On 8 March 2019 Salesforce celebrated its 20th anniversary. Over this period, the company has grown from an idea in a one bedroom flat in San Francisco to being the global leader in customer relationship management (CRM). Salesforce has made enterprise cloud, mobile, social, IoT and AI technologies accessible to companies of every size and industry. They are passionate about continuing this cause to improve the way the world does business, in line with its core values of trust, customer success, innovation and equality for all. In honour of their 20th birthday, we are looking back at the highlights of Salesforce’s inspiring story.
1999 – The Vision
Salesforce began in a small flat on Telegraph Hill in San Francisco as the brainchild of an Oracle executive (now Chairman and Co-CEO of Salesforce) named Marc Benioff and a computing consultant named Parker Harris. It was their dream to create ‘a world-class internet company for sales automation’. From the beginning, Benioff and Harris knew it was imperative that their employees all had a clear vision for the company with shared goals. To do this they created the V2MOM, which stands for Vision, Values, Methods, Obstacles and Measures. This statement is now at the core of Salesforce, allowing the company to define their goals and execute them in an organised manner.
“In 1999, Parker and I could not have imagined that Salesforce would be the company it is today,”– Marc Benioff
By July that year Salesforce had expanded to a small office with ten employees. It was at this point that Benioff debuted the company’s first prototype, promising automation through the internet at $50 for each user a month. It was aimed at small to midsize businesses. At the end of the year, the company had reached 40 employees.
2001 – The Year of Philanthropy
In 2001 Salesforce was continuing to expand at a rapid pace and had opened a second office on San Francisco’s thriving One Market Street. That year they launched the 1-1-1 Philanthropic Model, with Salesforce.org. This is based around the idea of leveraging Salesforce’s technology, people and resources to help improve communities all over the world.
2002 – The Year of International and Profitable Growth
Salesforce really made its mark by expanding and opening offices in Australia, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Spain and the UK. This was also the time when the company amassed 9,000 Salesforce users at firms including Nokia, General Electric, General Motors and Cigna.
2006 – The Year of the App
By 2006, Salesforce had acquired its 500th employee and 50 million transactions had been recorded in one day on the Salesforce platform. In addition, they acquired Sendia and created the original Salesforce app, AppExchange Mobile.
2008 – The Year of the Mobile Revolution
After the iPhone was released in 2007, Salesforce took advantage of the potential opportunities it presented by becoming the first enterprise partner to be on the App Store. The company was invited to speak at the Apple App Store launch event in 2008.
Additionally, the company enjoyed further success with Dreamforce (its annual user conference) achieving 10,000 registered attendees. It was also named in Forbes’ list of Fastest Growing Tech Companies in the World.
2010 – The Year of Collaboration
In 2010, Salesforce added Service Cloud to its product offering – the second major cloud application built on the Platform. Salesforce also launched Chatter, the world’s first enterprise collaboration tool, and became the first cloud computing company to reach $1billion in revenue.
2013 – The Year of the Customer
Salesforce gained 100,000 successful customers in 2013. Furthermore, Dreamforce was named as the world’s largest software conference with over 143,000 registered attendees.
2015 – The Year of Trailhead
In 2015, Salesforce unveiled its Service Wave Analytics app, which connects Service Cloud data with the Wave Analytics platform to offer valuable new customer insights. It was also the year that Salesforce launched Trailhead, which gives individuals the opportunity (regardless of education) to develop the skills required for a job in tech. Additionally, Dreamforce held the first Women’s Leadership Summit.
2016 – The Year of Lightning
Salesforce developed Lightning in 2016 – a reimagined customer experience that allows developers of all skill levels to create and customise modern, connected apps.
The company was also named as ‘Innovator of the Decade’ by Forbes and conducted its first equal pay assessment. This resulted in $3million in salary adjustments.
2018 – The Year of the Trailblazer
Last year Salesforce continued to top numerous lists, such as Fortune’s ‘World’s Best Workplace’ list and is number one on their inaugural Future 50 companies positioned for breakout growth. In 2018 that they surpassed a $10billion run rate, faster than any other software company in history.
As well as these accomplishments, Salesforce was successful in sustainability initiatives by providing a carbon neutral cloud and achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. They also committed $50million to foster computer science in education.
2019 – The Future
Salesforce has achieved an enormous amount over the last 20 years they have been in business. They are continuing to expand, as seen by Salesforce Tower Dublin (expected to open in 2021) and the newly announced Salesforce Tower Tokyo, which will create 2,000 jobs over the next five years. The company is also continuing to innovate, demonstrated by their initiative of transitioning each of their customers to Lightning.
CEO Marc Benioff describes himself as having a ‘beginner’s mind’, which he believes is the key to the continuing success and evolution of Salesforce.
Having a beginner’s mind informs me. I’m trying to listen deeply, and the beginner’s mind is informing me to step back, so that I can create what wants to be, not what was. The future does not equal the past. I know that I have to be here in the moment.” – Marc Benioff