“Did he just say we’re at the half-way mark?” Whispered the ashen faced journalist beside me as Mark Benioff’s Dreamforce keynote reached the 90 minute mark.
Benioff did and the presentation did indeed go three hours because Salesforce.com had a lot to announce with launches of new mobile apps, customer service programs and HR services.
At the press conference later in the day, Benioff said “we are interested in collaboration and the customer. the reason we’re in marketing is because our customers want us to be in marketing.”
An interesting part of this is the Facebook relationship, with the Buddy Media acquisition 10% of Facebook’s advertising revenue comes through Salesforce. This in itself makes Salesforce a key Facebook partner.
Facebook’s relationship goes deeper with Salesforce, at the media conference Marc Benioff mentioned that the company’s purchase of Rypple came about because of urging from Tim Capos, Facebook’s CIO.
That deep relationship was on show in the opening keynote where Facebook were one of the strategic partners showcased by Benioff.
Of the products showcased, one of the important points that kept being raised was Salesforce’s role as the enterprise social media identity service.
A partnership between Salesforce and Facebook to provide online identity validation would effectively kill Eric Schmidt’s aim of Google being the Internet’s identity service although Benioff was at pains in the media conference to emphasise there was room for more than one player.
Google are also being challenged by Benioff’s announcement of Chatterbox, a secure online file storage and sharing service.
While the focus with the Chatterbox announcement was on the threat this presents to Dropbox and Box.net, the bigger targets are Google Drive, Apple iCloud and Microsoft’s SkyDrive.
Salesforce’s move into the various fields of HR, marketing, file storage and collaboration are part of the company staking its own position among the various web empires.
With a strong enterprise position, it’s quite possible Salesforce could establish itself as the fifth of the Internet’s great empires.
Every empire needs an army and a particularly strong claim Salesforce would have are the ranks of developers and supporters gathering around the service’s open APIs.
The move to establish an independent position on the web would also explain Benioff’s commitment to HTML5 as this avoids locking the company into an Apple, Google or Microsoft dominated app environment.
We’ll see over time how Salesforce establishes their position among the internet empires, right now though their range of services, customer base and partner ecosystem means they are well placed to compete with the big four currently dominating the web.
Paul travelled to the San Francisco Dreamforce conference courtesy of Salesforce.com