How the SaaS upstart has become part of the establishment
silicon.com profiles software-as-a-service company Salesforce.com and takes a look at its technology, strategy and challenges.
Salesforce.com burst onto the tech scene 11 years ago, delivering its own brand of salesforce automation software to customers via the internet.
The concept of business software being accessed like that was brand new when Salesforce.com got started (indeed it's only hitting the mainstream now) but from the start founder and CEO Marc Benioff positioned himself as software as a service's most visible evangelist, insisting his company's approach represented the beginning of the end for on-premise software.
But now that software as a service has entered the mainstream, Salesforce.com is intent on continuing to surf the technology zeitgest, with its Force.com cloud platform and the social networking and collaboration technology for businesses, Chatter.
How it all started
Marc Benioff is the larger than life CEO of Salesforce.com who worked as a programmer at the Macintosh division of Apple before spending 13 years at Oracle where he rapidly rose to a senior position.
He left Oracle and set up Salesforce.com in 1999 to provide software via the web, gathering a group of developers together to build the first version of the online salesforce automation technology which was the source of the company name and still forms the core of the business today.
The original technology allowed staff to manage and monitor their activity around sales - such as completed deals, negotiations and average sales - using software they access over the internet.
The fact that the technology wasn't located on computers within the business meant sales teams could have a new system up and running quickly and didn't have to rely on their internal IT team to maintain and upgrade the software. The software was sold using subscription model, meaning companies didn't have to pay for the cost of the systems upfront.
Speaking recently at the company's Cloudforce user conference in London, Benioff reaffirmed the company's mission: "Our message is very simple - that cloud computing is the future. We are the evangelist of this new model," he said.
Salesforce.com: from upstart to major player
The company has continued to develop salesforce automation and CRM technology, as well as opening up its technology infrastructure in 2007 to provide the Force.com cloud platform on which more than...