Salesforce has hired an executive to lead its equality efforts. The San Francisco-based cloud computing company tapped Tony Prophet as its chief equality officer. He starts at the end of this month.

Prophet will leading the company's equality initiatives, focusing on gender, LGBTQ and racial equality. He will report to Salesforce Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff.

tony prophet

Prophet most recently served as Microsoft's corporate vice president of education marketing. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Gannett, where he chairs the Transformation Committee.

He's also championed human rights and social justice efforts, including protecting the rights of young workers, educating female workers on health issues in developing countries, improving schools for children of migrant workers and addressing the root causes of migratory worker flows. He works with low-income teens helping them get college educations as well as improving healthcare for children and HIV-positive women in the San Francisco Bay area.

"Salesforce has been at the forefront of making equality — not just diversity and inclusion — and the education and healthcare of our youth issues that every business needs to address," Prophet said in a statement. "This is an incredible opportunity to have not just an impact at Salesforce, but more broadly in the tech industry and beyond."

In other technology news ...

Twitter Boosts Customer Support 

Twitter announced new customer-support features. The features enable businesses to tell users they provide help on Twitter indicate when they’re most active and ensure people know they have the option to send them a Direct Message.

Businesses can also display hours of availability on their profile and a more prominent button to start a Direct Message so people know the business offers support privately.

Companies using these features love how they enable them to better serve their customers and tell the world they provide support on Twitter.

These features can be activated on a new customer support settings page on the Twitter Dashboard website. Twitter officials said its users regularly want the choice to communicate about support issues via Tweets or Direct Messages, since sometimes support issues require sharing personal information or longer descriptions of issues.

Outbrain Partners with Bombora

Two New York City-based companies — Outbrain, a content discovery platform, and Bombora, which provides B2B demographic and intent data — are partnering to help marketers improve content and account-based marketing. 

The integration also extends the capabilities of Outbrain’s core interest-based targeting technology. Users can extend B2B audience segments across the Outbrain network, drawing on Bombora’s intent data. 

“We are focused on providing our premium brand partners with the tools to help them reach targeted audiences in a way that scales with users,” Aner Mazur, head of the Amplify product at Outbrain, said in a statement. “Our partnership with Bombora ensures that clients can be confident that their content campaigns are seen by their most qualified and valuable audiences, and that they are able to reach the right customers with the right messages.” 

Puppet Adds Two Executives 

Portland, Ore.-based Puppet, which helps automate the delivery and operation of enterprise software, appointed two executives. 

Gary Green joins Puppet as senior vice president of worldwide sales. He most recently served at VMware as vice president of worldwide sales for the network and security business unit, where he grew the NSX line from $2.5 million in revenue to $600 million in four years. 

gary green

HR leader Mike Guerchon joins Puppet as chief people officer (CPO). He previously led human resources at Riverbed during the period when the company scaled from 100 to 2,800 employees around the world.

“Puppet is growing fast, expanding across the globe, and pushing hard to enable every organization to adopt the transformative innovations that can make technology a competitive advantage,” Luke Kanies, founder and CEO of Puppet, said. “As we accelerate our growth with Gary leading our sales organization and Mike leading our people organization, we have the leadership in place to ensure that we not only grow fast, but do so while maintaining our great culture. I’m proud of where we are today, but even more excited for what’s coming."

Green joined VMware when the company had just over 100 employees, and was instrumental in building it into a world-class sales organization. Prior to this role, he was vice president of global strategic alliances at VMware, a group he grew from zero to $1 billion in revenue. 

Mike Guerchon

Before VMware, he was part of the leadership team at Synopsys when the company grew from less than $100 million in sales to more than $1 billion in revenue.

Guerchon was part of an IPO for Riverbed and helped build an organization that was ranked number four globally on Glassdoor’s “Top 25 Companies for Culture and Values” in 2014, and ranked in the top 20 worldwide in Glassdoor’s “Best Places to Work” in 2013 and 2014.

“Puppet is in a position most people dream of,” Guerchon said. “It has a great product in a huge market, and is driven by a fantastic team. We’re going to build on this foundation by creating a work environment that maximizes everyone’s individual potential. I’ll know we’ve succeeded when our employees are able to take their careers and personal development further than they thought possible.”

