Cloud

Benioff unplugged: Salesforce.com chief says CEOs who don’t change will face a Corporate Spring (video)

Everybody should see Marc Benioff live and unplugged. The chief executive of Salesforce.com gave an amusing keynote speech at the AME restaurant in San Francisco this week after getting booted out of Oracle OpenWorld 2011.

We caught his Q&A with reporters after the keynote and have shared the video below. Benioff’s off-the-cuff presentation is worth catching, since it was kind of overshadowed this week by a lot of other news.

Benioff got into a tiff with Ellison, his former boss, early in the week when he said on his Facebook page that Ellison’s keynote on Sunday had “hit a new low.” Ellison evidently took that personally and reportedly canceled Benioff’s keynote speech at Oracle OpenWorld.

Benioff said the cancellation cost Oracle about $1 million, since that is what Salesforce.com paid as a sponsor to secure the keynote spot.

After that, Benioff’s team mobilized, and on Wednesday, Benioff held a keynote speech at the restaurant, instead, where he talked about how corporations are adopting social networking in their internal and external communications.

Benioff said Oracle should have left the talk intact, because it would have drawn less press.

“No one would have cared what I had to say today,” he said.

Sadly, we missed the last video part of the Q&A where Benioff said, “We saw an Arab Spring. We’re going to see a Corporate Spring. CEOs need to transform themselves as leaders. You should be in touch with your customers. That’s my point. Are you reflecting change? Things are changing. Can you still operate like a foreign dictator? I don’t think command and control is going to work in the future.”

Benioff brought up CEO Reed Hastings and the revolt he caused by raising Netflix’s DVD rental subscription fees and then trying to justify the move in a way that generated 27,000 more angry responses. Benioff said that CEOs have to use social communication to be in touch with the pulse of customers and how they feel about the company. He was also asked if he was really comparing Larry Ellison to a “foreign dictator” or Hosni Mubarak, the deposed president of Egypt who was thrown out of office during the Arab Spring revolt. Benioff said he chose his words carefully and did not make that exact comparison, since his mother was attending the keynote.

Asked if he would try to speak at Oracle OpenWorld next year, Benioff noted that his own Dreamforce conference was bigger now and that it was very unlikely he would go back.

Here’s the Q&A on video in two parts.

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