Salesforce.com's Benioff Laughs in the Face of Danger
With the aftermath of the U.S. election in full bloom (by the time you read
this), NFL playoff races heating up and much of the country basking in unusually
warm fall weather, we're going to head back a few months and make...an Olympics
reference! Or, at least, a track and field reference, which might as well be
an Olympic reference. (Seriously, though, doesn't it seem as though the 2008
Olympics happened about 17 years ago? The shelf life for an event is short in
our YouTube culture.)
Anyway, did you ever watch one of those middle-distance races in which one
runner would dart way out ahead of everybody else, only to get caught about
three-quarters of the way through the race and finish fifth? We're fairly sure
that this runner is called the rabbit -- he or she sets the pace early in
a race but never really has a chance to win it.
We're wondering here at RCPU whether Marc Benioff and Salesforce.com -- pioneers
in Software as a Service -- are starting to grow floppy ears and a fluffy tail.
Salesforce.com has done a pretty solid job of leading the SaaS-based customer
relationship management race, but a few big-name competitors are starting to
catch up. Microsoft, of course, is among them, not only with Dynamics CRM online
-- a direct competitor to Benioff's company -- but also with the whole Azure
And there are others starting to leg it forward in the SaaS scramble. SAP,
Oracle -- they should have Salesforce.com looking over its shoulder at least
a little bit. But this week, at the company's Dreamforce show in San Francisco,
with the confidence of a runner who'd already lapped his foes. He took more
shots than Sarah Palin in a forest full of moose -- at Oracle, at SAP...but
less so at Microsoft, which he (for once) treated with a bit more caution.
We like Benioff and Salesforce.com here at RCPU because the CEO is a quote
machine and because the company is a pretty genuine pioneer in what could eventually
become a pervasive computing model. But we can also see this trailblazer going
the way of Netscape...or, more likely, Lotus: snapped up eventually (although
probably not in this economy) by a larger competitor but still continuing to
produce innovative technology. That second scenario doesn't seem so bad, actually,
at least for customers and Salesforce.com partners.
But Benioff won't hear of it. Salesforce.com is building or planning to build
datacenters worldwide and ramping up its offerings to compete with the other
runners in the race. Benioff's got bluster, and he's got a lead. But does his
company have the kick to finish off the race? We'll see.
What has your experience been with Salesforce.com? Have you worked with the
company as a partner or customers? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Lee Pender on 11/05/2008 at 1:22 PM