Leyla Seka

Salesforce Launches AppExchange Partner Program to Bring More Startups into Ecosystem

Leyla Seka, executive vice president of AppExchange, talks updates to the partner program. 

Salesforce is rolling out a new AppExchange Partner Program on Tuesday, making it easier for ISVs of all sizes to participate by lowering the baseline percent-net-revenue model for all new partners from 25 percent to 15 percent, along with a slew of other updates.

AppExchange is an enterprise app marketplace with more than 3,000 solutions that have been installed more than 4 million times, Salesforce says.

The AppExchange Partner Program updates, according to Leyla Seka, executive vice president of AppExchange, can be segmented into three different buckets: business model, onboarding, and technology.

Seka rejoined the AppExchange team six months ago after working on Desk.com for three years, and on AppExchange six years before that with the team that launched it in 2006.

“At that point my title was Director of App Store, because at that point the App Store hadn’t launched yet and we owned the trademark, and then Marc [Benioff] gave it to Steve Jobs,” she said. “Last year Marc [Benioff] asked me to come back on to the AppExchange really with an eye to look toward the next 10 years of growth.”

At least part of that growth will come from smaller ISVs and startups which is why a new pricing structure for the program has been introduced, Seka says. “Since I’ve been back, about six months, I’ve talked to a number of startups, and VCs and a number of folks like that, and they’ve expressed to me that the economics were a bit high for some of these younger companies.”

The lower PNR will be available for new partners, whereas existing partners will be eligible for the new PNR terms upon contract renewal.

“The program is now wide enough for every type of company to be successful with Salesforce and that is very important to us,” she says.

One of the most significant updates to the program is the AppExchange Trailblazer Score – a point-based system that supports partners for their growth and activities, Salesforce says.

“The idea here is of course when you’re in a partnership we always will look at revenue, that’s an important component of how partnerships work, but for us it’s not the only component,” Seka says. “There are a whole bunch of other things that we as a company believe are really important in partnership and we wanted to make sure we created a system that allowed us to value that. Things like customer reviews, customer satisfaction, Salesforce technology adoption, are they using Lightning, are they using Einstein, are they pushing the boundaries and really innovating for our customers in an interesting way, and are they engaged in Trailhead.”

Salesforce launched Einstein in general availability in March, and it is going to be a key aspect of apps on the AppExchange moving forward, Seka says.

“The next cohort of the Salesforce Incubator is solely focused on Einstein so we’re really working hard with our ISVs and some of the younger companies to drill into Einstein and see what they can do and we’ll be launching those apps by the time we move into Dreamforce [in November 2017],” Seka says.

On the onboarding side of things, the AppExchange Partner Program includes several new tools to help partners accelerate time-to-market, including a new onboarding wizard, new payment tools, and a new dashboard that provides real-time access to partners’ AppExchange Trailblazer Score.

“In thinking through this release the score was kind of the thing, of course we’re creating this algorithm now and it will be available at Dreamforce but the score was sort of a revolution in so much as we are looking beyond the revenue components in partnership, we’re actually looking towards how these people partner with us, how our customers feel about them, and creating some other metrics that really define us as a company and our values and how we bring those values into the ecosystem.”

From a technology standpoint, AppExchange will provide partners with Salesforce DX when it becomes available later this year, and free Heroku access, which gives developers and ISVs the support to build apps in the language of their choice.

“The unification of Heroku and Force.com under one partner program, especially with Salesforce DX as the lightweight IDE on top, really is a game changer for any kind of ISV or partner coming on board given that we have these amazing technologies they can leverage and really do whatever they want with,” Seka says.

Also on Tuesday, Salesforce Ventures announced a new Salesforce Platform Fund with $100 million in new funding to invest in entrepreneurs who are building apps and components on the Salesforce platform.

According to Seka, 83 percent of Salesforce customers use an AppExchange app, with 1 in 4 Salesforce customers using more than 6 apps.

“It’s not just an app economy there anymore either, there’s components, there’s a host of different things out there that our customers are looking for.”

“We have wild momentum and a very captive customer base that is constantly looking for innovation and solutions to move the needle,” she says.

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