Marc Benioff: Harness the Promise of the Web for Powerful Sales Results

Marc Benioff: Harness the Promise of the Web for Powerful Sales Results

Marc Benioff is chairman and CEO of Salesforce.com. Salesforce.com demonstrates how Web Services will replace large-scale corporate applications through the use of the Internet. Here is a rough transcript of his remarks:

I really appreciated the last presentation, especially the comments on purpose and leadership. What you are trying to create as a leader is the essence of success. I'm going to try to give you some insight on how we think about problems from where we are. The technology industry has gone through a lot of growth and transformation. We're the most successful company that's started in Silicon Valley since 1999. We're the second largest company in Silicon Valley behind Google.

We did not expect this kind of environment over the last few years. It's been a terrific environment in Silicon Valley, but there's been a lot of bloodshed. Whenever there's a lot of chaos, there's a lot of opportunity. Right now, in Silicon Valley, this is the most fertile, most dynamic, most exciting time to start a company. There's a lot of opportunity to take a technology and build a business model.

I was sitting in my office at Oracle, where I had a very good career. But in 1996 I had an epiphany. I was using an incredible new application over our corporate network called Amazon.com. This thing was terrific. It was easy to use. I could search. It was compelling and dynamic. Why is it that all enterprise software can't be like Amazon.com? With that simple idea behind it, I began to raise some money from my friends in Silicon Valley.

We set out to do three things. One is to create a radically different technology model for enterprise software. What if we created a utility for enterprise automation? They don't have to create a data center. They don't have to have a CIO. Our business model we stole from Fast Company. Instead of paying in advance, you pay as you go -- you pay a subscription fee. It's a deferred revenue model. The other piece is a new community model. We took 1% of our company and put it in a 501(c)(3) public charity called the Salesforce.com Foundation.

We're growing at 100% this year. We're making revenue, cash flow positive. If I look back and think about what it took to get to this point for the company, I think it's really the third point. You can talk a lot about values and the leader, but there's something that happened to our company. This year we'll serve 30-40,000 youth. We've created technology education centers around the world. Putting the Golden Rule into action in your company isn't easy. But the power of an idea -- whether it's the utility idea or the Golden Rule -- can be powerful. The foundation creates the fundamental architecture for success.

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