Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff isn’t too sure if Oracle’s cofounder Larry Ellison keeps track of Salesforce’s business.
But he says he’s afraid to ask because it might hurt Ellison’s feelings.
“He’s a very sensitive person,” Benioff said during an analyst meeting held on Wednesday at his company’s big annual conference, Dreamforce.
Benioff’s latest shot at Ellison, who also happens to be his mentor and good friend, came while discussing Salesforce’s rationale behind buying a bunch of companies this year, which cost over $4 billion in total. Investors are worried Salesforce might be overspending to achieve growth, especially following rumours of a Twitter acquisition.
Benioff’s reference to Ellison made a point about how some people tend to forget Salesforce’s massive size and market leading position in the cloud software business. He said:
“We’re going to hit $8.3 billion [in revenue] this year. I mean the numbers are not that bad. And Larry Ellison said on his call that ‘We’re the only one selling more than $2 billion this year in cloud,’ and I’m like, ‘Did you look at our financials? or ‘Do you just pretend we don’t exist?’ I’m not sure.”
It’s unclear which call Benioff is referring to, but Ellison has made a few comments hinting Oracle would become the first cloud company to reach $10 billion in annual revenue, a goal Benioff has set years ago.
For the record, Oracle is on pace to hit around $3 billion in cloud revenue this year, while Salesforce is expected to exceed $8 billion. Oracle, of course, generates nearly $40 billion in total revenue through its legacy database and software businesses.
If anything, Benioff could be referring to Oracle co-CEO Mark Hurd’s recent comment, which indicated Oracle’s the top-selling cloud software and platform company in the space.
“We believe this will be the second year in a row that Oracle has sold more SaaS and PaaS than any other cloud services provider,” Hurd said in a statement.
In any case, Benioff says he’s only pulling his punches because he cares about Ellison. He said:
“And the funny thing is [Ellison’s] probably one of my five closest friends, so I can’t really say it to him because I just don’t want to…He is one of the most sensitive people that I know, that’s probably why he’s so good at what he does. But that comment, I do want to make a tweet every time he says that, and then I’m like ‘I don’t want to hurt his feelings.'”
This chart from Salesforce should give a better idea of what the competitive landscape looks like in the CRM cloud software space: