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Software The Almighty Buck

Salesforce.com: Another Valley IPO 126

prostoalex writes "It's a young company led by charismatic executive, it shows impressive growth, is located in Silicon Valley and recently filed for Initial Public Offering. Nope, it's not another Google story - New York Times profiles Marc Benioff and Salesforce.com, the company that said No to software applications (mostly Siebel and Oracle apps) and said Yes to hosted CRM solutions (which it hosts on its own servers). Benioff's personal philosophy is interesting as well, as he calls himself compassionate capitalist, believing that corporate philantropy and check-writing should end, but instead the company should allow their employees to dedicate 1% of paid time to volunteer projects in the community." I've used SalesForce for a while now - it's pretty slick. The era of the web-based software package has come.
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Salesforce.com: Another Valley IPO

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  • eh? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Linwood ( 652814 ) *
    a CEO with a soul? I thought the deal was you sold it to the devil to get that high up. hmmm..
  • Impossible! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Flingles ( 698457 )
    "charismatic executive"

    One word. Oxymoron.
    • by gkwok ( 773963 )
      What about "compassionate capitalist" ?
    • Umm... does anyone else think "charismatic executive" is not an oxymoron? What leader isn't charismatic? Please, D&D people, back me up on this.
      • Charismatic leadership often plays a vital role in the success of a company. Look at examples of "charismatic" CEO's like Lee Iococa, Jack Welch, Sam Walton, Bill Gates, and even Robin Hood (not real, but a good example).

        Charismatic leaders often have a vision for what they're trying to do and they're able to share that vision with their followers - who follow because they're inspired by the leader.

        In fact, when a charismatic leader leaves (dies, steps down, gets fired), it can have a dramatic and often
        • I feel Godwin's law coming on.

          When I read the parent post, all I could think about was Hitler.

          > Charismatic leaders often have a vision for what
          > they're trying to do and they're able to share
          > that vision with their followers - who follow
          > because they're inspired by the leader. ...Hitler

          > In fact, when a charismatic leader leaves (dies,
          > steps down, gets fired), it can have a dramatic
          > and often detrimental effect on the
          > organization. ...Hitler...I think you could also say that
  • 1%? (Score:5, Funny)

    by hanssprudel ( 323035 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @05:06AM (#9104871)

    That's what - two and a half work days a year? I spend more paid time then that reading slashdot - per week! (And that isn't exactly making the world a better place.)
    • Re:1%? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by hutkey ( 709330 )
      i do more community work than these employees without getting paid. will i be eligible as a employee? p.s. i work on sundays too
    • Re:1%? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 10, 2004 @05:41AM (#9104991)
      "One percent of Salesforce's profits are diverted to a foundation that Mr. Benioff created when founding his company, and employees get six extra days off a year to volunteer in any community program."

      It would help if the submitter read the article first...
      • Re:1%? (Score:1, Offtopic)

        by hanssprudel ( 323035 )
        I would start reading the articles as well, but I have to spent some time creating the appearance that I am working...
    • sorta depends on your point of view in the human beings are disposable wipes capitilist society we live in, sales force looks good. ..by any reasoanble std, they still look like shit. .., or saddam hussien may look good compared to stalin, but that don't make him good (hyperbole hear )
      • or saddam hussien may look good compared to stalin, but that don't make him good (hyperbole hear )

        That's why I love it when people say "well, what we're doing in Abu-Ghraib isn't as bad as Saddam Hussain". What a great yard/meter stick to measure US values by.
    • Yes, but in reading slashdot you're contributing to civilization by bettering yourself. If you did "volunteer" work in all likelihood you would do all sorts of things that worsen the world by discouraging self-responsibility and advancing a philosophy that your own good life is not your primary goal.

      Often, when an organization strongly supports charitable activities, those who don't take part are passed over for promotions and raises. The "voluntary" activity suddenly doesn't look so voluntary.

