Aaron Levie and Box makes nice with Microsoft
Aaron Levie, the effervescent chief executive of Box, is making nice with Microsoft. On Tuesday, Levie announced two new integrations with Office 365, allowing users to open, edit, share, and save files from Box within Office applications. Customers will also be able to share links to convert document attachments in Outlook to shared links via Box.
In the past, Levie has been known to bash Microsoft (MSFT) for failing to adapt to the move to mobile and the cloud quickly enough. But speaking at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen on Tuesday afternoon, he said partnering with Microsoft is consistent with his company’s strategy.
“We’re seeing a different Microsoft and customers are seeing a different Microsoft,” Levie said. (The CEO also said he has been on Windows 7 for many years and uses a PC at work, along with an Apple MacBook Air and iPhone.)
Levie also announced that Box will remove storage limits for all business customers. That means corporate users (those who pay $15 per month per user for the company’s service) can now make use of uncapped storage capacity. The move comes at a time when many formidable players–from Google (GOOG) to Microsoft to Dropbox to, more recently, Amazon (AMZN)–have jumped into the file storage and collaboration space. According to Levie, storage has always been a commodity and unlimited storage (at least for business users) was inevitable.
“We always said we’re not really building a storage company,” Levie Said. “We’re building a company that lets you do different things with your content.”
Despite its foiled IPO attempt, Box has enjoyed success with larger and larger customers–including a newly-inked deal with General Electric (GE). At today’s Fortune conference, Levie said Box’s business is also growing overseas and recently launched in Japan. Box was recently listed as a “leader” in research firm Gartner’s first-ever “Magic Quadrant” for the enterprise file synchronization and sharing space.
“There are only four quadrants and we’re in the best one,” said Levie.
As for the company’s IPO plans, Levie admitted timing was unfortunate, but said that Box’s filed S1 was misinterpreted.
“We certainly filed at a time where we saw a high-growth tech market correction,” said Levie. “We couldn’t have known. The other element was if you look at the S1 itself it was over last year which happened to be a year of very high growth and high investment for our business. We got two knocks on that.”
On a lighter tone, Levie also shared that he writes all of his own (highly entertaining) tweets. When asked if he’d still be CEO of Box in five years, he said he thinks he’d be at Box for decades: “There are very few platforms that I think are going to merge in the next few years and going to redefine enterprise.”
Whether Box will become the next big enterprise platform remains to be seen. But it’s clear that Levie has changed his tune a bit–he now realizes he needs to partner with the current big enterprise platform, Microsoft, in order to keep growing his company.