5 questions with Aaron Levie

VC-backed Box.net last week hired tech veteran Dan Levin as COO in, perhaps, what is another sign that the startup is headed for more growth.

Levin, who was already a member of the board, was previously with Intuit. He joins the Box staff with a mission to keep the company’s growth headed in the right direction, says co-founder and CEO Aaron Levie.

Co-founders Levie and Dylan Smith, CFO, started the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company in 2005 as a project in college, and the company is now busting out at the seams, with more than 90 employees and plans to relocate down the street to larger digs. The new locale will still be within walking distance for Levie and Smith.

PE Week Managing Editor Alastair Goldfisher recently visited with Levie, 25, who drank a sugar-free Red Bull while he talked about the company’s growth and what the hire of Levin means for the startup.

Q: How has your year been going?A: So far, 2010 has been a pivotal year for Box. We closed $15 million in Series C funding, made major improvements to our platform, grew our team to 100 people, and brought on big customers like Nokia, Coca Cola, Audi and Proctor & Gamble.

So basically we have the resources, product, talent and customers to grow Box into a world class enterprise software company.

Q: Why hire Levin now?A: The key now to our growth is executing on our vision, and that’s where Dan comes in. He has held executive leadership positions at a number of venture-backed startups, and managed the Quickbooks business at Intuit that brought in hundreds of millions in revenue. As COO, he’ll be responsible for building out the organization and helping us generally run the business.

This means that I’ll be able to better focus my attention on our product, platform and marketing, which will be absolutely integral to Box’s success.

Q: You mentioned your $15 million funding round from Scale Venture Partners, Draper Fisher Jurvetson and U.S. Venture Partners, bringing your VC funding total to about $31 million. Any future plans for more fund-raising?A: After our Series C round, our company got really fat after that. We grew a lot. That’s the paradox of operating a lean startup. As you grow, you get more customers, and you need more capital to support your growth and to continue growing.

But we have a healthy amount of capital now and for the foreseeable future. We have no fund-raising plans for at the least the next six months or so.

Q: What have you learned from working with the VCs on your board?A: It’s all about speed of execution. Josh Stein [a managing director of DFJ and a board member at SugarCRM], for example, understands how to manage growth effectively and that we have to be able to make decisions quickly. That, again, is why we have hired Dan right now. We’re becoming more product-focused, looking at growing and making smart decisions. Dan comes from Intuit, a customer-centric organization, and he understands what it’s like.

Q: What’s your exit strategy?A: If you look at the market of information management in the cloud, we’re still in the beginning stages of growing this market. It’s difficult now to think about exits. We’re so focused on growing this company, we haven’t thought about whether we’ll exit through an IPO or an acquisition.