1. Salesforce & Amazon
What do Amazon & Salesforce have in common? Apart from being extremely successful Internet Companies. Well, back when Marc Benioff was thinking about how the Cloud was going to push the future of software beyond the boundaries of 1999, he wanted the software to be cheaply delivered through the web and as easy to use as possible. He based what we now know as Salesforce.com on Amazon’s usability. Amazon has been the king of E-commerce ever since it launched in 1994, some say this could be down to its pioneering innovations and usability. What Salesforce & Amazon both have in common, as well as surviving the Dot-com implosion, is a very easy to use interface, taking advantage of a menu of tabs and a clear indication of where you are at all times. Here is an interesting quote out of Marc Benioff’s book, Behind the Cloud….
“A little over a decade ago, Clayton Christensen wrote a book called The Innovator’s Dilemma. It illustrated how a start-up company – by employing innovation that disrupts existing business models – will always beat established big companies. It validated us for what we knew was right: the future wasn’t about simply improving on what was already done; it was about being bold enough to make big, sweeping, dramatic changes. With those ideas in mind, I started Salesforce.com with a mission to do enterprise software differently. At the time, companies were paying hundreds of thousands to buy and millions to install applications that were costly and frustrating to maintain. We wanted to take advantage of a new platform – the Internet – to deliver business applications cheaply through a Web site that was as easy to use as Amazon.com.” – Marc Benioff
2. Outrageous Marketing Schemes
Back when Salesforce was just a baby, Marc Benioff and his team had the huge task of convincing customers not to use Software that was made by some of the biggest companies in the world, and is relied on by hundreds of thousands of users. But to use their cloud based CRM that no one had heard of and had less than 10 people working for them. Benioff was convinced that the Cloud was the way forward, he just had to think of the right ways to convince customers why the cloud was going to beat the on-premise CRM systems they have known for years. He did this in a few unbelievable ways that had a huge impact.
Salesforce’ biggest competitor at the time was Siebel (Which was bought by oracle in 2005), Benioff truly believed that on-premise systems were out-dated and ineffective, so he decided to go after the big dog. Salesforce.com hired fake protesters to stand outside a giant conference Siebel were hosting and protest against Software. They shouted slogans such as “The internet is really neat…Software is obsolete!”, they even hired a fake TV crew to cover the event and interview members of the public. Siebel called the police which gave the unheard of Salesforce.com a massive media buzz and the “No Software” logo was born.
Siebel held another conference over in Cannes, France. A protest could have worked again as it was in a different country, but Benioff took a different approach. Most of the executives flying into Cannes for this conference would fly into Nice and then take a taxi over to Cannes. Salesforce.com hired all of the airport taxi’s, gave them a 45 minute ride for free and pitched Salesforce to these IT professionals. They decked out the taxis with Salesforce logos and filled them with marketing brochures! The police were subsequently called as no other taxis were available.
3. Salesforce Invented the App Store
The majority of people involved with Technology are going to know the term “App Store” and immediately associated it with Apple. The Apple App store launched in 2008 after the release of iPhone OS 2.0, this allowed developers to introduce and distribute third party applications on the platform. What most people don’t know is that the AppExchange launched in 2005, 3 years before Apple’s. Salesforce.com had originally planned to call this the App Store and had therefore trademarked the phrase and registered the URL before settling on AppExchange. In an interview, Benioff said that he gifted the term “App Store” to Steve Jobs in 2008 as a thank you for all his support over the years.
4.Inventing The 1/1/1 Model
The 1/1/1 Model is an integrated philanthropic model which was pioneered by Benioff at Salesforce.com. It is centred around companies contributing 1 percent of equity, 1 percent of your product and 1 percent of employee hours back to the community. Salesforce does this via the Salesforce Foundation. It contributes free and discounted technology to nonprofits and higher education (Product), provides Grants to various charities and communities (Equity) and Employees volunteer a certain amount of time a year (Time). Since the 1/1/1 models inception, various other companies have adopted the model including, Google, Workday, Box and Yelp. Watch the full video by clicking on the GIF.
5. Forbes have voted SFDC “World’s Most Innovative Company” 4 times in a row.
In 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, Forbes have voted Salesforce the World’s Most Innovative company. The could be due to the fact that Salesforce have the largest marketshare of any CRM and they continue to gain marketshare by innovating way outside just the CRM space. If you decide to purchase Salesforce CRM and implement a few of its other features you could realise you now have a CRM, Marketing Automation, Customer & Partner Portals, Analytics software and much more, all integrated into one system. Benioff has outlined two other ways (As well as their visionary product) that helps them achieve this status. Allowing employees to help shape the companies vision in a kind of “You figure it out way” rather than a “This is how I want it done” and by empowering employees through the V2MOM process.
6. Fastest Growing Cloud Company Ever
Back in late February Salesforce’ shares soared nearly 10% after a quarterly earnings calls. For the full fiscal year Salesforce had improved their revenue from the last year by 32% to $5.4 billion, this makes Salesforce the fastest software company to reach $5 billion in revenue. “Salesforce reached $5 billion in annual revenue faster than any other enterprise software company and now it’s our goal to be the fastest to reach $10 billion,” Marc Benioff said in a statement.
7. Portfolio of Domain Names
Image is a big thing for Salesforce and one area they definitely do not shy away from is getting the domain name they want for their product. Here are a few of their most impressive domain names, Force.com, Work.com, Data.com, Database.com, Desk.com, Do.com (sold), Site.com, Social.com, and they certainly paid a pretty penny for some of these. Salesforce paid out $2.6 million for Social.com, Data.com went for $1.5 million and Do.com was bought from Microsoft for an undisclosed amount (But you can imagine how much a 2 letter domain name goes for!). Salesforce also had an array of other domain names that the group sold for a total of $4.5 million back in 2011.
8. Billions Spent on Acquisitions
Google, Facebook, Apple & Yahoo are famous for dropping billions of dollars on acquiring companies to extend their product functionality, but did you know Salesforce have also spent huge amounts of money on some of the Salesforce products you know and love? For example did you know that last year Salesforce spent close to $400 million acquiring a company called RelateIQ? The year before that in 2013, Salesforce made a huge push in their Marketing software by purchasing ExactTarget for $2.5 billion. Previously to this, Salesforce has acquired BuddyMedia for $689 million and Radian6 for $340 million, which is now all encased in the Salesforce Marketing Cloud. In fact, the majority of Salesforce products started life as another company, Data.com used to be known as Jigsaw data corp, GroupSwim is now part of Salesforce Chatter and Instranet is now rebranded to Salesforce Knowledge. You may not have heard of any of these names before today, and in my opinion that is because Salesforce do such a good job of integrating these other systems onto the Salesforce platform, so that you never know you are entering technically another system!