Salesforce CEO jabs at Microsoft cloud moves
Thursday, Jun 18, 2009 10:57PM UTC
By Bill Rigby
SEATTLE (Reuters) - Salesforce.com Inc's outspoken chief executive took a few jabs at Microsoft Corp's lumbering efforts to build up its "cloud computing" services on Thursday, on a visit to the world's largest software company's home town.
Marc Benioff, a former Oracle Corp employee who founded Salesforce.com 10 years ago, rarely misses a chance to bash Microsoft as he spreads his gospel of cutting out software installed on users' computers and getting companies to use applications over the web.
"We are all about no software and they are all about software," Benioff said at a lunch in Seattle, when asked about Microsoft. "We are all about creating a whole new movement of cloud computing to move companies away from Microsoft's proprietary technology and monopolistic business practices."
Salesforce, with a "Ghostbusters"-style logo with the word "software" in a red, barred circle, is not an immediate threat to Microsoft. The San Francisco-based company had just over $1 billion in revenue last fiscal year, compared to Microsoft's $60 billion.
But the smaller company has crept onto Microsoft's radar as it attracts more companies to run business applications over the web, saving money on software, servers and IT administration.
In doing so, Salesforce has put itself at the forefront of the broad phenomenon known as cloud computing, or selling software as a service. Microsoft -- led by chief software architect Ray Ozzie -- is moving in the same direction, the company says, but little has actually changed in its product line-up.
"I'm a huge fan of Ray Ozzie, but I know how hard it is to operate within the culture of Microsoft," said Benioff. "That's why you really haven't seen them deliver any breaking technology in this area yet, even though they've been talking about it for many years."
Microsoft has been investing heavily in date storage centers and is expected to roll-out its "Azure" platform for cloud-based applications later this year. But Benioff was skeptical.
"I call it Azune, because it's got the same opportunities," Benioff joked, referring to Microsoft's relatively unpopular Zune digital music player.
Benioff did not offer any hopes for a quick recovery from the recession, but said his company was controlling costs and customers were adapting to conditions.
"Customers are starting to get their sea-legs, learning how to operate in this environment," he said.
(Reporting by Bill Rigby; Editing Bernard Orr)