Behind the Cloud: The Untold Story of How Salesforce.com Went from Idea to Billion-Dollar Company-And Revolutionized an Industry

Behind the Cloud: The Untold Story of How Salesforce.com Went from Idea to Billion-Dollar Company-And Revolutionized an Industry

How did salesforce.com grow from a start up in a rented apartment into the world's fastest growing software company in less than a decade? For the first time, Marc Benioff, the visionary founder, chairman and CEO of salesforce.com, tells how he and his team created and used new business, technology, and philanthropic models tailored to this time of extraordinary change. Sh...

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Title:Behind the Cloud: The Untold Story of How Salesforce.com Went from Idea to Billion-Dollar Company-And Revolutionized an Industry
Author:Marc Benioff
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Behind the Cloud: The Untold Story of How Salesforce.com Went from Idea to Billion-Dollar Company-And Revolutionized an Industry Reviews

  • Daria

    Reading this book felt like listening in on a conversation you weren’t supposed to be included on - it felt unfair and too easy to get advice like that for free. I’m building a sales tech company so this book could not be more relevant. The playbook part especially, it’s incredibly specific and no-bullshit direct.

    I’d divide this book into three parts: 1. sales playbook 2. philanthropy 3. international expansion, and for obvious reasons I found the first part to be the most useful. I

    Reading this book felt like listening in on a conversation you weren’t supposed to be included on - it felt unfair and too easy to get advice like that for free. I’m building a sales tech company so this book could not be more relevant. The playbook part especially, it’s incredibly specific and no-bullshit direct.

    I’d divide this book into three parts: 1. sales playbook 2. philanthropy 3. international expansion, and for obvious reasons I found the first part to be the most useful. I started highlighting key ideas but it quickly turned into straight up copying the entire book, so I read that part of the book twice instead. I’m sure I’ll be reading many times again.

    Before reading it I was skeptical of how history of one company can be helpful, but the main takeaways are immediately transferable to any SaaS founder’s journey. I also appreciated getting a lot more color on how innovative Salesforce was for its time - how it started the entire SaaS industry, was one of the most cloud-based and web-based software services, pioneered software for salespeople, and much more. Didn’t expect myself to say this but this book is an absolute must for anyone in enterprise software.

  • Sarah

    I thought this book was really good! It was a super easy read and I found Marc to be clear, honest and extremely inspiring. At the end I wanted to start my own start-up! The success of SFDC and the SaaS industry is amazing and it was great to read a brief version of how it all happened.

  • Craig

    Marc Benioff does an excellent job relaying how an interesting idea can become a transformative tool for millions of professionals. Lots of people like to think that there too many "rich techies" but look at the apps and tools we take for granted today and each company was likely started by someone who took a huge risk to make her/himself successful. The guidance Benioff provides can be a useful template for many of us who are looking to break away from the pack.

  • Diego

    This is a fairly simple story about Marc's journey creating his company. I can enjoy a story about how companies develop, what issues are experienced and what was done to get through the tough times. Not every company will experience what Salesforce did, but I like how he inputs advice and strategy throughout the book. It's valid advice because I can relate certain points he makes at my company. There is some bragging going on in it, but I would probably do the same in his position. Benioff is a

    This is a fairly simple story about Marc's journey creating his company. I can enjoy a story about how companies develop, what issues are experienced and what was done to get through the tough times. Not every company will experience what Salesforce did, but I like how he inputs advice and strategy throughout the book. It's valid advice because I can relate certain points he makes at my company. There is some bragging going on in it, but I would probably do the same in his position. Benioff is a great CEO.

  • Tathagat Varma

    A most amazing and candid account of how Marc Benioff painstakingly built Salesforce from a fledgeling to a global internet success. I would strongly recommend this book to every entrepreneur and every person who aspires to be a leader - the book is so full of practical insights that it is like acquiring an MBA in starting up and then scaling up the business.

    I especially liked the value-driven focus that seems like a strong undercurrent throughout the book. While it is (relatively) v

    A most amazing and candid account of how Marc Benioff painstakingly built Salesforce from a fledgeling to a global internet success. I would strongly recommend this book to every entrepreneur and every person who aspires to be a leader - the book is so full of practical insights that it is like acquiring an MBA in starting up and then scaling up the business.

    I especially liked the value-driven focus that seems like a strong undercurrent throughout the book. While it is (relatively) very easy to build a tech business, what is not so easy is to create an ethical and value-driven organization.

  • Angelica

    There is a big and growing universe of books about company origin stories. See:

    ,

    ,

    ,

    ,

    , et. al. They all feel like they've been blessed by the same dashingly accessible prose fairy. They are smart. They are accessible. They are occasional

    There is a big and growing universe of books about company origin stories. See:

    ,

    ,

    ,

    ,

    , et. al. They all feel like they've been blessed by the same dashingly accessible prose fairy. They are smart. They are accessible. They are occasionally thought-provoking. They practically beat their chests over the importance of creating value and giving back. And almost without exception they gloss lightly over privilege in favor of an "I was scrappy and tough and almost lost everything" narrative.*

    Behind the Cloud is no exception, and it follows a recognizable narrative trope as old as business itself -- that of the upstart, the visionary, the rebel. Benioff identified Salesforce's mission as the "End of Software" and celebrated the Internet's ability to deliver software through the cloud.

    Pause for a second.

    I genuinely can't believe how antiquated that sounds -- celebrating the Internet's ability to deliver software through the cloud?! Today Amazon and Microsoft reap massive profits from cloud hosting, cloud storage, and other enterprise cloud solutions. Today the cost of servers is orders of magnitude cheaper than they were in the early 2000's, when Salesforce was just getting started. Benioff's vision of the future has arrived with a vengeance. Today SaaS companies are going public every quarter.

