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Get ready for a fight between Salesforce.com’s Marc Benioff, Lars Dalgaard of SAP’s SuccessFactors, and Yammer’s David Sacks.”The cloud titans are lining up for battle,” Jason Green, partner at VC Emergence Capital recently told us.
He would know. His firm funded all three of these guys. Green personally backed Yammer and SuccessFactors.
“You’ve now got some leading cloud visionaries with the support of multibillion Fortune 500 companies behind them. I think it’s going to set up a pretty interesting battle in the next five years,” he says.
Sacks is founder and CEO of Yammer which was bought by Microsoft for $1.2 billion last month. Dalgaard is founder of SuccessFactors which was bought by SAP for $3.4 billion in December. Benioff has grown Salesforce.com into a $2.27 billion company.
They will be fighting to define the next version of enterprise software—especially how employees communicate with each other, with customers, and with the world.
It won’t be easy.
Sacks needs to teach Microsoft how to do social and how to sell into enterprises by viral adoption—meaning users adopt it directly and IT negotiates a paid contract later. Dalgaard needs to teach SAP just about everything about cloud. But SAP is listening. It appointed Dalgaard to its highest management board, its executive council.
Benioff needs to get the world to view Salesforce.com as bigger than just sales force automation software. He is now talking up the “social enterprise.”
Green won’t pick a winner. He says all three of these guys are “genius” and “visionaries.”
“Having bet on all three of those guys, we try to look back and think, what did we see?” Green muses. “These guys really understood the fundamental power of building in the cloud, a new architecture. And they ran their businesses as a service-oriented company, not a product business. They treat their customers as clients not as a transaction business. That’s a different mentality.”
Sacks and Dalgaard clearly have the hardest tasks. Some of their competitors have already declared them dead. But no matter who wins, these guys have proven that the old way of selling and using software will soon be on life support.
Long live the enterprise cloud.
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