Salesforce has bought at least 60 companies in its history, including 27 in the last five years, according to S&P Capital IQ. I had the good fortune of being involved in the company’s first four acquisitions. What started as a cloud-based database for sales representatives has since become one of the most valuable software companies in the world, passing up Oracle, SAP, IBM, Cisco and Intel in the process. John Somorjai has built a masterful infrastructure that enables newly acquired companies to plug seamlessly into Salesforce like Lego blocks.
In the case of Slack, much of the chatter (see what I did there) was around Benioff’s yet-to-be-realized vision of a “social enterprise.” They now have an outstanding communications layer after making some unsuccessful attempts at their own (Quip, Chatter, etc). But while all that may be true, I see this acquisition as a new chapter in what I call “The Platform Wars.” Let me explain.
Today, CIOs around the world are trying to decide which platform to standardize on. With limited time and resources, they need to pick a commercial ecosystem that will provide concrete dividends: new applications, new talent, new revenue streams. They have to decide whether they’re going to be an Oracle shop, a SAP shop, a Microsoft shop or a Salesforce shop.