Is Aaron Levie Really Thinking Outside the Box?

box-blog427Silicon Valley CEO Aaron Levie dropped out of college ten years ago to start his company, Box. Providing cloud computing services, Levie’s company is currently worth $2.1 billion and services over 40,000 paying customers which includes about half of the Fortune 500. However, it is not meeting growth projections and is counting on creating an ecosystem just as Apple and Microsoft have with their products. Levie argues it can be the center of a new industry “by helping other companies and third-party consultants create applications that can quickly draw off Box’s cloud-based collaboration technology.”

Despite these ambitions, Box has lost $167 million on revenue of $216 million which is still an improvement from the year before. This year, revenue is expected to grow by another 30 percent, “a marked slowdown that Mr. Levie hopes the new developer strategy may also turn around.” These losses scare not only Box, but also the generations of young tech ventures that never experienced the massive downturn that took place between 2000-2001.

Seasoned investors worry that newcomers may not take the risks as seriously. Ultimately, the losses faced by Box and newer tech companies as they rapidly grow are starting to catch up with them, and may be the beginning of a new downward trend in Silicon Valley.

Read the article here on The New York Times

Marketo and LinkedIn Team Up to Offer Personalized Ads

14257556613_4cfd6d3aa7_oMarketo, a digital marketing automation software company, has struck a deal with LinkedIn to use its metrics and database to target ads specifically to LinkedIn, allowing marketers to better hone in on their target market. With GE as its first customer, it is looking forward to engaging consumers with a brand in a more professional context which was previously unavailable. Here are some key points from the article:

  • LinkedIn and Marketo are partnering up: “Marketo brings to the partnership software that automates digital marketing across the Web, email and social and mobile channels. That’s being integrated with LinkedIn’s new ‘Lead Accelerator’ product, which helps marketers deliver more relevant ads by combining data about what part of the brand’s website the person browsed with demographic information from the person’s profile on the LinkedIn professional networking site.”
  • How is this different from LinkedIn’s previous advertising? “The integration essentially bridges paid advertising on LinkedIn with the digital marketing that Marketo is known for and helps advertisers tell a consistent story across those channels, said Marketo Chief Executive Phil Fernandez.”
  • Consumers respond to ads that are consistent through multiple devices: “‘Consumers are expecting relationships to follow them around as they move through all those places,’ Mr. Fernandez said in an interview. ‘We move around devices and apps without thinking about it, but what brands are saying to us doesn’t.’”
  • This advertising strategy adapts for consumers who may take several paths when researching a purchase: “There are multiple paths a customer might take to research and make a purchase decision, including a combination of online channels and offline interactions, like conversations with an actual salesperson, said Andy Markowitz, general manager for GE’s Performance Marketing Labs.”
  • Marketo will not stop with LinkedIn: “For Marketo, the LinkedIn partnership is the latest in a series of deals that aims to help marketers create continuous conversations with customers across digital channels. The company recently reached a deal to integrate its software with Google AdWords and Google Analytics products as well as Facebook’s custom audiences.  Marketo this week is also rolling out new products to help marketers reach customers across all major digital channels through a single software platform.”

LinkedIn and Marketo are sure to make waves with this new service, and will open the possibility of advertising B2B product and services through social media. There is no denying that personalized ads are the future of advertising, and with Marketo and LinkedIn becoming bigger players in the game, we can expect many more changes to come.

For the full article on The Wall Street Journal, click here.

E-Commerce Dips into the Home Services Industry


The biggest names in e-commerce are now competing in the home services industry, attempting to bundle your recently purchased items with related services. Giants like Amazon give approved businesses a chance to bid against one another to provide your desired service. How will this affect you? Here are some things to consider:

  • This is a ridiculously huge, untapped industry: “Angie’s List … estimates the home services industry is $400 billion. Others put it at more than $800 billion. ‘There are few pots of gold left as big as this on the Internet,’ said Marco Zappacosta, chief executive and co founder of Thumbtack.”
  • Amazon is king and is only getting bigger“‘I can tell you that with 85 million customers purchasing products from Amazon that needed installation or assembly, customers have told us that Amazon Home Services fills an important need,’” says Peter Faricy, VP of Amazon Marketplace. “For Amazon it is another step toward becoming the conduit through which we buy everything, not just goods but services and entertainment as well.”
  • Google is another top contender: With services like Google Express to compete with Amazon, Google isn’t going to give up this sector of this emerging market without a fight. With the ability to provide services directly from its own search engine, Google will be sure to have its share of the market.
  • Home service providers have to cut prices to compete: Small business must cut costs in order to compete with Amazon’s bidders, but at the same time are gaining volume. “‘I look at it as an opportunity – it’s Amazon,’ […] I would say it’s early days still. We are trying to make it work. It’s a little difficult adjusting with the new prices, but there’s definitely volume there. We’re interested, but a little nervous about the low prices,’” says Matt Feldman, an entrepreneur who’s business is changing due to this bidding process.

In summary, expect your next Amazon flatscreen TV purchase to come bundled with a dozen of TV installers fighting with one another to give you the best price possible, and other e-commerce retailers to follow suit. What does this mean for home service providers? Smaller margins and a lot more work.

Click here for the full article in The New York Times.

Understanding Generation Z


Get ready for Generation Z, born starting in the mid-90’s into the early 2000’s, its members are eager to be unleashed upon the world and enter the work force.  Alexandra Levit lets you know what to expect out of the coming generation that is characterized by maturity, independence and preparedness in her New York Times article Make Way for Generation Z. Here are some of her observations about Generation Z:

  • They aren’t clinging on to their parents: “They tend to be independent. While a 2015 Census Bureau report found that nearly a third of millennials are still living with their parents, Gen Zers are growing up in a healthier economy and appear eager to be cut loose. They don’t wait for their parents to teach them things or tell them how to make decisions.”
  • Diversity: “My 15 year old next door neighbor is a quarter Hispanic, a quarter African-American, a quarter Taiwanese, and a quarter white. That’s Gen Z – they are often a mix of ethnicities.”
  • Self-motivated: “When she was 14, Sejal founded the Elevator Project, an organization that aims to lift people out of poverty through apprenticeship, vocational training and job placement…she says that her parents did not push her to register for the Gen Z event, nor do they help her with her nonprofit organization.”
  • They’ll talk to you outside social media: “Despite their obvious technology proficiency, Gen Zers seem to prefer in-person to online interaction and are being schooled in emotional intelligence from a young age.”
  • It’s never too early to reach out to them: “Even well-known organizations will have to rethink their recruiting practices to attract this group, and now is the time to start. Those who want to take advantage of Gen Z talent in the future need to develop relationships today with teenagers in grades seven through 12. Get into their schools, provide mentorship and education and put yourself in a position to help shape their career decisions.”

Click here to read the full story on The New York Times.