Salesforce.com is a major force in the CRM space (it even managed to nab CRM as its stock ticker when it went public on the NYSE) for the trailblazing they have done in taking enterprise services into the cloud. It’s also made a big effort to acquire new services to incorporate them into its platform (the biggest of late being Buddy Media for $689 million). But today, at TC Disrupt, Marc Benioff also laid out some detail about how it is also launching a bunch of products that incorporate features from some of the most disruptive startups.
Salesforce has developed or is developing an Asana competitor, a Box competitor and an Okta competitor. Are you trying to kill off all these startups, moderator Mike Arrington asked him? It’s not exactly like that, Benioff said. “Our industry is not about The Hunger Games,” he said. “I don’t look at business as a zero sum game. It’s about delivering value to customers, to give value back to customers.”
Some more unceremonious people might call this a cynical exercise in cloning, but Benioff explained it like this. It’s about replicating certain experiences in the place where his customers are already doing business: “Our customers want a Dropbox for the enterprise, and they want it integrated into the [Salesforce] platform,” he said. “They want the applications built in there.”
He says that this is why Saleforce has Chatterbox, a kind of Yammer competitor, a couple of years ago.
It’s going to take Salesforce to further pastures, too. Okta, which lets enterprises use a single sign-on for a number of cloud-based applications, is something that Salesforce has created for itself, too. “We have something to help manage your Salesforce identity,” across different Salesforce services. “It’s about identity as a service,” he said.
It’s also next week, at its Dreamforce conference (70k registered attendees, he says), planning to unveil something that sounds a lot like Asana or Huddle: it’s called Work.com, and we’ll probably be hearing a bit more about it next week. The site, if you visit it now, doesn’t give much away. There is also Do.com that may play a role here (this is also an Asana competitor).
On a lighter note, Arrington asked Benioff a lot about what he likes to do to unwind from all the stresses of running Salesforce. On the subject of his frequent getaways to Hawaii, Arrington brought up the fact that Larry Ellison, CEO of rival Oracle, recently bought an island in Hawaii. Does that bother Benioff?
“As long as he’s not on the same island I’m on, it’s okay with me,” he said.
Update: Box’s CEO Aaron Levie had this to say in response:
A startup without competition is like a rapper without a rival. It's just awkward.—
Aaron Levie (@levie) September 11, 2012