      The only go

      • So... last Saturday when I helped sheetrock a mentally handicapped woman's tiny studio apartment, I guess I was discouraging self-responsibility? I guess she should have had more responsibility than to have caught meningitis when she was an infant. At the very least, she should have had the responsibility to have chosen parents who could afford to take care of her for the rest of her life. Likewise, my son with cerebral palsy should have taken more personal responsibility over the development of his brai
      • Eat shit and die, randroid.

  • 24 minutes (Score:2, Redundant)

    by kamapuaa ( 555446 )
    Wow, 1% of your paid time! Assuming a 40 hour work week (yeah I know, but work with me here), that's a whopping 24 minutes to the community, every week! What a citizen!
    • Re:24 minutes (Score:4, Insightful)

      by HeghmoH ( 13204 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @05:23AM (#9104926) Homepage Journal
      Yep, that figures. The top ranked post in this article is some moron criticizing this idea because it's not enough. Yes, this is so much worse than the 99.9% of companies that do absolutely nothing.
      • 1% is not enough. Its better than 0%, but that doesn't make it enough. If it was 5% then maybe people wouldn't criticise.
      • Yes, this is so much worse than the 99.9% of companies that do absolutely nothing.

        You can do nothing if you don't blow your horn about it. These people are blowing their horn over what is essentially trivial community participation. This reminds me so much of Chris Rock's "Niggas vs. Black People" routine that it's not funny. "Salesforce.com always want some credit for some shit they supposed to do . . ."

      • Yep, that figures. The top ranked post in this article is some moron criticizing this idea because it's not enough. Yes, this is so much worse than the 99.9% of companies that do absolutely nothing.

        A lot of those companies at least write checks, which this guy apparently stopped doing. And a sizeable number of companies do have volunteer programs. It's really not that generous.
    • Re:24 minutes (Score:4, Insightful)

      by kartiknarayan ( 15498 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @05:31AM (#9104945)
      Wait a minute - assuming you earn, say $60000, that's $5000 per month, or $50 worth of time the company is donating per month per employee. Multiply that by maybe 100 (?) employees, and that's $5000 per month. Not a small amount.

      Even if it's 40 hours, you're not going to spend 24 mins every week doing charity - you may spend 3 hours on company time every 2 months.

      I guess this allows the company to organise charity programs that it feels suits its own philosophy and knows where its $$ are going.

      Not a bad idea, imho.

    • Re:24 minutes (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      "One percent of Salesforce's profits are diverted to a foundation that Mr. Benioff created when founding his company, and employees get six extra days off a year to volunteer in any community program."
      • Re:24 minutes (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Adam Boalt ( 778485 )
        personally I think that he does it for the publicity. Charities tend to get a lot of free press which would cost him a lot more if it were paid advertising ( alot more then 1%).

        Adam Boalt
        SmoothStart.com
      • I would be spending those days doing mountain bike patrolling. Getting paid time off to ride a mountain bike = heaven!

        (Yes, I am a volunteer docent for several agencies, as well as a member of the National Mountain Bike Patrol [imba.com].)
  • responsible (Score:3, Insightful)

    by photoblur ( 552862 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @05:10AM (#9104888) Homepage

    "Compassionate capitolism" sounds like more than just good karma (although that's part of the package), it sounds like a responsible thing for a corporation to encourage.

    It seems that capitolism tends to encourage greed and selfishness, perhaps a concerted effort towards community building will help balance things out.

    • Re:responsible (Score:2, Insightful)

      by beachplum ( 777797 )
      I think one of the great responsibilites that comes with having the freedom to earn as much money as you possibly can is that then you have the ability to contribute to society in ways average wage earners can't.

      In my area, there is a very ritzy area of town that is entirely built of old, restored, historic houses that were moved there and saved by people who were making a lot of money.

      When used properly, capitalism is a great tool for creating positive changes.

      • Re:responsible (Score:3, Insightful)

        by kill-9-0 ( 720338 )
        Great example, and what an excellent attitude!! Kudos to you. Capitalism is NOT evil. This country was built on capitalism. People often confuse capitalism with greed, they are NOT synonymous. I live a very nice lifestyle, due to the fact that the wife and I work VERY hard, and make very good money. We do it to make life better for our kids, but an added fringe benfit is that we are able to help charities. We donate a fairly large amount of money every year to various charites we support (won't name t
        • Greed isn't bad. What you're greedy for might be.

