Cloud

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff drops bomb on Box and Okta

SAN FRANCISCO — Chairman and CEO of Salesforce Marc Benioff was the epitome of mellow on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt today, leaning back with a foot over one leg, casually chatting with Michael Arrington and talking about his trip to Hawaii, red-soled shoes, and philanthropic work.

Towards the end of the innocuous, albeit interesting conversation, Benioff dropped a bomb: Salesforce is launching its own versions of enterprise products Box and Okta at the Dreamforce conference next week.

Salesforce primarily offers customer relationship management software and cloud computing to businesses. The company is worth billions. It regularly acquires smaller companies to integrate their technology and talent into their platform and to its own line of products. It was one of the first companies to develop enterprise software-as-a-service and has been around for over a decade. So this should not have been too much of a surprise.

The panel before Benioff’s featured the next generation of the enterprise tech world, Kirk Dunn of Cloudera, Aaron Levie of Box, Todd McKinnon of Okta, and Justin Rosenstein of Asana. These young entrepreneurs also offer tools to help businesses function more efficiently. Box is a secure storage and content-sharing site, and Okta helps employees manage their various identities and log-ins.

With the addition of its very own versions of these products, Salesforce customers can address those needs completely on Salesforce, rather than using multiple platforms. This announcement directly poses a threat to the fellow players on the field, although when interviewer Michael Arrington quipped that the boys backstage must be shaking in their boots, Benioff smiled calmly.

“I don’t think business is a zero-sum equation,” he said. “We are not trying to snuff competitors out.”

Regardless of intention, a majority of the audience would probably have given an arm and a leg to witness the upstart enterprise CEOs’ reactions. I imagine it would be like if your frat brother started dating your sister. All’s fair in love, war, and business.