They call it a Q&A session but when Marc Benioff takes questions he draws the kind of crowd that you often see politicians performing in front of. The group has gotten too big for me to know everyone or even most people — especially since it includes press, financial analysts and industry analysts. I have the pleasure of hanging with some of the sharpest minds in the analyst world including Paul Greenberg, Esteban Kolsky, Brent Leary, Jesus Hoyos, Josh Weinberg and a slew of people I only know by reputation inside an ad hoc group called the Enterprise Irregulars. If there’s good analysis coming out of Dreamforce or anywhere else where we converge it’s because of them.
The press conference is our chance to ask Marc directly anything about the business and the technology and it’s amazing what this guy keeps in his head. Here are some examples:
On Salesforce’s accounting methods
Someone referenced a recent story in the financial press about how Salesforce was using some questionable accounting methods. Benioff set the record straight saying that the referenced methods were the ones used by conventional software companies not software as a service (SaaS) companies. Without getting into the weeds, recognizing revenue is different for these two groups and before going public Salesforce did a lot of due diligence to document its approach leaning on world class accounting experts. Today, the path laid down by Salesforce is largely the one used by other SaaS companies. So there.
On retiring the no software idea
It’s not time for that yet. Too many people still don’t get it as evidenced by what Benioff calls the “false clouds” in the market. As long as other vendors try to claim cloud parity with new marketectures, Salesforce will be selling the no software idea.
On the market in general
While Salesforce has done well it’s no time to circle the wagons. Social principles have made everything new again and most of the world needs to catch on so Salesforce is in growth and market share acquisition mode and will be for a long time.
On the economy
While it might not be great, the companies Salesforce deals with are growing and Salesforce must stay ahead of the hiring curve. Today it has roughly one thousand open job requisitions. While the economy might not be in great shape, Salesforce continues to execute and delivered 38% growth year over year in its second quarter. Not too shabby.
Like any good pol, Marc announced that it’s his intent to answer all of the questions the group has. He seems to relish being in front of the crowd and talking about his favorite subject.