Investor Ben Horowitz shares startup lessons with Box CEO

Box CEO Aaron Levie asks venture capitalist Ben Horowitz about what Marc Andreessen would sooner bring to a deserted island: Twitter or Bitcoin?


SAN FRANCISCO---Following Box's IPO filing on Monday , analysts and media alike buzzed about the ownership stakes of the cloud company's leaders versus those of its investors.

Perhaps to the dismay of some busy bees, there wasn't much mention of the IPO at the start of Box Dev Day on Wednesday.

But Ben Horowitz, a founding partner of the venerable venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, sat down with Box CEO Aaron Levie for a fireside chat that offered a glimpse of how the firm might look for potential investments in the enterprise tech world.

Horowitz recapped some of the lessons he learned in his Netscape days as well as somewhat candid observations about the enterprise software industry, which Levie cited is worth roughly $320 billion, depending on which analyst report you reference.

Here's a lightning round recap of some of the more memorable sound bites from the conversation:

Who is going to win the mobile platform war: iOS, Android, or Windows Mobile?

Horowitz argued iOS and Android are way ahead of Microsoft right now. but between the former two, Horowitz highlighted the rise of Android, but warned that "the demise of iOS is greatly exaggerated." 

"Apple's strategy is that they're not going to be the monopoly," Horowitz remarked.

Describing it as a timeless issue, Levie also asked: What advice do you have for a product CEO who wants to stay in control as they scale up?

Horowitz advised that the key is backing off systematically while staying involved, meaning structure the product and then provide reliable touch points where you can guide -- but not doling out instructions randomly in the hallway. 

"That's a hard discipline to learn but critical if you want to run the company for more than a few years," Horowitz said.

Finally, if Marc Andreessen were stuck on a deserted island, which would he take with him: Twitter or Bitcoin?

With a laugh, Horowitz didn't reply with much of an answer, although he leaned toward Twitter as the conversation veered more toward observations about Bitcoin in the enterprise industry.

Horowitz concluded, "The technology is a remarkable computer science breakthrough."