In the information management world, only Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff can better Oracle CEO Larry Ellison for pithy put-downs. At a panel discussion at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco this week, it looks like the put-downs will be more than just verbal. He admitted that at Dreamforce next week, Salesforce is readying applications to compete with Box, Okta and Asana.
Asana, Box, Okta Competitors
The announcement came during a discussion during which he indicated that Salesforce is just about ready to roll-out a file-sharing product that will compete with Box, another one called Salesforce Identity is to offer single sign-on across numerous applications just like Okta, while Work.com will compete with Asana.
These were not really announcements so much as passing comments over the course of the interview, but he did say that there will be a lot more about the products at next week’s Dreamforce conference in San Fransisco.
He couldn’t have conceived of a better advertisement for Dreamforce by dropping these tidbits if he tried. But when the interview was over and everything put in perspective, he reveled very little about any of them.
Asked by moderator Mike Arrington whether the idea was to kill off these companies, he replied that it was all just business.
Our industry is not about The Hunger Games…I don’t look at business as a zero sum game. It’s about delivering value to customers, to give value back to customers," Benioff said.
It also seems difficult to imagine, for example, anything coming out of Salesforce killing off a company like Box, which has grown enormously in recent times. Had Box stuck its feet in the enterprise space and refused to move it might have been different, but it has expanded its client-base beyond the traditional enterprise and moved into higher education, creative agencies and regulated industries with mobility as well.
Okta has developed to such a point that it has been cited by Forrester as one of the top companies in cloud-identity management with a customer portfolio to prove it, and Asana -- well maybe it’s a bit early to tell how it will fare as it only launched to the public last December, even if it had been around for a long time before that.
That is not to say that Salesforce won’t want to swallow them up though, because Salesforce definitely has deep enough pockets. But it seems that Salesforce is avoiding that -- it has made 20 acquisitions in recent years -- and prefers to take them on in a product-matching battle.
Chatterbox, Salesforce Identity, Work.com
But back to Benioff. During the interview he said that customer demand had pushed them to develop a Dropbox for the enterprise, so Salesforce has come up with Chatterbox, a reference to its heavily marketed Chatter collaboration tool.
Our customers want a Dropbox for the enterprise, and they want it integrated into the [Salesforce] platform…They want the applications built in there,” he said.
Salesforce Identify will also be unveiled next week, as a competitor to Okta, and again, according to Benioff, this too was at the behest of Salesforce customers.
We have something to help manage your Salesforce identity across different Salesforce services….It’s about identity as a service,” he said.
Salesforce will also be unveiling a new product called Work.com that will improve its human resources software and that will compete with Asana, but details about this were even fewer than the details about the other two releases.
Neither is it clear whether these products will be released, or whether Dreamforce will just provide competitors an outline of the shape of things to come. All will be revealed next week, with 70, 000 people already registered for it. Interesting week ahead.