NEW YORK - If there was a theme for Salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM) CEO Marc Benioff's question and answer session at Cloudforce here Nov. 30, it was how to run an enterprise software business that is vastly different from the world Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) dominated.
Noting that Oracle appears to simply want to sell database computers and that Microsoft's approach for "Windows everywhere" has run its course, Benioff referred to the new business software world as the "social enterprise."
In a Salesforce.com nutshell, it's selling customer relationship software as a service online through a Web browser on any device, from desktops to smartphones and tablets. Salesforce.com then augments that service through social technologies, such as status updates and file sharing.
Benioff and his team launched their most ambitious social enterprise effort yet today in the form of the Social Marketing Cloud, which is grounded in the company's Radian6 software, acquired earlier this year for $326 million. Radian6 builds social monitoring, engagement and analytics tools to help companies better understand the market's perception of their brands, and how to use that information to better appeal to customers.
True to his allegiance to mobile as the viable platform of the future for enterprise applications, Benioff and Co. also made their AppExchange store available on Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhones and iPads, as well as on Google's Android smartphones and tablets.
While Benioff breezed through two hours of customer and product success stories, ranging from the Chatter social collaboration platform, to Database.com, the Heroku Ruby on Rails development platform among other toolsets, he preserved his snarky self for the Q&A for press and analysts later here at Cloudforce.
Per custom, he bashed Oracle and Microsoft and praised Facebook, which he holds up as the consumer operating system of the future, as well as the platform through which he bets his customers market themselves and engage with their own customers.
For example, Benioff said that despite Oracle's acquisition of RightNow Technologies in an apparent bid to gun for Salesforce.com's software-as-a-service (SaaS) CRM business, RightNow's product isn't that good. Both Zynga and Electronic Arts, he noted, terminated their deals with RightNow to get on Salesforce.com.
What about Oracle's strategy to challenge Salesforce.com? Benioff said it looks like Oracle just wants to keep selling companies database computers. "I don't know what their strategy is," he said, adding that perhaps Oracle wants to be the Teradata of the 21st century.
He also repeated a rumor he'd heard that Oracle was jettisoning its CRM on Demand software and moving the existing customers to its Fusion platform, which he noted was not a multi-tenant cloud.
Generally, repeating rumors about rivals is taboo for CEOs, but Benioff is no traditional CEO. He noted that perhaps Oracle CEO Larry Ellison is turning his company into a "scavenger" of dead or dying companies.