Salesforce hired a new co-CEO to work alongside founder and longtime CEO Marc Benioff this week, but don’t worry. It is unlikely that many enterprise organizations using cloud giant CRM and other cloud-based software services will experience any disruption in the future as a result.
If anything, Salesforce customers may see more focus on the cloud giant’s latest and largest acquisition: collaborative software company Slack, which completed this summer.
The new co-CEO of Salesforce has been promoted from the inside. Brett Taylor has served as the company’s president and chief operating officer for the past two years. Prior to that, he spent two years as President and Chief Production Officer. He joined Salesforce when it acquired Quip in 2016, co-founded and led by collaborative software company Taylor.
Taylor has been an active participant in Salesforce’s strategy and growth ever since, and was very involved in the Slack acquisition.
“He’s been a champion in bringing it to the table and has been a huge promoter of Slack-first UX,” said Gartner Research Vice President Jason Wong, who tracks the company for the research firm and notes that Salesforce has indicated that many workflows will be via Slack as the primary interface from now on. onwards.
“That’s where Brett is going to focus,” Wong said. “This is a huge growth area.”
This new appointment of a co-CEO is not the first time Salesforce has worked with such a structure. Salesforce appointed then-President and COO Keith Block as co-CEO in 2018. The company appointed the long-time CEO of Oracle in 2013. Block quit the co-CEO job after two years on the job, and Benioff became the only CEO once repeatedly.
On a conference call with financial analysts after the appointment of the new co-CEO and the announcement of the company’s latest earnings, Benioff focused on returning to the co-CEO appointment.
“I am very excited about the co-CEO structure. These jobs are great jobs and being able to have a partner that you can share with makes it a lot easier,” Benioff told analysts during the earnings call.
Any sort of executive change like this is sure to spark a lot of speculation about what’s really going on behind the scenes. Some may wonder if Benioff is in the early stages of planning to exit his position as CEO of Salesforce. Others may wonder if this co-CEO promotion could be a way to retain a much-needed senior executive at other tech giants. After all, Twitter appointed Brett Taylor as its president on November 29.
But Benioff has never indicated a tendency to retreat from day-to-day control of the company he founded. Meanwhile, Taylor’s appointment as Twitter Chairman and Co-CEO of Salesforce separately in the same week may signal closer partnerships and alliances between the two companies in the future. Wong notes that Benioff was at some point on the verge of executing the Salesforce acquisition of Twitter.
“Brett demonstrated a level of leadership that made him CEO of Salesforce – which is clear from a succession planning perspective,” says Wong. But Benioff is not ready to give up control. He appears to be involved in setting the overall strategy and driving the company’s culture.”
Salesforce Slack vs. Microsoft Teams
The long-awaited question for some organizations may be whether to standardize on one of these collaboration platforms instead of the other, and now that you own Salesforce Slack, will that make it a more compelling option for some organizations?
“It can be difficult for organizations to justify investing in both Teams and Slack,” Wong says. “Teams are already widely adopted. Salesforce will really need to move away from more of a front office perspective.”
However, Slack may be the best option for certain teams in organizations, especially those that want to collaborate with external partners and clients.
“Slack is usually more focused in different departments like IT and DevOps to collaborate and communicate within these teams,” Wong says. “We see some cases where both products are in the same organization, but usually one has a much smaller footprint than the other. Microsoft is likely to have a wall-to-wall deployment because of its Office software.”
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