Oracle and Salesforce compete for enterprise customers, and now it looks like they are competing for executive talent because Salesforce has just hired Keith Block, a former Oracle executive, as its president and vice chairman.
Block to Lead Sales, Customer Support
After 26 years at Oracle, Block now joins rival company Salesforce, but it doesn't seem like he left Oracle on good terms. In fact, he left Oracle even before getting hired by Salesforce. His time at Oracle ended mid 2012 when it was discovered he was making some not so becoming for an executive remarks to an associate about the company and its 2010 purchase of Sun Microsystems.
Block had been text messaging the associate about the widely panned deal, and those messages had come to light during a company lawsuit trial (the lawsuit was not related to Sun). Despite all this, Marc Benioff, Salesforce CEO, is thrilled to have him, according to a statement. Salesforce liked his sales record, according to the statement, and his ability to lead large teams.
Both of those things will now certainly be under his purview, and of course, a marketing tool that will be helping enable those sales was also snapped up this week by Salesforce. The company paid a Salesforce record US$ 2.5 billion for ExactTarget, and now it looks like it has a man in place to help leverage that buy. Both of these moves put together trace out a bit of what Saleforce exactly has in mind; pushing more sales in the short term. It will likely take a while for Salesforce to integrate ExactTarget's technology, but its customers will be brought into the fold much quicker, and that could yield a fast turn around on some sales.
Salesforce + Oracle Rivalry
Block's hire by Salesforce is just another jab in the Oracle versus Salesforce match up, but we don't really know if Benioff simply liked the man's track record, or if he couldn't resist snapping up a man who so carelessly took a shot at team Ellison.
We know Oracle Larry Ellison tends to wear his emotions on his sleeve, and we bet he doesn't like this move one bit. No sir, this likely chaps his hide pretty good, and Benioff, a former Ellison protege, is probably happy to be responsible for said chapping.
We also can't help but wonder if Block will be able to sway any of his former Oracle associates into jumping over to Salesforce. Either way, this little rivalry just keeps getting more heated, and if Block can help Benioff reach his stated goal of turning Salesforce into a US$ 10 billion company, it will only get more intense.