          The salesforce.com plan allows the employees to direct their efforts. Compare this to the normal company where the CEO decides to write a big check to his favorite charity. Salesforce.com basically allows you to direct your contribution to the philanthropy pool of cash toward whatever you want.

          Surely I can't be the only one who has sat at a corporate meeting and been told how great a job we did for xyz non-profit organization. This meeting is supposed t
          • I agree 100%. My company will contibute, or subsidize time for approved activities. These activities can be submitted by regular Joe Employee and can be approved by a relatively low level of management, so your time/effort can go towards something of your choice.
        • actually, this country was built on exploitation of natural resources, treating workers as disposable, and goverment handouts...you do know that DARPA subsidized the internet for many years ? You do know that Dupont was built on WW1 money ? YOu do know that the great industrial combines of the 1800, the railroads, steel, coal etc recieved either govt money or police protection ?... Capitilism is overated because people confuse the soviet union (a political system) with socialism
          • I respectfully disagree. Back when this country formed, in the late 1700's early 1800's, there was no huge central gov't. More rights were in the states hands or in local gov't or simply not regulated. Farms were run by their owners or by slaves, and in the industrial Northeast, shops and businesses were run by owners. Factories were just starting out, and they did in many cases exploit the workers. Also, to nullify your examples, let's assume for the moment that you are correct in your statements. Wh
    • The cynic in me is going to take notice of the fact that this is still 99% capitolism. No danger of swinging the balance in favour of karma with this sort of contribution. That's like shooting 99 puppies and letting the 100th go free for compassionate reasons.
      • Re:responsible (Score:2, Interesting)

        by jallen02 ( 124384 )
        Yeah, but what if all companies did this?

        1% of 100 medium sized companies would be like an entire medium sized company doing nothing but charitable works. Every % counts.

        Jeremy
    • It seems that capitolism tends to encourage greed and selfishness, perhaps a concerted effort towards community building will help balance things out.

      Kind of like Social programs. Be careful with what you say or people will call you a socialist and tell you to move to Europe.
      • Kind of like Social programs. Be careful with what you say or people will call you a socialist and tell you to move to Europe.

        well, it doesn't take much to encourage greed and selfishness... I wasn't trying to suggest that capitolism is the only socioeconomic model that encourages such things!

        • well, it doesn't take much to encourage greed and selfishness... I wasn't trying to suggest that capitolism is the only socioeconomic model that encourages such things!

          I know, I was just taking the piss. Trying to make a little joke on the hypocracy of the whole political labeling process. Kind of like when people talk about how great American society was in the 1950's but they don't want to pay 1950's taxes or credit the new deal that provided for all the improvement to the American infrastructure and
    • It seems that capitolism tends to encourage greed and selfishness, perhaps a concerted effort towards community building will help balance things out

      Of course greed or selfishness of the masses is greatly suppressed under non-capitalist systems, such as Salinist-style Communism (unfortunately found today only in North Korea).
  • Privacy concerns (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Inigo Soto ( 776501 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @05:10AM (#9104889) Homepage
    If Gmail has caused so much concern about privacy, I wonder what salesforce.com won't do! Externalising IT services, or even CRM software support is one thing, having all your customers information stored outside and out of your control may be another....

    I'm not saying externalising is bad. It's the trend in the industry but still I find customer relations are among the most sensitive information a company handles
    • Re:Privacy concerns (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 10, 2004 @05:53AM (#9105027)
      I worked for a company for six weeks, helping them migrate data from Salesforce.com into Siebel.

      They made the mistake of telling Salesforce.com that they were moving to Siebel (for performance reasons). After that, Salesforce would not let them extend their service for anything except two full years. Their current contract was scheduled to end in six weeks.

      So they had to scramble to implement Siebel and load all their historic account, contact, and opportunity data in six weeks or pay for two more years. They sorta felt like Salesforce was holding their data hostage and were happy to leave.

