Salesforce.com stirs up trouble
File-sharing company to roll out Dropbox competitor, and an identity management system
By Chris Kanaracus, IDG News Service, Auckland | Wednesday, September 12 2012
Salesforce.com is getting ready to roll out a competing product to popular file-sharing and online storage service Dropbox as well as an identity management system that could rival companies like Okta, CEO Marc Benioff revealed today at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco.
"Our customers have come to us and said we want a Dropbox for the enterprise," Benioff said. "So we have to step up."
The product will be called Chatterbox, a name that echoes Salesforce.com's Chatter collaboration tool. It's set for discussion during the company's Dreamforce conference, which starts next week.
Also on deck is Salesforce.com Identity, which, like Okta, provides single sign-on for multiple cloud applications at once. "Our customers have asked us to do the same thing," Benioff said.
It wasn't clear whether the new products would become generally available next week, or simply unveiled in more detail.
Benioff's revelations added to what will be a packed agenda at Dreamforce, where Salesforce.com is also expected to discuss its new Work.com human resources software and a new Marketing Cloud</a>].
Benioff also revealed that he considered purchasing enterprise collaboration vendor Yammer, which was acquired by Microsoft for US$1.2 billion.
While Benioff is a "huge fan" of Yammer CEO David Sacks as well as the product, "why sell when things are going great," he said. "That's not the decision that I would have made. They still have a lot of work to do on their app to make it more of a platform."
Still, Benioff confirmed that at one point he contemplated throwing in a bid for Yammer, but felt the technology would be too redundant.
"It's just that we have done so much [with Chatter]," he said. "Our customers are invested so much with Chatter, how would we bring the two together?"
More than 70,000 people are registered to attend Dreamforce, according to Benioff. Attendees can get into the event's keynotes at no charge.
Special guests will include motivational speaker Tony Robbins. Benioff recounted a recent outing with Robbins in Fiji, where he and a group of other people jumped off a tall bridge into a flowing river at Robbins' urging in order to "face their fears."
There won't be a similar event at Dreamforce, but that's not to say Robbins has nothing in store. "We're planning to get everyone to walk across [hot] coals," Benioff said.
At one point, interviewer Michael Arrington referenced Benioff's love of Hawaii and asked whether he approved of Oracle CEO Larry Ellison's recent purchase of an island there.
Benioff and Ellison have a long history of public back-and-forth, but Benioff was fairly restrained.
"As long as he's not on the island that I'm on, it's OK with me," Benioff said.