    And for me, this that's part of the joy of this book. I love SaaS. I love it as a business model, as customer empowerment, as a delivery system, as a product. It's transformed nearly every industry, and has applications everywhere. So reading this book feels like a delicious throwback to when this was all brand-spanking new, and Benioff was working hard to bring the good news and convert the unbelievers.

    I absolutely believe everyone who works in SaaS today owes something to Benioff and the Salesforce team, not least for the proving of the model and giving us all some benchmarks for valuation. Salesforce helped invent the industry. They normalized departments like Customer Success, and expanded the pie even further with AppExchange.

    And so. Credit to where credit is due. The book does a good job covering a myriad of topics in handy bite-sized "plays." I really appreciate that Benioff effectively covers every aspect of startup-land growth, with a cherry on top of global expansion. I also was not familiar with Salesforce's philanthropic model before reading this book, and found it smart and compelling -- both as a human and as a business owner. Lastly, even on topics that I'm obsessed with, like event marketing, Benioff offered good, actionable tips.

    So overall, I have high praise for this book. Enjoyed it a lot. Learned lots of great stuff.

    But! But.

    What I'm really interested in is Part II. Let's talk about Salesforce today. We'd all be hard pressed to describe Salesforce as anything but an incumbent. The revolution they led has succeeded. If revolutionaries become conservatives the day after the revolution... what's next for Salesforce? And what's next for the tech industry in general? Its rebel, reckless spirit has transformed. How are Salesforce and other tech behemoths coming to grips with their own new monopolistic identities?

    Venture capitalist Tomasz Tunguz has pointed out that

    . That still boggles my mind. But as the industry further matures, and exit via acquisition becomes more popular, and the big tech companies more entrenched, how much harder is it becoming for the next Marc Benioffs and rebel spirits to execute their visions?

    -

    * I say this in no way to belittle these entrepreneurs' accomplishments. But I do hope we are at a point where we can recognize the ways in which privilege and access beget privilege and access, and start speaking frankly and intelligently about this in our collective cultural myths and origins. These company origin books pretty much always fail to acknowledge the networks and resources they had.

  • Thomas Umstattd Jr.

    Good but not great. If would read

    and

    and

    first. This book read a bit like a long sales letter with the author not going into much detail about their mistakes. I feel the book would have been better if it had been written after the author was no longer the CEO of Salesforce. That said I am much more likely to buy sale

    Good but not great. If would read

    and

    and

    first. This book read a bit like a long sales letter with the author not going into much detail about their mistakes. I feel the book would have been better if it had been written after the author was no longer the CEO of Salesforce. That said I am much more likely to buy salesforce now.

  • Aaron

    In a former position, I was the main admin for our company's Customer Relationship Management system. We happened to use salesforce.com, and, while at an event for them, they gave each attendee a free copy of this book.

    For the most part, this is a big pat on the back for the author, Marc Benioff. Obviously, they're a billion-dollar company in just 10 years or so, so there haven't been too many lows to touch on. And, those that are mentioned are "brilliantly" dealt with by Benioff and

    In a former position, I was the main admin for our company's Customer Relationship Management system. We happened to use salesforce.com, and, while at an event for them, they gave each attendee a free copy of this book.

    For the most part, this is a big pat on the back for the author, Marc Benioff. Obviously, they're a billion-dollar company in just 10 years or so, so there haven't been too many lows to touch on. And, those that are mentioned are "brilliantly" dealt with by Benioff and his hand-picked team. It's hard to nitpick too much since he and the company has been so successful, yet, it would have been nice if Benioff dug a little deeper into the challenges he faced and analyzed exactly how we was able to overcome them...or what mistakes he may have made along the way and how he learned from them.

    The "plays" that form the structure of the book are for the most part generalizations that don't reveal anything new. Perhaps Benioff helped make some of these as ubiquitous as they are today, but there are plenty of articles, blog posts, and book out there on how to "differentiate yourself," "listening to your customers," and "protecting your brand."

    Not a bad book, but pretty basic overall.

  • Derek

    "Arrogant" is the best 1-word summary I could come up with. He's quick to take credit for himself and even quicker to criticize other companies. The tone was a turnoff.

  • Annasnova

    This is an ok read if you want to learn the story of Salesforce - especially the first part of the book is fascinating. I picked it on recommendation from my manager as an “excellent book” to help in my evolving role at our scale-up. I hold my manager in high regard so I had high hopes for the read as a more practical manual with tips and advice on attracting and retaining customers. I was disappointed.

    This is the case of a business book not ageing well, in my opinion. Had this been one of my f

    This is an ok read if you want to learn the story of Salesforce - especially the first part of the book is fascinating. I picked it on recommendation from my manager as an “excellent book” to help in my evolving role at our scale-up. I hold my manager in high regard so I had high hopes for the read as a more practical manual with tips and advice on attracting and retaining customers. I was disappointed.

    This is the case of a business book not ageing well, in my opinion. Had this been one of my first business books, or had I been a complete newcomer to tech and software companies, I would have gotten more out of it. Most of the advice was either something I’ve heard of in my places before or it felt out of touch and very specific to someone coming from a uniquely privileged position.

    Marc Benioff used some very smart tactics when starting out his company, he really was a visionary in '99 and it is impressive to build a company from scratch and take it to NYSE within five years. But: he had $6M of personal capital to start the company, over 10 years of experience as a VP in Oracle, and a vast network of high-level executives, investors, and mentors in other successful companies in the Silicon Valley. Yes, they managed to innovate during a dot-com bubble, and they created a whole new industry and gave back to the community in the process. But aside from a handful of tips in the margins, I found it hard to relate to the rest of Benioff's stories.

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