Salesforce.com announced impressive results today and announced two new facets of the business--mirrorforce and smashforce. First the numbers: Subscriptions for its on demand CRM suite increased by 15 percent from last quarter and 83 percent from the same quarter last year, with less than 1 percent subscriber churn per month, company CFO Steve Cakebread said during the earnings call today. Revenue increased 77 percent year over year, but margins declined due to investments in data centers and professional services hires.
CEO Marc Benioff said the company would spend $50 million on mirrorforce, which will provide mirroring and replication services, with real-time rollover capability, between a new East cost data center and the West coast data center. "We've taken delivery of the software and hardware, and expect with the Winter '06 release to be live [with mirrorForce] by end of year," Benioff said. If I'm a customer, I have to be concerned right now that I don't have that level of data protection and fail-over.
Smashforce is the company's attempt to link itself with what I wrote in my post about the recombinant Web, remixing Web applications to create new kinds of user experiences and businesses. Cheap Gas, which mashes GoogleMaps and GasBuddy together to locate gas stations with the lowest prices is an example. "Customers are creating mash-ups. People are linking people, maps and Skype, and smashforce technology will make innovative companies a natural extension of our suites," Benioff said. Smashforce is more of an extension of sforce and customforce than anything new or innovative from the company's labs.
Benioff also did a little smashmouthing, continuing to beat down on Siebel, claiming that salesforce.com has more new subscribers in the last quarter than Siebel's on demand effort has had in its entire tenure, including two acquisitions. In a recent interview with News.com, Bruce Cleveland, Siebel's new senior vice president of products, talked about Salesforce.com:
Well, everyone read the JMP Securities piece on the problems for Salesforce.com at Cisco. What that shows is that it's fine to start off with a lightweight product, but companies figure out quickly that they need to integrate with order management, they need to be able to do complex forecasting, and a product like Salesforce.com that was developed as an alternative to ACT (customer management software) is not going to give you that. And while it seems like a great idea from a marketing standpoint to say "no software," the fact of the matter is that this is all software and it's only the deployment options and financial vehicles that are used to deliver them that have changed, and offer real value. Companies want to mix and match applications, and turn on tools as they go, and pay for them based on their needs. That's what we've learned.
During the earnings call, Benioff seemed to have smoothed over problems at Cisco, describing how the networking company is ramping up deployment of salesforce.com--although not close to the potential 10,000 seats discussed when the deal was inked--and noting that Cisco vice president and general manager Laurent Philonenko will be on stage with him at the Dreamforce '05 user conference next month. Cleveland is right in that salesforce.com's challenge is in serving some of the larger enterprises with intertwined CRM and ERP systems, but that's also an opportunity. It will just take more time to play out. For customers, the more competition the better...