The company profile
Salesforce is the world’s leading Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. They employ more than 50,000 team members worldwide and are the #1 CRM platform by International Data Corp for the last eight years. Salesforce is known for being pioneers of the software as a service (SaaS) and subscription revenue model. When they first launched, they adopted a cloud strategy as a pillar to their products. This was revolutionary at the time; while their competitors required significant and potentially prohibitive client-server infrastructure and installation, Salesforce required minimal installation. This made them incredibly attractive for those who wanted to skip large and lengthy implementations. Having a cloud strategy also enables their clients to access Salesforce any time and from anywhere. This is also an enticing value proposition, especially at the time when the world was globalizing and on the precipice of reaping the rewards of wireless devices.
History of Salesforce
Salesforce started in 1999 with a mantra of “The End of Software.” Cofounder and ex-Oracle employee Marc Benioff, along with Parker Harris, Dave Moellenhoff, and Frank Dominguez set out to create a different kind of software company, one that was accessible from anywhere and did not require installation. The four adopted a start-up ethos of “fast, simple, and right the first time,” which arguably still exists today. Within their first year, they quickly grew out of their one-bedroom apartment on Telegraph Hill in San Francisco and moved into an 8000 square foot office at Rincon Center to house their burgeoning team of 40.
However, as history teaches us, 2000 came with challenges when the dot-com bubble went bust. Salesforce had to lay off 20% of their workforce but ultimately was able to weather the storm. Salesforce closed the first year of the new millennium with revenues of $5.4 million and continued to experience exponential growth in the following years. In 2003, they host the first Dreamforce event, helping them make critical breakthroughs in their market. By the end of that same year, they would reach revenues of $100 million, poising them for a stellar IPO in the following year.
Today, Salesforce generates $21.3 billion dollars in sales annually. They continue to dominate the CRM space and pursue blockbuster acquisitions, such as their purchase $15.7B purchase of Tableau in 2019. Their latest headline purchase is work collaboration software, Slack; Salesforce announced the purchase in 2020, pay $27.7B for the company.
Salesforce’s primary product is their CRM platform, which helps businesses manage their customers through the complete client journey/lifecycle. They offer other products that help enhance and elevate the Salesforce CRM platform. For example, they offer products that, such as Mulesoft, allow businesses to integrate their CRM with other enterprise software. If you are a business looking to create a comprehensive ecosystem for managing all of your processes, workflows, and insights, building around a system like Salesforce becomes incredibly beneficial.
In addition to CRM, Salesforce offers a suite of products and services that span the full lifecycle of any businesses’ customers. They have an AppExchange which allows clients to browse and download apps that integrate with their services. Other software companies can also develop apps to cater to specific use cases and publish them on AppExchange.
Work culture at Salesforce
When Benioff and cofounders started Salesforce, they were very intentional about the type of culture they wanted to pursue. This culture was centered around the Hawaiian beliefs around Ohana, which represents the idea of family. Salesforce has been deliberate in building Ohana into the fabric of their company. They do this by having incentives and rewards measured against how well their teams live up to this standard.
The company is also a champion of equality for all. They are making efforts to hire a diverse workforce that is reflective of society. Salesforce is transparent about their efforts and publishes their current workforce mix on their website, available here.
According to Grand View Research, in 2020, the CRM market was estimated to be a USD $43.7 billion dollar market. The anticipated compounded annual growth in the market to 2028 is an estimated 10.6%. While there are many players in the space, Salesforce is the leader in the market, with approximately 20% of the market share. Trailing Salesforce are two other enterprise software giants, SAP and Oracle, with a little over 5% of the market share. Salesforce’s dominance spans beyond market share. They’re recognized by Gartner as the leading CRM platform.
Non-digitally native companies are beginning to recognize the need to gain a deep understanding of their customers. And with that, CRM and related technologies will continue to be a pillar for helping leaders derive insights and manage the customer journey. Furthermore, the pandemic has accelerated the shift to cloud-based platforms. This works even more in Salesforce’s favor, as their whole offering is cloud native.
CEO: Marc Benioff
Headquarters: San Francisco, California
Industry: IT Software and Services
Company Size: ~150,000 employees worldwide