SAP rival plunges into a leadership crisis

SAP rival plunges into a leadership crisis

Marc Benioff

The company founder takes over the management of Salesforce alone again.

(Photo: ddp/Kris Tripplaar/Sipa USA)

san francisco Of the SAP-Rival Salesforce is in one of the most serious management crises since the company was founded more than two decades ago. Founder and co-boss Marc Benioff has to cope with the departure of numerous high-ranking executives. The cloud provider’s shares are at their lowest level since the beginning of the corona pandemic.

“It’s like a punch in the stomach,” Benioff said in an interview with CNBC. “In managing the company, I’m looking for the best people in the world to bring them into the company.” Every departure is then a serious setback.

Earlier this week, the head of the communications service announced SlackStewart Butterfield, announced his departure. He wants to take better care of his family, he said. Salesforce had Slack acquired in July 2021 for nearly $28 billion. It was the most expensive acquisition in the company’s history.

The head of the analysis service Tableau, Mark Nelson, is also leaving the group. His service was bought by Salesforce in 2019 for almost $16 billion. Initially, no successor was named for Nelson because his team is to be integrated more into the company’s product portfolio.

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Co-CEO Bret Taylor announced his retirement last week. The 42-year-old had Salesforce operationally co-managed with Benioff. Taylor wants to leave the company at the end of January. “I’ve decided to go back to my entrepreneurial roots,” the manager shared. “Taylor was like a brother to me,” Benioff said.

Marc Benioff (left) and Bret Taylor at a developer conference in September

The dual leadership at Salesforce is history.

(Photo: Bloomberg)

Taylor previously founded the start-up Quip, which made software for document collaboration. Salesforce bought the company in 2016, Taylor quickly rose to become chief operating officer and co-chief executive in November last year.

SAP catches up with Salesforce on the stock exchange

The leadership crisis is also leading to a shift of forces in the global enterprise software market. The cloud pioneer Salesforce had decoupled from its German competitor SAP in the stock market valuation during the corona pandemic. Last November, Salesforce was worth twice as much as the Dax group on the stock exchange with a market capitalization of more than $303 billion.

The relationship has completely changed. The SAP share has recently risen sharply, while Salesforce was punished on the stock exchange. The stocks are now at a similar level. Since mid-October alone, SAP stock has gained around 25 percent, while Salesforce stock has lost around nine percent.

In terms of sales, both companies are again on par. As late as the second quarter, Benioff proudly announced that he had left SAP behind, saying, “Salesforce is the largest enterprise software provider in the world.”

When presenting the numbers for the third quarter, SAP and Salesforce were both with sales of around $7.8 billion. However, SAP boss Christian Klein was able to give a much more positive outlook on future business than Benioff. Since then, the German group has risen sharply on the stock exchange, while Salesforce has plummeted.

SAP boss Christian Klein

The Dax group has caught up with Salesforce.

(Photo: IMAGO/photothek)

Benioff is also personally criticized. He has managed the company since it was founded in 1999. So far he has not been able to find a successor. Two years ago, a dual leadership with Keith Block broke up. The manager left the chief post after just 18 months. Tylor’s departure is now proof “that the dual leadership does not work,” criticized analyst Brent Thill from the investment bank Jefferies.

For US Investment Bank analyst Keith Weiss MorganStanley Benioff must now show that he can turn the company around. Most recently, Salesforce has grown through large acquisitions such as Slack. Now Benioff has to make the company more efficient.

On Thursday, Wolfe Research downgraded Salesforce stock to a hold from a buy. Analysts wrote that the company is entering a “new and difficult chapter” following execution failures, big-name departures and slowing revenue growth.

More: Co-boss leaves Salesforce – founder Benioff is alone at the top of the group again

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