HITS 2024: Box CEO Unlocks the Value of AI

LOS ANGELES — As a sophomore University of Southern California student nearly 20 years ago, Box co-founder and CEO Aaron Levie took on an internship at Paramount, with a large portion of his duties seeing him make physical copies of various distribution deals for TV shows.

“It was pretty sweet,” he said May 22, speaking at the Hollywood Innovation & Transformation Summit (HITS). “But you couldn’t but wonder: ‘Why are we still faxing these things?’”

Thus, the impetus for his cloud-based content management and collaboration platform, with the timing back then — rising internet speeds, better browser technology, and the beginning of massive uptake in mobile devices — creating just the right conditions for the launch of Box.

“It represented this perfect moment. What if you have all your data accessible to you?” Levie said during the opening HITS keynote “Unlocking the Value of Your Data with AI.”

That background of Levie and Box serves as evidence he’s been right about what technology is right at just the right time for media and entertainment, so when he says artificial intelligence is “going to be the defining topic of the early 21st century,” it would behoove everyone to pay attention.

The future of work both in media and entertainment and in other industries will be powered by AI, Levie predicts, and organizations integrating AI technology effectively will see impacts across their structure, culture, and more.

Levie sees AI helping to boost productivity via workflow automation most of all, and if you’re looking to get started with AI, start with experimentation.

“Let that experimentation blossom within your organization, find out where it’s going to be the most impactful,” Levie said, pointing to Box’s work with AI-powered content management for customer data. Experimentation with AI requires a middle-ground approach: you can’t be scared of it, but you also can’t “let it run wild,” Levie said.

“This is a category that is moving so quickly,” he said, pointing to industry implementations that allow for highly accurate metadata extraction from documents, where the initial experiments were only 60-70 percent accurate (“Basically usually,” he said, laughing), and less than a year later, above 95 percent accurate.

And while Levie does see potential problems with democratizing the revenue side of AI — there will be a lot fewer haves vs. have nots — the progress being made on the technology every day is something to behold.

“We’re in for a crazy journey,” Levie said. “A lot of this will be hype that takes us down rabbit holes, but we have to stick with it. AI will make it insanely easy to take away manual processes on a scale humans could never touch. That’s the kind of timesaving, business-improving use cases you’ll see from Box.

“It’s an insane time to be alive.”

HITS Spring was presented by Box, with sponsorship by Fortinet, SHIB, AMD, Brightspot, Grant Thornton, MicroStrategy, the Trusted Partner Network, the Content Delivery & Security Association (CDSA) and EIDR and was produced by MESA in partnership with the Pepperdine Graziadio School of Business.