PeopleSoft 'like a sinking barge' - chief

Traditional CRM companies are going to sink without a trace, according to's chief executive, while the pay-as-you-go model booms

The chief executive of has said that while PeopleSoft can be likened to a 'sinking barge', his company expects to increase its subscriber numbers tenfold during the next four years.

At the user and developer conference in San Francisco on Monday, chief executive Marc Benioff told ZDNet UK that rival PeopleSoft's decision to acquire J.D. Edwards earlier this year was "like hooking two sinking barges together". Benioff said his own firm is growing rapidly, with expecting to increase its user base from 115,000 subscribers to more than a million within four years.

"Neither (J.D. Edwards or PeopleSoft) has accelerating revenue growth," said Benioff, who described them as "maintenance companies". He was also keen to point out that rival Siebel Systems has had nine quarters of declining sales., which provides online CRM and application hosting, does not consider itself to be a software company but instead a technology-utility company for enterprises. Its business model has so far been relatively successful and the company has quickly grown into the world's third-largest privately owned software company, in a market where traditional software firms are struggling.

The company's success in the nascent market has led to bitter rivalries with traditional players such as PeopleSoft and Siebel, which the largest CRM software company in the world with $1.64bn (£1bn) in revenue last year. Pay-as-you-go CRM is a relatively small, but fast-growing, segment of the overall market.

Siebel recently returned to the pay-as-you-go market after a two-year hiatus, and sparked a heated response from and Salesnet when the CRM giant announced it planned to buy a firm called UpShot, which competes in the same software-as-service market.

Benioff said that is aiming to double its subscriber base every year for the next four years. "I'd like to have at least 200,000 subscribers in a year's time and I'd like to double that every year and have (one million subscribers) in the next four years," he said.

"We believe there is a new model and a new opportunity, and that opportunity is on-demand computing. We can do it better than anybody and that is our mission -- we are completely focused on it," added Benioff.