Salesforce Just Lost One Of Its Star Engineers To A Startup Marc Benioff Business Insider/Julie CEO Marc Benioff

In October, Salesforce introduced a major new product called Wave, which brings the company into the uber important “big data” market.

Flash forward a couple of months and the engineer who led Wave, Fayyaz Younas, has left Salesforce for a tiny startup known as Kahuna, reports the Deborah Gage at the Wall Street Journal.

From CEO Marc Benioff’s point of view, this one likely hurts. Benioff reportedly tried to convince Younas to stay, but that’s hard to do. While Salesforce is still known as a growing, energetic company, the 15-year-old company has long since crossed the line into big corporation, with more than 15,000 employees worldwide.

For engineers in the Valley, it’s not about money. An engineer like Younas can make lots of money anywhere. He left to follow the startup dream, Gage reports.

He was actually thinking of launching his own company until the Kahuna guys convinced him to take up with them.

The founders of Kahuna have the pedigree to do well. It was launched in 2012 by CEO Adam Marchick (who previously worked at Oracle via its acquisition of Siebel and Facebook and did six years as a VC ), and CTO Jacob Taylor (co-founding CTO of SugarCRM among other accolades).  It has raised $US13 million so far from Sequoia Capital, SoftTech, and a bunch of angels, according to Crunchbase.

Kahunas Fayyaz YounasTwitter/Fayyaz YounasKahuna vice president of engineering Fayyaz Younas

Younas joined because Kahuna is working on an interesting problem, he told Gage. It is helping companies deliver relevant marketing messages to millions of customers over lots of different mediums, like email, mobile web and apps, and social networks. It claims Yahoo, Fox, Hotel Tonight and “hundreds of others” as customers.

Salesforce is increasingly fertile ground for startup entrepreneurs. The founders of Okta, Zuora, and Heresay Social all came from Salesforce.

Over the past few months, several big names have left or been poached, too. For instance, Salesforce’s Chief Customer Officer Jim Steele left the company for startup Insidesales. Alex Bard, executive vice president and general manager of Service Cloud, left Salesforce in September to become CEO of Campaign Monitor. In the summer, ExactTarget co-founder and CEO Scott Dorsey left Salesforce as well.

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