Salesforce takes leaf out of Oracle's book to forge little co-CEO bromance

Room for another ego at the top, Benioff?

Two businessmen facing each other shouting into loudhailers

Salesforce chief operating officer Keith Block is to become co-CEO with Mark Benioff, in a move echoing their former employer Oracle's setup.

Benioff founded the CRM giant in 1999, having spent the previous 13 years under Larry Ellison's wing at Big Red, and has been sole CEO since then.

However, last night the firm revealed it was promoting Block, who came to Salesforce in 2013 after a 26-year stint at Oracle, to join him.

In a statement, Salesforce said the co-CEO model will allow it to continue growing at speed, as it targets $23bn revenue in 2022. The firm posted revenues of $3bn in the three months to 30 April 2018, and $10bn in fiscal year 2018.

The dynamic duo will both report to the board, with Benioff leading "vision and innovation" in technology, marketing, stakeholder engagement and culture, while Block will take over the company's growth strategy, execution and operations.

Benioff said that the announcement "reflects how Salesforce is run today", and emphasised that he and Block had developed a "very strong partnership" at the top of Salesforce.

He also pointed out that the pair have known each other for much longer, having both joined Oracle in 1986.

"We've really grown to be great partners," he told Fortune. "We wanted to cement that, so we've exchanged our vows and now we're co-CEOs."

Indeed, Oracle – now a primary rival and sparring partner of Salesforce's – has had a co-CEO model since 2014.

Founder Ellison stepped into the role of CTO and promoted Safra Catz and Mark Hurd. The trio said at the time it was down to the size of the company and its workforce.

But it's not a common management structure because it risks diluting the message of the person at the top and relies on the power couple getting along – which is why Benioff has been keen to emphasise that the announcement formalises an existing setup.

The firm's latest share price was up 1.2 per cent. ®




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