ERP Competition Is Heating
Up"> Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff has made it clear that he has big ambitions for his company and that he intends to make it grow as rapidly as it can. In fact, he would like it to grow as big as Oracle, where he worked for most of the 1990s, and where he was mentored and befriended by Ellison himself. That friendship has cooled since Benioff went off to build his own company, and now Salesforce.com is a small but vigorous competitor to Oracles own CRM business.Salesforce.coms decision to add Conway to its board is another sign that the competition is going to keep heating up. The Silicon Valley software industry is a surprisingly close-knit community, where executives have worked together at the same companies as they climbed the management ladder and worked in various entrepreneurial ventures. Conway is himself an Oracle alumnus, and that is another factor that will add a personal element to the competition as Salesforce.com carries out its growth plans. Since the bruising fight with Oracle, there is certainly no love lost between Conway and Ellison. Benioff certainly knows that bringing on Conway is like waving a red cape at a bull. Its almost as if Benioff is thumbing his nose at his former mentor at Oracle. But why should Oracle care? Oracles CRM business alone was far larger than Salesforce.coms even before it announced its proposed buyout of CRM specialist Siebel Systems Inc. It will take years for Salesforce.com to build up a software business that can rival even a significant portion of Oracles applications business. In the meantime, Salesforce.com could itself become a buyout target for Oracle or some other competitor if it isnt simply pushed to the wayside by the effort to keep up with business juggernauts like Oracle. To read more about the circumstances surrounding Conways exit from PeopleSoft, click here. Many corporate boards of directors are set up mainly to rubber-stamp the CEOs decisions. Good board members apply their knowledge and experience and the success they have had building other businesses to help new companies achieve their goals. What remains to be seen is whether Conways addition to the board is just a symbolic gesture, or whether he can provide the judgment and advice an ambitious young company needs to achieve success. His track record doesnt lend a lot of confidence that he will be a positive factor that will take Salesforce.com to the top of the industry. John Pallatto is a veteran journalist in the field of enterprise software and Internet technology. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis about productivity and business solutions.
Click here to read about Salesforce.coms plans to develop an ISV application exchange on top of its CRM platform.