      Also, if I remember correctly, they had to pay 50 dollars every time they requested a *.CSV export of their data!

      There's something to be said for having control of your own data.
      • Re:Privacy concerns (Score:2, Informative)

        by eyewell ( 178875 ) *
        This story cannot be true. You can always just go month-to-month and pay $65/user.

        Plus there is no cost everytime you want your data in a csv.

        (reposted in non-anoymous fashion by me, another user, to endorse this point, and allow the posting to be scored)
  • by tttonyyy ( 726776 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @05:11AM (#9104895) Homepage Journal
    the company should allow their employees to dedicate 1% of paid time to volunteer projects in the community.

    It would be nice to see other employers adopt this - especially if the company uses any OSS applications. Trouble is, it looks too much like doing free work for someone else to be widely adopted - and it'd cost in management time to ensure that the 1% isn't exceeded (it's easy to get carried away on a train of thought while coding!)

    • You'd have to be pretty good at OSS to avoid overspill on that 4.5 minutes / day that his compassion is allowing. This is marketing, nothing more, it's like "hey, look at us, we're good guys. Sure we make heaps of money but we give an insignificant amount of it back to the community".

      My mum lives in Australia on a pension which is, not to put too fine a point on it, very little. She also sponsers a Worldvision child in China for ~$35AUS / month. That's about 7.7% of her monthly pension. This company needs t

  • Spyware. . . (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Smallphish ( 320591 )
    . . .will kill these web-based hosted apps eventually. These apps are too important to a business to have them break every time the mobile salesman decides to download Hotbar. . .
    • Re:Spyware. . . (Score:2, Interesting)


      I really don't think that the prospect of in-browser toolbars killing the application is a major cause for concern given today's client-side options.

      First, any organization making serious use of this sort of application ought to have paid some attention to locking down their workstations. Yes, I *do* understand that "Mom and Pop" shops are usally running XP Home boxes they picked up at CompUSA, but that's simply not the case for midsize and enterprise clients. Heck, even our small business customers know

    • Salesforce.com is a business-to-business application. Most businesses lock down their computers too tightly for spyware to get in -- and if spyware does get in, the IT staff gets sent in to fix the problem.

      Companies that sell Windows software don't really care if you get a Windows worm that nukes your hard drive. In the same way, web-based app companies can't be held responsible if you download a program that kills your web browser.

      Now for all of you who like the idea of migrating away from Windows, web
  • ...a sharp-dressed Californian man in a designer suit with absolutely no knowledge of computers came up with the "next revolution in Internet software" today.

    However, business analysts were cautious as it is still likely that the sales people will lie through their teeth to get as many customers as possible to buy this product and that software engineers will still be descending onto each installation in their droves to debug major problems the day after the system goes live.

    Move along, nothing to see h

    • The salespeople don't, and don't need to lie.
      They have 9500+ clients and 140,000+ users to date to back them up.

      Since the salesforce.com licensing is done with a subscription model, signing up a customer and walking away is not an option. The customer has to be satisfied to remain a customer.

      There is so much functionality offered out of the box (customization by drag&drop of fields (no programming), creating reports on any data on the fly, automated charting, super secure and flexible security model)
  • by Random Web Developer ( 776291 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @06:05AM (#9105059) Homepage
    I (obviously, see nick) am pretty convinced that web applications have loads of advantages as deployment, manageability and what not, but for a CRM application I have serious reservations. Applications that users interact with constantly need to be above all, responsive. An accountant wants to play piano on his numpad without waiting for the application. When an administrative employee is holding the phone and looking something up, every delay is very very annoying
    • by D4MO ( 78537 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @06:43AM (#9105227)
      Agreed. Example, with html forms you do not, and never will, have the richness of native widets. Maybe xforms, but not completely. Server loop back for validation and all that crap.

      Now where web applications are going is different... It's the whole XAML / Avalon / .Net thing will solve these problems. The borders between rich applications and internet services will dissapear. What Salesforce.com will do, as will amazon etc, is create a rich, internet delivered client. So you will have all the advantages of deployment, manageability and what not, and richness / responsiveness.

