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Box CEO Aaron Levie Credits iPhone, iPad for Breaking Down Corporate Technology Walls

Apple's gear forced businesses to open their networks to more than just Windows PCs, Levie said in an interview with Re/code.


Box CEO Aaron Levie didn’t mind having his Tim Cook interview overshadow his company’s product announcements on Tuesday.

After all, the way Levie sees it, Box owes a lot to Apple.

“It was really the iPad and the iPhone that dismantled the traditional IT infrastructure,” Levie told Re/code. Before that, businesses had locked-down corporate infrastructures limited largely to Windows PCs. Without smartphones and tablets, cloud services are a lot less of a big deal.

“If you don’t have mobility, the cloud is really just an efficiency play,” Levie said.

Levie also owes Apple a debt of gratitude for his keynote format. Before getting to the product announcements, he said he had a few updates — mimicking the “one more thing” format often used by Cook and Steve Jobs before him.

In Box’s update, it noted that it now has 40 million registered users, including more than 50,000 paying corporate customers, among them 52 percent of the Fortune 500. Levie said the company is also now on a $300 million annual revenue run rate. “I think we have put up some pretty solid numbers,” he said.

Nonetheless, Box’s stock is down by roughly half from its peak on the first day of trading in January, closing Tuesday at $12.30 per share.

Levie said that the company had to invest a lot up front to win its big enterprise customers, but that its expenses are coming down as a percentage of revenue.

“Investors over time are going to see how we are driving efficiency,” Levie said, adding a line used by many a CEO whose stock was in the doldrums: “We try not to pay too much attention to the stock price on a day-to-day basis.”

But the real opportunity for Box, Levie said, isn’t just to move the same work to different places; it’s to change the way work is done.

Box’s new products were aimed in that direction. The company announced support for natively playing HD video and displaying medical and 3-D imagery, all from the browser. In addition, the company is launching Box Capture — an iOS app for using a smartphone’s camera to import photos and documents directly into business processes.

Workers are, of course, already doing that with their phones’ cameras, but just in a far less secure way. Typically, workers will simply use the phone’s camera and then email the picture. The new Box app takes the picture and sends it straight to the cloud, a process that not only is more secure and efficient, but meets privacy regulations like the HIPAA rules that govern the medical industry.

“You don’t want to have personal selfies mixed with engineering files,” Levie said.

This article originally appeared on

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