Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com, talks about how Salesforce is all for sweetness and love and openness and all the good things. As VentureBeat reports:
Comparing Microsoft and Salesforce, Benioff said: “They hate everybody and we love everybody, and that’s pretty much the difference. We even love Microsoft. … This is our core strategy, love.”
Now, where do I begin? As I have recounted elsewhere, our dalliance with Salesforce began with their invitation to us to take part in their AppExchange (now renamed Force.com) ecosystem. They said they knew we had a CRM offering of our own, but still felt our online office suite would be a good addition to their ecosystem. We assigned an engineering team to do the integration, had a bunch of meetings and calls with their technical team, and with their full support, we completed the integration work. It was literally days from launch when we got the call: the VP in charge of AppExchange told us the project was on hold and Benioff would be calling me.
That’s when I got the full measure of the man: Benioff told me he could not permit us to play on the AppExchange as things stood, but he would be happy to acquire us. We had several rounds of meetings on this, finally I told him I really don’t see any cultural compatibility between the companies. He changed tack and repeatedly tried to get us to discontinue Zoho CRM, in return we would get to play on AppExchange. I was furious because both Benioff and his team clearly knew we had a CRM offering going into this engagement, and if they had set this as a pre-condition for us to integrate into AppExchange, we would never have put in the resources we did.
Since then, Salesforce has repeatedly tried to block customers from migrating to Zoho CRM, by telling them (falsely) that they cannot take their data out of Salesforce until their contract duration is over. We have emails from customers recounting this.
Now, realize that we face a far, far bigger competitor in Google, and yet we have nothing but praise for the way they have worked with us. In the grand scheme of things, we are not going to be killed by Salesforce, that’s for sure. I have no personal animosity – even today, we would integrate Zoho into Force.com if they would let us, because that would benefit our customers and theirs – but when I read an interview where he blatantly spins a story starkly in condradiction to reality I have personal knowledge of, I have to call him on it.