Salesforce CEO: We're going to rebuild all of our technology to become Slack-first

·Correspondent
·4 min read

Salesforce (CRM) CEO Marc Benioff says the software giant's upcoming $27.7 billion acquisition of messaging app Slack Technologies (WORK) will help the cloud company become "a key leader in the future of work."

"We're going to rebuild all of our technology, once again, to become Slack-first to help our customers have a harness to work in this new world — where you're working at home; you're working in the office; you're working at events; you're working anywhere. Well, if you're going to be successful from anywhere, you're going to need an incredible platform like Slack," Benioff told Yahoo Finance Live on Wednesday, taking a pause from his digital hiatus this summer. According to Benioff's Twitter (TWTR) bio, he's "intentionally offline" until Aug. 1.

In December, the software giant signed a definitive agreement to acquire popular messaging software platform Slack Technologies in a cash and stock deal worth $27.7 billion, making it Salesforce's largest-ever acquisition. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter.

In the company's annual letter, Benioff noted that the integration with Slack improved Salesforce's Service Cloud case close rate by 26%. Benioff told Yahoo Finance that integrating the customer service product with Slack allowed for those cases to "be swarmed."

"What does that mean? Swarm means, oh, we have a problem. There's an issue. You can bring the whole team together and kind of swarm around a case or an escalation. We learned a lot about that with our core technology, Chatter. With Slack, it's a whole other level. We're really able to help customers be more connected with their customers in a new way, but also resolve customer service issues even faster. Slack accelerates all of those things," Benioff explained.

As Benioff outlined in the company's annual letter, the broader ambition is to build Slack — which the CEO has dubbed "the central nervous system for the new world of work" — into Salesforce products to enhance productivity from anywhere and "create the most open and interoperable ecosystem of apps and workflows in enterprise software," Benioff wrote at the time

According to Benioff, Slack will be critical in the changing nature of work post-pandemic as more companies offer flexible options for employees to work both on-site and remotely.

"[The] world is changing. We can all see that. The pandemic has caused all of us to change. And we're creating a new work environment. We're going to be working more at home. We're going to be working also at the office," Benioff said.

The CEO pointed that Salesforce had 20% of its workers at home pre-pandemic. He expects that population to increase to about half, but there's "still going to be a large percentage in the office."

To be sure, Salesforce will host off-sites and events, including bringing back its Dreamforce Conference in San Francisco in September with simultaneous events in other locations. However, it will be a much smaller in-person gathering in San Francisco than prior years, and attendees must be fully vaccinated.

Benioff also has ambitions in the post-pandemic world to build a Salesforce ranch similar to General Electric's Crotonville campus, which will service as a training and cultural immersion facility to onboard employees and welcome their families.

"I'm very excited about the future and the future of work. I think Slack will be a key part of it. I think Salesforce Customer 360 will be a key part of it. Tableau, the analytics, MuleSoft. That's why, I think, Salesforce is so well positioned and wants to be a key leader and, I think, is becoming a key leader in the future of work," Benioff said.

Benioff, 56, Benioff started Salesforce in 1999, and in that time, it's become one of the top enterprise software companies in the world with a market cap greater than $218 billion.

The company recently delivered its best first-quarter earnings results ever, delivering revenue of $5.96 billion, up 23% from a year ago. Salesforce expects to generate $26 billion in fiscal 2022, with plans to reach $50 billion in 2026.

"The really exciting story here is that Salesforce is, very imminent, will pass SAP (SAP), and Salesforce will become the number one enterprise applications company in the world, not just number one CRM [customer relationship management], but also number one enterprise applications company," Benioff added.

Photo by: STRF/STAR MAX/IPx 2021 1/4/21 Slack restores service after starting 2021 with outage. STAR MAX File Photo: 11/30/20 'Slack' logo shot off an iphone SE 2020.
Photo by: STRF/STAR MAX/IPx 2021 1/4/21 Slack restores service after starting 2021 with outage. STAR MAX File Photo: 11/30/20 'Slack' logo shot off an iphone SE 2020.

Julia La Roche is a correspondent for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.

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