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Behind the Cloud summary

Marc R. Benioff and Carlye Adler

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

4.2 (62 ratings)
17 mins

Brief summary

Behind the Cloud by Marc R. Benioff and Carlye Adler is a memoir detailing the journey of creating Salesforce, one of the most successful software companies of all time. The book highlights important lessons learned throughout the process that any entrepreneur can learn from.

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    Behind the Cloud
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    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 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 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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    What is Behind the Cloud about?

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

    Behind the Cloud Review

    Behind the Cloud (2009) is a book that delves into the fascinating journey of building and shares valuable insights on entrepreneurship and leadership. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • With its insider stories and behind-the-scenes details, it offers a unique perspective on the challenges and triumphs of creating a successful business.
    • It provides practical strategies for growing a company, including lessons on sales, marketing, and innovation, making it a valuable resource for aspiring entrepreneurs.
    • The book's engaging narrative and personal anecdotes from Marc Benioff, the founder of, make it a captivating read that is far from boring.

    Best quote from Behind the Cloud

    There wont be enough people or enough hours in the day. So focus on the 20 percent that makes 80 percent of the difference.

    —Marc R. Benioff and Carlye Adler
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    Who should read Behind the Cloud?

    • Business owners
    • users
    • Rising entrepreneurs

    About the Author

    Marc Benioff is the co-founder, chairman and CEO of 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 FAQs 

    What is the main message of Behind the Cloud?

    The main message of Behind the Cloud is the story of how became a leading cloud-based software company.

    How long does it take to read Behind the Cloud?

    The reading time for Behind the Cloud varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes several hours. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Behind the Cloud a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Behind the Cloud is a valuable read for anyone interested in entrepreneurship and the rise of It offers insights into the challenges and strategies that led to its success.

    Who is the author of Behind the Cloud?

    The author of Behind the Cloud is Marc R. Benioff and Carlye Adler.

    What to read after Behind the Cloud?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Behind the Cloud, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • American Prometheus by Kai Bird & Martin J Sherwin
    • Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey A. Moore
    • The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
    • Irresistible by Josh Bersin
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