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Behind the Cloud

The Untold Story of How Salesforce.com Went from Idea to Billion-Dollar Company and Revolutionized an Industry

By Marc R. Benioff and Carlye Adler
13-minute read
Audio available
Behind the Cloud: The Untold Story of How Salesforce.com Went from Idea to Billion-Dollar Company and Revolutionized an Industry by Marc R. Benioff and Carlye Adler

Behind the Cloud (2009) details the rise of Salesforce.com from a one-room apartment start-up to a prosperous global company. Using often unconventional methods, Marc Benioff – the founder and CEO of Salesforce.com – steered his company through financial problems and the dot-com bubble burst, and came out on top.

  • Business owners
  • Salesforce.com users
  • Rising entrepreneurs

Marc Benioff is the co-founder, chairman and CEO of Salesforce.com. He has written three books on business and is currently a board member of Cisco Systems. He’s also a committed philanthropist who’s donated hundreds of millions of dollars to good causes.

Carlye Adler is an award-winning journalist and a bestselling writer. She has been published in Newsweek, TIME and Wired and has co-authored many successful business and leadership books such as The Promise of a Pencil with Adam Braun and The Hard Thing about Hard Things with Ben Horowitz.

 

© Marc Benioff, Carlye Adler: Behind the Cloud copyright 2009, John Wiley & Sons Inc. Used by permission of John Wiley & Sons Inc. and shall not be made available to any unauthorized third parties.

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Behind the Cloud

The Untold Story of How Salesforce.com Went from Idea to Billion-Dollar Company and Revolutionized an Industry

By Marc R. Benioff and Carlye Adler
  • Read in 13 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 8 key ideas
Upgrade to Premium Read or listen now
Behind the Cloud: The Untold Story of How Salesforce.com Went from Idea to Billion-Dollar Company and Revolutionized an Industry by Marc R. Benioff and Carlye Adler
Synopsis

Behind the Cloud (2009) details the rise of Salesforce.com from a one-room apartment start-up to a prosperous global company. Using often unconventional methods, Marc Benioff – the founder and CEO of Salesforce.com – steered his company through financial problems and the dot-com bubble burst, and came out on top.

Key idea 1 of 8

Stick to your idea and think big if you want to build a fast-growing company.

Even the biggest companies in the world start off as mere ideas. But if everyone could snap their fingers and manifest those ideas, the world would be teeming with entrepreneurs. So what is it that made Marc Benioff and Salesforce.com so massively successful?

Let’s start with this tip from Benioff: when you notice an idea’s potential, don’t be intimidated by it, even if it means going at it alone.

The idea for Salesforce.com wasn’t the culmination of an arduous journey to seek out a grand new business concept. Benioff was on sabbatical after over ten years as vice president of Oracle when he got his inspiration while swimming with dolphins in Hawaii.

Around this time, the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) company Siebel Systems went public with a software solution that enabled salespeople to track leads, account information and manage contacts. However, it was expensive, flawed and high-maintenance, like many other similar solutions at the time.

Benioff noted the concept and thought he could improve the software using a “Software-as-a-Service” approach, specifically through a cloud computing model, so he contacted founder Tom Siebel about his idea. However, although supportive, Siebel didn’t think it would win over a significant part of the market.

But Benioff stuck to his vision and decided to go at it alone. He knew he had to think big. To draw in the best engineers for his new company, he marketed his vision as “the end of software business and technology models.” He knew that this benchmark would intrigue any skilled developer.

By March 1999, he had employed three highly experienced application developers who worked with him in a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco and by that summer, Benioff had ten employees and was out-growing the apartment. To accommodate his promising company, he decided to rent an 8,000 square-foot office space at the Rincon Center.

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