Box CEO Aaron Levie Takes To Quora About His (Sorta) Small IPO Stake: It’s All Gravy

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Reporters and industry watchers go nuts when an S-1 is filed for an initial public offering because there are always a few surprises to be found while digging through the numbers.

The Box IPO filing this past week was no exception. Along with details on Box’s revenue (growing quickly) and bottom line income (still in the red), the filing revealed that Aaron Levie, Box’s well-known and charismatic co-founder and CEO who is indisputably the face of the company, held a smaller stake of the firm than outsiders might have expected.

The S-1 indicates that Levie’s ownership of Box prior to the offering stands at 4.1 percent, and when his unexecuted stock offerings are taken into account, his overall ownership is 5.7 percent. It’s a stake that’s worth more than $100 million, which is of course a lot of money. But Levie’s holdings seem relatively small in light of his contributions to the company and the 25.5 percent stake held by VC investor Draper Fisher Jurvetson.

Someone took to Quora to anonymously wonder, “Aaron Levie is down to a 4% stake heading into the Box IPO. How does he feel watching DFJ and USVP laugh to the bank after 10 years of sweat, blood, and tears?”

Surprisingly, Levie himself pitched in with a reply:

“So far, I have yet to bleed while building Box (well, one time I was late to a meeting and cut myself shaving). And honestly, if anyone is regularly bleeding while building a software company, I would have some serious questions about their strategy and if they’re executing properly. Definitely lots of tears and sweat though. Start your company because you want to change the world, and the rest is gravy.”

It’s a response that’s equal parts funny, clever, and earnest — fun without breaking any big rules (and there are a lot of those, for a company that’s officially on the road to an IPO.) In short, classic Levie.

For more classic Levie, you can watch his fireside chat with TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington from our Disrupt Europe conference this past fall. It was a lively and solid conversation about Box’s past and future that’s fun to re-watch in light of the IPO news this week: