Salesforce CEO Discusses Building a Lasting Legacy | Disrupt SF 2013 | Summary and Q&A

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September 10, 2013
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Salesforce CEO Discusses Building a Lasting Legacy | Disrupt SF 2013

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Summary

This video is an interview with Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, where he discusses the company's recent success and growth, as well as his relationship with Oracle founder Larry Ellison and his admiration for the late Steve Jobs. He also touches on the importance of giving back as an entrepreneur and his thoughts on the future of Microsoft.

Questions & Answers

Q: How has Salesforce been performing recently?

Salesforce.com had an incredible quarter with more than 30% growth and impressive numbers on cash flow. The company is set to surpass four billion dollars in revenue this year, which is a rare accomplishment in the industry. These results are driven by the disruptive shifts happening in the enterprise software industry, such as the rise of cloud, social, and mobile technologies.

Q: Has Salesforce's growth mainly come from acquisitions?

No, most of Salesforce's growth is organic and not related to acquisitions. While the company has made 25 acquisitions, none of them relied on Oracle, indicating that there are different ways to build successful services in the industry.

Q: What is Marc Benioff's relationship with Larry Ellison?

Marc Benioff has a close relationship with Larry Ellison, who was his first investor and board member. Benioff considers Ellison a mentor and has learned a great deal from him. He expresses gratitude towards Ellison for teaching him how to build great companies.

Q: What were some of the negative things Marc Benioff has said about Ellison in the past?

According to Benioff, he has never said negative things about Ellison. Any quotes suggesting otherwise are false.

Q: Would Marc Benioff still use Oracle if he were starting Salesforce today?

Benioff says the decision to use Oracle or not depends on the specific needs of the enterprise service being built. While Salesforce opted to use Oracle and other vendors to achieve scalability and reliability, different entrepreneurs may make different decisions. Benioff points out that none of the companies Salesforce has acquired used Oracle.

Q: What are some of the highlights of Salesforce's upcoming conference?

The upcoming Salesforce conference, called "Force," is expected to have over 120,000 attendees and will feature a major relaunch of the company's platform and core applications. In addition to showcasing Salesforce's offerings, the conference will also provide exposure for hundreds of new enterprise companies displaying their technology to customers.

Q: What is Marc Benioff's opinion of Apple's portrayal of Steve Jobs?

Benioff believes that Apple should acknowledge and honor Steve Jobs more in their presentations and events. He emphasizes that without Steve Jobs, there would be no Salesforce, as many of the company's innovations were inspired by Jobs. Benioff considers Jobs a spiritual person and believes that his spiritual aspect is often overlooked in books and movies about his life.

Q: Did Marc Benioff ever do drugs with Steve Jobs?

No, Benioff did not do drugs with Steve Jobs. While he recognizes the impact that drugs and psychedelics had on certain individuals like Jobs, his own path to self-realization and spiritual growth is through meditation, not drugs.

Q: What is a koan?

A koan is a riddle or puzzle used in Zen Buddhism to stimulate enlightenment or insight. Benioff likened Steve Jobs' advice to him about the application economy to a koan that he had to ponder on and figure out in order to steer Salesforce's strategy.

Q: What is Marc Benioff's view on philanthropy for entrepreneurs?

Benioff believes that giving back through philanthropy should be a fundamental part of every company's ethos. He encourages startups to create a foundation from day one, which would allow them to contribute a percentage of equity, profits, and employees' time to charitable causes. Salesforce, for example, has made significant contributions, including volunteering hours, free services to nonprofits, and tens of millions of dollars in donations.

Q: Who does Marc Benioff think should be the next CEO of Microsoft?

Benioff suggests that Bill Gates should take a temporary break from his philanthropic efforts and return to Microsoft as CEO for a specified period of time, perhaps 36 months. He believes Gates is capable of resetting the company's direction, including revisiting outdated mantras and making necessary personnel changes. However, he acknowledges that it remains uncertain if this will happen. Regardless, Benioff thinks Microsoft will still be around in 10 years but with a different role in the industry.

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