Published On: Tue, May 14th, 2013

28 years old Aaron Levie begins to expand out of the Box

Just 28 years old, Aaron Levie is net worth: $100 Million (est.), now regarded as being among the leaders of the new generation of American online entrepreneurs, particularly in cloud storage.

Now Levie has taken his first major step in four years in the expansion of his company with the acquisition of have acquired Crocodoc, a document annotation company who will provide an excellent complement to their existing services.

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The acquisition of Crocodoc, a small start-up provide fast pace technology that has been especially developed to allow subscribers viewing documents on the world’s leading websites, taking in such highflyers Facebook and Dropbox.

According to Levie Crocodoc will provide Box’s subscribers with a variety of interactive features that were not previously available to them, such as the ability to annotate documents or create slide shows. Apparently of particular interest to Levie and his partner Dylan Smith is aspects of Crocodoc’s technology that provide subscribers with the ability to convert documents in such formats as Microsoft Word and Adobe PDF into formats lend themselves more to for the interactive Web.

While the financial details of the acquisition remain confidential, industry estimates reckon that Box paid somewhere in the low millions to acquire the company, founded only in 2007 by four students studying engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who had succeeded in raising an estimated $1 million from angel investors to establish the company.

Aaron Levie did hasten to point out that existing licensing deals that Crocodoc holds with their existing customers, including Yammer, SAP and the LinkedIn Corp, would continue uninterrupted although plans are that the technology developed by Crocodoc will be marketed under the Box label.

Despite being relative newcomers to the fast pace world of online business, the Crocodoc acquisition is already Box’s second , having stepped in to acquire another start up company known as Incredo in 2009. Incredo’s activities are also focused on the specialist field of document and media viewing.

When announcing the takeover of Crocodoc Levie predicted that as Box continues on its expansion drive, if the occasion arises to acquire a company product is compatible with theirs, the company will certainly give it their serious consideration.

 

The boys at Box

Although they are inclined to keep their financial situation close to their chest, the boys at Box are known to have raised a more than $300 million from investors with their most recent financial injection of $150 million being put together by private equity firm General Atlantic. In the past Box has also been the recipient of investments from both Salesforce.com and software giant SAP. Levie is also middle secret that Box is considering launching an IPO sometime during 2014.

That possibility makes it even harder to believe that Levie only took his first tentative steps in the business world in 2004 with the founding of cloud company Box, which today boasts than fourteen million global subscribers. The concept of Box came to Levie and his friend and partner Dylan Smith, who today acts as CFO of the company, while the pair were studying at the University of Southern California.

The pair admit that the original Box concept came to the light of day as a result of a project that they were working on , which was to examine information storage options, particularly for the business world. Initial research carried out by Levie and Smith provided them with a real eye-opener, exactly how fragmented the online data storage sector was at that stage.

Levie, despite still being in his late teens, recognized that he was sitting on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that if handled properly would fundamentally change the way both members of the public as well as business community would be liable to be stored and later accessing their personal and business information in the not too distant future

As the end of 2005 approached, Aaron Levie was confident that he had carried out sufficient ground work to test the market, and took a leave of absence from UCL to test the market potential for Box, which at that time was envisaged to be a simple data storage service where subscribers would pay if fee to store their files online or “in the cloud” as their concept was beginning to be known.

 

Bill Gates style

In true Bill Gates style Levie and Smith incorporated Box in April 2005 initially operating their fledgling operation company out of Smith’s family home, although soon raising sufficient capital to establish their own offices in Berkely, California , thanks to some initial investment from Texas billionaire Mark Cuban.

Box enjoyed the major advantage of being among the newest comers on the market, and within a couple of years the young entrepreneurs arrived at the realization that the growth of the cloud storage market was moving so fast and easy to specialize in providing services exclusively for the business community. To say that their change in direction was a shrewd one with an understatement, with Box today providing services to nine out of ten of all of America’s Fortubne 500 companies. Last year, Box began to expand their activities into Europe, opening of their first office in London, still regarded as being the business capital of Europe.

Such as the success of Box and the recognition of Levie’s incredible vision in driving his company forward to such tremendous success in such a short space of time that his services are very much in demand as a speaker in industry events relating to all aspects of the technology industry as well featuring regularly in such prominent business publications The Washington Post, Fortune, Forbes and the Fast Company magazine.

In 2012, Aaron Levie was named by the Fast Company magazine as one of the Most Creative People in Business list for 2011, while Inc. Magazine named him among the Top 30 Entrepreneurs Under 30. Under Levie’s leadership, Box itself has received numerous industry among them the prestigious San Francisco Business Journal’s Fastest Growing Private Companies award for both 2010 and 2011.

Aaron Levie was born and raised in Seattle, Washington, attending the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California before taking a leave of absence in 2005 to found Box. He has yet to return.

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