Optimizely Updates Experimentation Platform 

San Francisco-based Optimizely, the world’s leading Experimentation Platform, this week unveiled Optimizely X at its annual user conference, Opticon 2016 San Francisco. Optimizely X is a re-engineered platform that includes enhancements to Optimizely’s flagship web and mobile products as well as new products designed for developers that enable them to conduct experiments on any channel, device or application. 

“From Curie and Edison to Jobs and Musk, every great invention and scientific discovery was born from experimentation,” Dan Siroker, Optimizely CEO, said. “Optimizely X represents a quantum leap forward in what our customers can achieve, by letting them push the boundaries of experimentation and transform the digital experience for their customers.” 

Optimizely X enables experimentation on any channel and any device with an internet connection. 

LinkedIn Launches CRM Partner Program

LinkedIn has partnered with SAP Hybris, Oracle, NetSuite, SugarCRM and HubSpot to integrate in its Sales Navigator offering with CRM platforms.

The CRM Partner Program is a new initiative that allows leading CRM systems to integrate Sales Navigator functionality directly into their applications.  

To choose the initial partners, LinkedIn looked at its customer base and its use of CRM systems. It plans to expand integrations over time.

Optimove Raises $20 Million

Tel Aviv-based marketing cloud provider Optimove announced this week it has raised $20 million in growth funding from Israel Growth Partners, a private equity investment firm that focuses on later stage investments. The round marks the first funding for the nearly eight-year-old company, after three straight years of 100 percent year-over-year growth. 

The funds raised will be used to further invest and grow Optimove’s R&D. Optimove will also invest in growing its sales and marketing organization, and to hire aggressively in the US market, especially for the company’s recently opened New York office, according to officials.

“Our mission is to empower customer-centric brands to conduct smarter, emotionally intelligent marketing campaigns,” Pini Yakuel, founder and CEO of Optimove, said. “We were in a fortunate position where we never needed to raise venture capital money in order to grow, but we decided to take on a growth round at this point in the company’s evolution because we are already stable and profitable and we are now ready to accelerate our growth."

Baird Capital Acquires Majority Stake in R2integrated 

Baird Capital has made a significant investment for a majority interest in Baltimore-based digital agency R2integrated

R2i is a full-service agency with practice groups focused on integrating marketing cloud technology with brand expression and demand generation for a nationwide client base of mid-market and enterprise level brands. The agency was awarded Adobe Marketing Cloud Mid-Market Partner of the Year for its more than 400 percent year-over-year growth in its Adobe practice and has been recognized by Communicator Awards, W3s, Webby Awards and Addys.

R2i’s growth plans will center on expansion within specific geographic markets, industry verticals and across its marketing cloud partners, which is inclusive of strategic partner channels like Adobe, Sitecore and Acquia Drupal. 

“We’ve seen growing investments among mid-market CMOs in digital transformation and in order to get that right, and show ROI on that investment, they need partners who can help them build out a mature marketing cloud solution and run connected customer experiences," R2i CEO Matt Goddard said.

SourceKnowledge Institute Launches 

Montreal performance advertising technology company SourceKnowledge this week announced it has launched a free Data Driven Marketing Certification program, which will be part of the new SourceKnowledge Institute, a self-serve e-learning and platform agnostic interface. Marketed as the first of its kind in Canada, it empowers enrolled marketers to learn at their own pace.

Patrick Hopf, president and co-founder of SourceKnowledge, said, "By enrolling, marketers of every skill level will receive a solid understanding of data driven strategy and tactics in order to edge out their competition." 

The Data Driven Marketing Certification program administered by SourceKnowledge Institute focuses on foundational concepts, industry terms, key technologies and industry best practices. The program is divided into six core competencies: Digital marketing fundamentals, measurement and optimization, audience segmentation and analysis, attribution, tag management and macro implementation, ad creative and variant testing models. 

Fork Media Acquires Ad Platform

Fork Media, an ad tech company, announced a majority stake acquisition of Inuxu Digital Media Technologies Pvt. Ltd., a digital ad technology platform. Inuxu owns adgebra, a multi-device ad tech platform, delivering ad units with in-built audience segments, data management platform and fraud protection with a promise of higher brand visibility, engagement, recall and yield.

With this investment, Fork, based in Mumbai, India, will be the largest in-image advertising platform in the APAC region purely in terms of inventory volume, according to company officials. Inuxu is based in Pune, India.

Fork founder and CEO Samar Verma said, Inuxu is a "rapidly growing company with a remarkable value proposition and technology."  

Title image "Salesforce" (CC BY 2.0) by LeWeb14