Salesforce.com CEO Benioff says company landing more big deals

Former Oracle sales executive Keith Block is having a big impact for Salesforce.com, Benioff says

Salesforce.com's rapid growth is now being fueled increasingly by large deals for its cloud software, according to CEO Marc Benioff.

In the fourth quarter, Salesforce.com closed more than 200 seven-figure transactions and greater than 10 eight-figure deals, Benioff said Thursday during the company's fourth-quarter and year-end earnings call. In the same quarter of the last fiscal year, Salesforce.com had about 150 such deals combined.

"I know that none of our peers are seeing this [type of] large transaction volume," he claimed.

Last year, Salesforce.com hired former Oracle senior sales executive Keith Block to run its sales operations. Block's leadership and background were expected to improve Salesforce.com's chances in large enterprises, and apparently that is coming to pass.

Salesforce.com is also focusing more on vertical markets with Block's help, according to Benioff. "Customers by segment want more value from us," he said. "They want us to speak to them in their own language."

Block "has a vision around that that's even bigger than what we had, and we're letting him run that with all his gusto," he added.

Block left Oracle in 2012, after instant messages he sent that were critical of Oracle President Mark Hurd came to light through court filings in a lawsuit Hewlett-Packard had filed against Oracle.

In its earnings announcement Thursday, Salesforce.com reported US$1.15 billion in revenue for the fourth quarter ended Jan. 31, a 37 percent rise. However, it logged a $117 million net loss in the period.

For the full year, revenue was $4.07 billion, up 33 percent, with a net loss of $232 million.

Salesforce.com also pushed up its fiscal year 2015 revenue guidance by $100 million to $5.3 billion.

"No other software company of our size and scale is moving at this speed," Benioff claimed.

In addition, Salesforce.com announced a significant upcoming personnel move, saying longtime Chief Financial Officer Graham Smith is planning to retire in March 2015. "We'll be sorry to see you go," Benioff said. "You're a phenomenal CFO."

Along with landing more large enterprise deals, Salesforce.com wants to position itself as a full-blown software development platform provider with far more to offer than a CRM (customer relationship management) application.

In November, it announced Salesforce1, which ties together its original Force.com platform with development tools acquired from Heroku and ExactTarget.

Some 250 software vendors are now building applications based on Salesforce1, Benioff said Thursday.

The company has also spent heavily on acquisitions to build out a suite of related products for marketing, sales and support, while forming alliances with cloud ERP (enterprise resource planning) and financials vendors.

"We've got a lot of horses in the race here," Benioff said.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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