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Help Me Interview Marc Benioff, CEO, Salesforce.com (And Win Free Tix to Web 2)

By - October 03, 2011

benioff.jpegAs usual, this year’s Web 2 Summit is packed with CEO interviews. Next up, after Pincus and Donahoe, is Marc Benioff, Chairman and CEO of Salesforce.com. Marc and I go way, way back – he was one of my best sources when I was a cub reporter in the 1980s (he was at Oracle, I was at a trade magazine called MacWeek). I’ve watched his career ever since, with increasing admiration and anticipation – one never knows what Marc might say next. He’s declared the end of software, the end of Microsoft, even the end of Salesforce investor and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, at least as far as his business model is concerned. (And he calls Ellison a friend!)

Benioff, one of the few marketers to found and drive a major Silicon Valley company, is a genius at both identifying and exploiting key trends, bringing them to enterprise markets with zeal and craft. Probably no single executive has done more to evangelize the cloud model of computing, and we’ll certainly be talking about that, particularly given his recent offhand comment that the cloud is passe. Salesforce is a platform and developer driven model, so we’ll touch on that, and last year the company bought a Superbowl ad, featuring will.i.am, to launch its social enterprise app called Chatter.

Given that Michael Dell and Steve Ballmer will follow Benioff on day two, I’m sure to ask his opinion of those two companies.

Marc has also led when it comes to philanthropy, both personal and corporate.

Given all this and more, I’d love your input. What do you want to hear from Benioff, and about his company?   

As an extra incentive, I’ll be picking the best three questions from these series of posts (including Paul Otellini, Dick Costolo, Michael Dell, Dennis Crowley, Mary Meeker, Michael Roth, Steve Ballmer, James Gleick, Vic Gundotra, and Reid Hoffman, among others.) The authors of those questions will get complimentary passes to Web 2 – a more than $4000 value. So get to commenting, and thank you!

Previously: Mark Pincus and John Donahoe. Next up: Dick Costolo.


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8 thoughts on “Help Me Interview Marc Benioff, CEO, Salesforce.com (And Win Free Tix to Web 2)

  1. Adam says:

    My question for Marc:

    1) When you say that the cloud is passe, do you believe that the future of storing personal information (or information in general) will revolve around what are considered to be fading technologies right now? Do you see opportunity in the revamping of current, yet slightly outdated, technologies – which offer the user more control of their information – taking the market?

    2) Do you foresee the use of social *customers* becoming “outsourced” employees to corporations? For comparison, Facebook offers monetary rewards to users for identifying security problems. Do you believe the entire market will revolve around this ideal, encompassing all aspects of business?

  2. Jeff says:

    Here is my question that I’m curious about, not sure if it fits in your
    Marc,
    You have a great app but some would argue that it is a high priced system if you just need CRM functionality. How would you respond to the people that would rather you work on cutting your licensing costs rather than throwing bigger and bigger Dreamforce and Cloudforce parties every year?

  3. Ashley Moore says:

    I am such a big fan of Marc. I read his book “Behind the Cloud” and loved it. I would like to know his thoughts on what’s next. What in his opinion is the disruptive technology that is going to change things. Saleforce and the SAAS model has certainly changed things. What do you think we should pay close attention to?

    I’d also love to know his thoughts on the most important factors a startup should focus on for sustainability.

  4. Ashley says:

    I am such a big fan of Marc. I read his book “Behind the Cloud” and loved it. I would like to know his thoughts on what’s next. What in his opinion is the disruptive technology that is going to change things. Saleforce and the SAAS model has certainly changed things. What do you think we should pay close attention to?

    I’d also love to know his thoughts on the most important factors a startup should focus on for sustainability.

  5. How could leaders encourage philanthropy by employees?

    @clweinfeld

  6. Hi John. We are utilizing SalesForce for a variety of different things internally — which have nothing to do with managing a sales force. I am beginning to view them as a provider of broad knowledge management systems with social networking tools allowing for a more effective and efficient work environment. It reminds me of the transformation Microsoft created in the ’80’s with the Office Suite. I would love to understand his vision around this, and if he is really going to capitalize on this vision — does he need to change the name of the company.

  7. I am a non-technical former ad agency owner who used SF for my own business. This summer I started building a custom app and was amazed at how easy it was, how much functionality was baked-in, and how quickly I could build a working app.

    The last two months have been a completely different story. Tech support requires 5 days and 3 escalations to solve critical outages. After four meetings I still do not have a pricing proposal, nor do I even know which of their platforms they will reccomend. So far, org, no force.com Sites, no database.com, no wait, a new platform is coming that may be better. Seriously.

    Did I mention I now have EIGHT different accont logins at salesforce now, for all the various pieces and platforms?

    My question is, “you have expanded so quickly and are trying to do so many things, do you think you can contiinue to manage your own increasingly complex customer relationships?”

    And, “do you believe that salesforce as a platform is up to the demands of real-time mission critical tasks with millions of dollars at stake each day?”

    Thank you.

  8. candace kuss says:

    Mr. Benioff got a job at Apple in 1984 when he was 19. What was it like to work for Steve Jobs back then? How did working at Apple in that pivotal year shape his future career?