Salesforce.com will do the half-billion after all

I will be out later on so I won't be able to listen in to Marc Benioff's noon webcast today. But I'd say it's a dead cert that Benioff will use the occasion to up his company's forecast revenue guidance for the current quarter.

I will be out later on so I won't be able to listen in to Marc Benioff's noon webcast today. But I'd say it's a dead cert that Benioff will use the occasion to up his company's forecast revenue guidance for the current quarter. A press release earlier today set the scene by raising Salesforce.com's revenue guidance for next financial year from $710 million to $720 million.

Guidance for the current fiscal year to 31st January 2007 presently stands at $493-$495 million, which, as I noted last month, is "just $5 million, or one percent, below the magic half-billion threshold." At the time, I concluded:

"You can bet your bottom dollar that Marc Benioff and his executive team would dearly love to hit that half-billion-dollar figure for the financial year, and will likely pull out all the stops to do it. But whether they can achieve it or not is a finely balanced calculation, and not one to gamble on just now."

The sign that I was looking out for, as I mentioned in a private email at the time, was an early December uprating of revenue guidance. I think Benioff will continue to tease us today, upping guidance to a ceiling of $497 million or so for the year (and about $144 million for the quarter). But that moves the figure close enough to the target for his team to be reasonably confident of delivering the magic half-billion dollar figure for the year.

Of course, we won't get confirmation until the financials are actually released in February (though we may get another uprating of the revenue target come January, just to keep us on tenterhooks). Benioff is a past master of milking maximum PR benefit from any milestone. This is one he'll want to play to perfection.