Aaron Levie, cofounder and CEO of enterprise cloud-storage company Box, has never shied away from talking about competitor Microsoft in the past (see “The Continuous Productivity of Aaron Levie”). Today he offered some advice to the elder company’s leaders: get used to the fact that businesses want to use workplace software from a number of companies, not buy it all from one corporate giant.
Speaking at MIT Technology Review’s annual EmTech conference at MIT, Levie—named one of 2014’s Innovators Under 35—was responding to the question of what he would advise Microsoft do to remain relevant as an enterprise company. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella took over the reins earlier this year and has devoted himself to focusing on the company’s mobile and cloud businesses, but startups like Box have rapidly gained ground. Levie is poised to lead his company to an initial public offering.
Companies today prize innovation from workplace software vendors over unified multifunctional platforms, Levie said. Vertical integration tends to be the death of innovation, and to lock companies into buying from only one supplier, he argued. “You do not get innovation in an environment where you don’t have competition, and customers recognize that,” he said.