“I think I’m just a very boring realist,” said Aaron Levie, CEO of Box, over a 44-minute Zoom call last Monday. He was talking about the yearslong crypto craze, which may have finally sobered up amid the market dives and token implosions of the last several weeks. Levie is one of the few leaders in tech who has consistently called BS on the crypto bull run. And he’s not changing his mind now.
“I have an incredibly simple mind on this, which is that businesses build products that consumers or other businesses pay for. And when you kind of look at it from this very simple lens, then you say, ‘OK, what sort of productive use cases have we seen thus far?’ And I’d say what we’ve seen is excitement around trading of digital assets.”
On the one hand, this is exactly the posture you might expect from someone running a business as prosaic as Box, a publicly traded digital file management company valued at nearly $4 billion. But Levie always has been a live wire, a voluble commentator on all things tech. I asked Levie to jump on a Zoom call with me, and quickly I discovered two surprising things. First, at 37, Levie’s signature Framptonesque explosion of hair has given way to matted-down respectability, more gray than not. Second, there’s a well-thought-out rationale behind Levie’s crypto skepticism that goes beyond Twitter performance artistry.