      Other slashdot readers: now you see why mono project is so important?
      • As an example of my rant, take a look at iTunes. Why isn't it a pure browser based software? Well it need all this other functionality and richness so it has to run on a computer. Now look at how it is distributed, must download and install. In the future I see it as an app that is simply launched from a url. And that is the way everyone wants it. (.Net CAS takes care of the security, assuming the developer does).
    • Salesforce.com have a webservices interface, that can be used by rich clients [altio.com] to deal with the responsiveness problems.
  • I'm glad to see some of the software as an application people have some success. Will be interesting to see if they can adapt to the short term focus that being public brings.
  • by AndroidCat ( 229562 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @07:55AM (#9105686) Homepage
    In part, Mr. Benioff said, he has no choice. He sells the kind of product that only a sales executive could love: a simple, efficient way of tracking a company's customers and prospective clients.

    Actually sales executives love it because it tracks their own sales people: Do they keep busy, are they hustling for new business, do they keep their sales funnel loaded, .. do they have all their information in the system so that we can fire them next week?

    Tracking customers is a nice spin-off.

  • come on.. can you name another 2,3,4 examples of web-based software so that you can actually say the era of web-based software is upon us?
    • Projectplace [projectplace.com]
      eRoom [eroom.net]
      Webex [webex.com] (even if Webex uses some client that connects to their server)

      I wouldn't say that the era of web based software has come, but it's well on its way.
    • I think that the finely engineered elegance that was the Yahoo! Stores application (still is, but I'd remove the "finely" qualifier, out of lisp snobbery) would have something to say about your "1 example" statement.

      On the other hand, I think that it would also have something to say about the trumpeting of SalesForce.com. Sure, it's a great web app. It's not the first one, and it won't be the last.
  • ...but instead the company should allow their employees to dedicate 1% of paid time to volunteer projects in the community

    1% of paid time, eh? Suppose you work 8 hours per day. There are 60 minutes in an hour, correct? So you work, say, 480 minutes per day. If you spend 1% of your time working on volunteer projects in the community, that would be a whole whopping 4.8 minutes per day. People spend more time than that sneaking a smoke or shooting the shit by the coffee machine than that!

    Conclusion: Bullshit

    • Re:Boolsheet. (Score:3, Insightful)

      I assumed that 1% meant more like 3 days. So they have paid vacation time, some paid sick days and/or personal days and 3 paid volunteer service days. Somewhat like lawyers doing pro bono work. It could still be BS though; like if they have simply 'renamed' some of the normal vacation or personal days.
  • the company should allow their employees to dedicate 1% of paid time

    What a load of shiieeete. Charities need money. Volunteers are easy.

  • "Every year, corporate philanthropic foundations pour $30 billion into their endeavors in the U.S. alone," said Benioff. "Many of these efforts occur in isolation with little or no relationship to the communities in which they operate, the people they employ, or their corporate missions. Compassionate Capitalism calls for a new model - one that closely aligns business and community goals and focuses on serving the communities in which a business operates."

    That's probably the strongest paragraph in the

    • He could accomplish exactly what he is claiming to try to do by doing what my company does.

      It matches donations made by employees to acceptable non-profits and charities. This promotes the workers to donate, helps the causes, and reflects the concerns of the company (as a collection of employees).

      We have several operational branches. So my branch, located in BFE, donates money to my fellow colleagues charities, most of them local. The San Antonio branch donates to the charities that the employees down
  • I don't think so (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BigBir3d ( 454486 )
    The era of the web-based software package has come.

    And what do I do when I have no internet connection for hours on end? This happened recently with SBC in CT. What am I supposed to do, go home? That is not an option, and we are too small a company to have a secondary connection for back-up purposes (don't ask - I wasn't allowed any input in that decision).
  • I use sales force to get organized. It is primitive but good. I store my important contacts, information about my car, my insurance, bits of financial information, storing links if I am browsing out of my home and a few documents.

Diplomacy is the art of saying "nice doggy" until you can find a rock.

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