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'Re/code Decode': Box CEO Aaron Levie Says Smaller Seed Rounds = Smarter CEOs

"When you raise $10 million in your seed round, you have too much time, too much luxury to change too many things."


By Silicon Valley standards, 30-year-old Box CEO Aaron Levie is an old man.

"I’m sort of like the older, wiser CEO now," Levie said in this week’s new episode of the "Re/code Decode" podcast. "I’m way older than a lot of these kids."

But listen up, wannabe-unicorn whippersnappers, because Levie now has 11 years of experience, not to mention a company with a $1.5 billion market cap, under his belt. Fitting nicely into Silicon Valley’s favorite tech mythology, Box started in a garage, at a time when funding was harder to come by — especially in a less-than-sexy industry like enterprise software.

Box CEO Aaron Levie Recode

Levie told "Re/code Decode" host Kara Swisher that selling a quarter of Box for $80,000 in those early days was a powerful motivator.

"When you have $80,000 that you’re going to run out of, you make very healthy decisions for your company because that’s a ticking time bomb," he said. "When you raise $10 million in your seed round, you have too much time, too much luxury to change too many things. It doesn’t force you to think fast enough."

He also discussed competition with Dropbox, Google and Microsoft; the new wave of enterprise companies and what will make them successful; and why his oft-biting Twitter account has steered clear of Theranos’ recent struggles. Later on in the show, The Verge’s Lauren Goode joined Kara to talk about the challenges of switching between iOS and Android.

If you like what you hear on "Re/code Decode," you should check out "Re/code Replay," an archive of audio content from our events and interviews by Kara Swisher, Walt Mossberg, Peter Kafka, Ina Fried and more.

Every episode for both shows is available in two places: On the Re/code Radio homepage and on Apple iTunes (here for "Re/code Decode" and here for "Re/code Replay").

You can follow @Recode on Twitter for the latest on upcoming guests.

If you like what we’re doing, please write a review on iTunes — and, if you don’t, just strafe Kara on Twitter. You can also suggest guests for the show there and we’ll try our level best to nab them for a Red Chair interview.

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