Benioff Barely Talks Salesforce’s Slack Buy During Dreamforce Keynote

The CRM vendor CEO said little about the multibillion dollar deal. But the company did unveil three platforms.

Kelly Teal, Contributing Editor

December 3, 2020

4 Min Read
Clouds with Salesforce icon shape


Salesforce’s Marc Benioff

Salesforce’s Slack purchase will enable “the social enterprise,” Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said on Wednesday. He was kicking off the customer relationship management vendor’s annual Dreamforce event, held over video because of COVID-19.

But that’s about all Benioff had to say about the staggering $27.7 billion acquisition.

Surprisingly, Benioff discussed the Salesforce-Slack deal only in passing. That could be due in part to the transaction just being made public on Tuesday. Perhaps it also had to do with the purchase running contrary to leaders’ assertions earlier this year. During an earnings call, Benioff told one analyst, “I don’t think I could have ever imagined any acquisitions happening this year.” Mark Hawkins, president and CFO of Salesforce, said much the same once the Vlocity buy was wrapped. In February, he told investors and analysts Salesforce did not see “huge opportunity” to undergo more M&A in the near future.

“It’s not what we’re working on,” he said.

However, Salesforce clearly has been working on a Slack purchase for some time. The Salesforce-Slack combination stands out as one of the largest ever in the software sector. (It also amounts to about 25 times more than Slack’s estimated 2021 revenue; on Wednesday, Wall Street made its misgivings known.) Agreements of that size do not just materialize on a whim or in a matter of days. Indeed, that Benioff barely talked about Slack and what it will do for partners seemed like a miss.

Overall, Dreamforce opener remained light on news, and heavy on customer testimonials and celebrity appearances (James Corden, Metallica, Lenny Kravitz). Yet executives did give three updates of interest to the channel.

News from Dreamforce

For many a technology company, the pandemic has spurred growth – often, to unprecedented heights. Salesforce is no exception. The vendor has recorded record revenue amid COVID-19-fueled demand. And soaring need for cloud-enabled capabilities has the CRM vendor projecting revenue of $25.5 billion in 2022.

Reaching that target means Salesforce must keep innovating all while engaging its thousands of channel partners. So far this year, the company has released platforms meant for the “new normal” of remote work, a trend Benioff predicts will continue beyond the pandemic (and so do a number of analysts). Those new solutions include, Service Cloud Voice and a new version of Salesforce Field Services.

On the heels of those releases, Salesforce on Wednesday unveiled some additional functionalities.

First on the docket, Hyperforce (not to be confused with the Power Rangers). Salesforce bills this as “a reimagination” of the CRM’s architecture so that it works across major public clouds.


Salesforce’s Bret Taylor

“The past is gone,” said Bret Taylor, president and COO of Salesforce. “We’re creating a new world. We’re creating a new Salesforce.”

To that point, Hyperforce reduces Salesforce public cloud implementation time, comes with built-in security, compliance and data protection, and supports local storage. It also is backwards-compatible with every Salesforce app, something that will surely come as a relief to developers in the channel. Further, Salesforce put its Einstein artificial intelligence into Hyperforce.

“If you don’t have a digital business, you don’t have a business,” Taylor said.

Hyperforce will make Salesforce available in every world region, Taylor said. The software already is live in India and Germany, and will roll out in 10 countries next year, he said. It serves any organization size. All in all, the changes “will make Salesforce your engine for growth,” Taylor said.


Salesforce’s Sarah Franklin

After that, Sarah Franklin, vice president and general manager of Platform, Trailhead and AppExchange at Salesforce, introduced Einstein Automate.

“We’re laser-focused on intelligence, integration and automation,” she said.

For Salesforce partners, that means clicking, instead of coding, to bring multiple systems together, thanks to Flow Orchestrator. Plus, the new MuleSoft Composer connects disparate apps and data to Salesforce. That requires no additional code and lets users streamline information across apps – a big challenge under legacy circumstances. As part of the Einstein Automate library, the Salesforce AppExchange now contains more than 700 solutions for automating processes.

Finally, Salesforce presented Service Cloud Workforce Engagement. The platform lets contact center leaders organize their workforce from anywhere. That includes distributing assignments to specific agents, regardless of where they’re located. Features include forecasting, capacity planning across all digital channels and personalized engagement. Salesforce expects to make Service Cloud Workforce Engagement generally available in the first half of next year.

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About the Author(s)

Kelly Teal

Contributing Editor, Channel Futures

Kelly Teal has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist, editor and analyst, with longtime expertise in the indirect channel. She worked on the Channel Partners magazine staff for 11 years. Kelly now is principal of Kreativ Energy LLC.

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