Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff bashes Microsoft: 'They just can't keep that management team in place'

  • Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff slammed Microsoft at an analyst event, hitting the rival company on executive turnover and market share.
  • Benioff said Microsoft is too focused on Windows to really compete with Salesforce’s core customer relationship management (CRM) software.
  • In 2016, Microsoft beat Salesforce to acquire LinkedIn, a move Benioff doesn’t appear to have forgiven.

Don’t expect Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff to play nice with Microsoft anytime soon.

At an analyst event on Tuesday at his company’s annual Dreamforce users conference, in response to a question about whether the companies could ever work together again, Benioff slammed everything about the software giant from its Surface computers to its executive turnover.

In particular, Benioff charged that Microsoft is having little success in the customer relationship software (CRM) market — Salesforce’s core business — due to a lack of vision. Thanks to that, Microsoft officials are leaving the company to join Salesforce, he said.

“I like having competitors,” Benioff said. “But what I just get blown away with is how they just can’t keep, you know, that management team in place.”

Microsoft declined to respond to Benioff.

CNBC previously reported on his comments.

Salesforce and Microsoft have never been close; in fact, they have long been rivals in the CRM market. But the companies did appear to warm up toward each other two years ago when Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella gave a keynote speech at Dreamforce.

However, their cold war resumed last year when Microsoft beat out Salesforce to buy LinkedIn. And by all accounts, Benioff still isn’t over it.

Benioff began his rant Tuesday by noting that only three people in the analyst briefing had Surface laptops, a not-so-subtle dig at Microsoft’s lagging PC marketshare. Then, he took aim at Microsoft’s CRM business, saying the company only had 1% of the market.

He then argued that Microsoft’s lack of success in CRM is due to what he called “Windows fever.” Microsoft’s developer events, including its flagship Build conference, are focused on programmers who make software for its core Windows operating system, Benioff said. But Microsoft doesn’t really demonstrate the same kind of enthusiasm for its CRM product or developers.

“I haven’t seen that in any other part of their business, other than the Windows API,” he said.

That last point was a not-so-subtle shot at Nadella, who has publicly tried to move Microsoft away on relying so much on Windows, in light of the still-shrinking PC industry.

Get the latest Microsoft stock price here.

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