Salesforce.com's Benioff unplugged: Supervendors suck, Oracle, Zuckerberg as Gates

Salesforce.com Marc Benioff knocked so-called supervendors, their long lists of acquisitions and approach to innovation in a Gartner keynote that walked the line between a stand-up act and a pep rally for the cloud.

Salesforce.com Marc Benioff knocked so-called supervendors, their long lists of acquisitions and approach to innovation in a Gartner keynote that walked the line between a stand-up act and a pep rally for the cloud.

In an interview with Gartner analysts, Benioff delivered so many quips and anecdotes that the control of the interview was pretty much shot after about 7 minutes. That's entertainment, but the Gartner analysts barely got a word in. Benioff's keynote came a day after the Salesforce.com chief roamed around the Gartner conference in the halls and talked to IT execs (and anyone else that wanted to hear about Chatter). It was an odd sight given that most tech CEOs do a keynote here and split as soon as possible.

Benioff portrayed large vendors as a threat to paradigm shifts and poster kids for stale tech models. It didn't take long for Benioff to start with an Oracle analogy. Benioff talked about how he roamed around Oracle's OpenWorld conference and saw 200 red cubes for all the companies Larry Ellison acquired.

"Hyperion has a little cube. And BEA. This is what our industry has come to? 200 red cubes? I like the red, but," he said. Benioff questioned the wisdom of vendors trying to offer everything in one stack. "What's next? More servers? More private clouds that eat up more carbon?"

The Salesforce.com CEO moved to portray his company as more customer friendly and an easier way to deliver IT. "I view my role as an accelerator and bring level of energy to what can be a stale environment. I don't mean that about Gartner. It's IT. It's a lot of blocking and tackling. When look at my role I'm looking for how we transform the industry. While vendors get larger they hold the paradigms back," he said.

That lack of innovation will open doors for smaller companies. How does Benioff know? A large vendor once gave Salesforce.com its start.

"The only reason we have a business is that Siebel had a meltdown for most customers. It's not like we walked into a sea of success with Siebel customers. Customers pulled the plug and plugged us in. It's not an isolated story. It's about the model," he said.

Other quips, odds and ends:

  • Benioff paid homage to Ray Ozzie, who was a mentor. "Ray Ozzie left Microsoft. Just kind of vaporized. It happened much faster than a Microsoft upgrade. That's all I'm saying. I'm not trying to make any point. Ozzie invented Lotus Notes, it was a breakthrough idea. It was conceived before Mark Zuckerberg was. Can we learn something from this?"
  • Does SharePoint work too well on this device? "Actually no. Actually not at all."
  • Next $1 billion SaaS company? "Cisco is close and then there's Concur and SuccessFactors," said Benioff.
  • On Google, Benioff said "I love Google. It is doing a world-class job on Android. They are building a large enterprise distribution."
  • On Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, he's the "next Bill Gates."
  • What's the private cloud? "Software," he said. "You're still running your servers." Benioff knocked Oracle's OpenWorld and Ellison's Sunday night keynote. "Who does a keynote at 7 p.m. on a Sunday?" said Benioff. He mocked the Exabyte box, the big X on it, its size and how it wasn't elastic by any stretch. "It doesn't pass the cloud computing test."
  • Regarding the iPad, Benioff was just a tad enthusiastic. "iPad is most successful electronic device ever. Our industry is changing. I can run my entire enterprise here (he held up an iPod touch."
  • What's the future of on-premise software vendors? "Good. How many companies buying mainframes? Each paradigm lives on, but there are shifts and more value is created," he said.
  • Facebook's IPO? "The size of Facebook's IPO is more exciting than when Google went public," he said.
  • "Apple's market cap is larger than Microsoft. That's amazing to anyone in this industry."
  • The most important item for enterprise IT is security.
  • Benioff said everyone at the Gartner conference would get a free ticket to Salesforce.com's Dreamforce conference.

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