by Matt Kapko

Box CEO courts enterprise cloud customers

Apr 23, 20153 mins
Cloud ComputingCloud SecurityCloud Storage

Businesses spend tens of billions of dollars a year trying to solve new problem with old technology, according Box CEO Aaron Levie, who says his company provides cutting-edge tech that addresses evolving enterprise storage needs.

Aaron Levie, cofounder and CEO of cloud-storage provider Box, got some laughs from the crowd at Re/code’s enterprise conference Tuesday night when he said he’s been thinking about files for 10 and a half years. He wasn’t joking.

After almost a decade in business, Box went public earlier this year and now has more than 34 million users, as well as 45,000 companies on its platform. During the 30 minutes he spent on stage being interviewed by Re/code Co-executive Editor Walt Mossberg, Levie was repeatedly asked why a company should choose Box over a more established, trusted competitor.

Security is priority for Box

The infrastructure security and the architecture of company systems are important, but business customers also need a storage platform that provides them with specific tools to protect corporate information. Levie says Box lets enterprise customers “take security into their own hands.”

“Large enterprises that have heavy security or regulatory requirements now get all the benefit of our cloud platform but with the security and control” of the more widely adopted systems, he says. 

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The company’s key security differentiators include built-in, native information rights management, granular-level individual permissions and a security event system that goes deeper than Box’s competitors, according to Levie. Box also introduced a new technology that lets account administrators manage their own encryption keys, and Levie says it’s a first for the industry.

“Our competitors are way more focused on personal use cases,” Levie says

Box as a catalyst for massive disruption in enterprise

Multinational corporations have different, often unique, needs for data storage and collaboration platforms. Box focuses on that specialized area because it sees significant opportunity to disrupt legacy enterprise players. 

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Microsoft is also targeting the enterprise and is probably Box’s primary competitor, according Levie, but the competition hasn’t impacted Box’s momentum. “When we go after them in the enterprise, and we go head-to-head, we win two-thirds of the time,” he says.

Levie is upbeat about Box’s future because he says it effectively addresses two major forces of change in business: how individuals work internally and how competitive forces impact the way customers buy goods or services. 

“When you look at that legacy investment in infrastructure, storage and content management software, tens of billions of dollars are being spent every year in enterprise on the traditional way of solving a problem,” Levie says. “We still have large amounts of incumbent technology that the world is going to be able to move off of.”

Box says rivals throw old solutions at new problems

An increasing number of large enterprises and blue chip companies recognize the need to develop new technologies and services rather than rely on the assets they already have to throw at these problems, according to Levie.

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Incumbent companies don’t stand a chance at being competitive if they rely on old legacy systems to meet consumers’ new expectations, he says. “There’s no way to build world class user experience and digital experiences if the underlying systems that you’re building this off of have been around for decades.” 

When Levie was pressed to explain why a company should choose Box’s platform over a solution from IBM, for example, he talked about the very nature of Box helps distinguish it from legacy providers. “We were born in a cloud world … so everything about our architecture and our systems has been invented exactly for solving this problem,” he says.