue to work at Box in executive or chief systems architect roles.

“We grew up together, now we get to grow a company together,” Levie says. “We never imagined this kind of scale.”

As for the $US40 million fund that Box is raising in partnership with Bessemmer Venture Partners and Emergence Capital to finance startups working on top of the Box service, Levie disagrees with the idea that it’s the now-public Box passing along a figurative lightsaber to future enterprise software startups.

Instead, he says, it’s a way for Box to get more useful stuff running on its platform as it seeks to snake into more businesses.

“We’re just trying to get the lightsaber from [Salesforce CEO Marc] Benioff at this point,” Levie says.

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