Salesforce’s enormous customer conference, Dreamforce, will take place in early October and the star of the show will be a new product called Einstein, CEO Marc Benioff revealed to Forbes’ Alex Konrad.
Einstein is Salesforce’s attempt to add artificial intelligence to its flagship customer relationship management product. While we don’t know many details about the product yet, Benioff does tend to like to tease the company’s major new product releases by dribbling out tidbits before the official announcement.
For instance, Benioff tweeted out that Einstein will be the “first comprehensive AI platform for CRM.” While that sounds like a bunch of buzzword gibberish, it underscores that Einstein is the AI product that Benioff had hinted about a few months back, when he spoke to Wall Street analysts during a quarterly conference call
“We are introducing this AI wrapper,” he said. “Artificial intelligence is becoming part of Sales Cloud.” He said at the time, that AI will eventually be part of all of the company’s apps.
It’s not the first AI product that Salesforce has offered its CRM customers. That honour would go to SalesforceIQ Inbox app, a product that came from Salesforce’s $390 million acquisition of RelateIQ in 2014, and that helps salespeople prioritise their inbox.
And in a sign that’s not terribly great news for Einstein, the guy who was running it, the co-founder and CEO of RelateIQ, Steve Loughlin, has already announced his resignation from Salesforce, Konrad reports. He could be leaving for a VC job.
But Benioff has been saying he believes so strongly in artificial intelligence as the Next Big Thing in the tech world, that he’s got others to turn to, such as Salesforce chief scientist Richard Socher. Socher is a Stanford AI researcher who co-founded a startup called MetaMind with backing from Benioff. Salesforce turned around and MetaMind outright in April, for an undisclosed sum, shuttered it and kept Socher and team on the payroll.
And Benioff has bought other AI startups, such as machine learning startup PredictionIO, smart calendar app Tempo AI. Before that, Salesforce was hiring data scientists, including poaching a number of them from LinkedIn, VentureBeat reported at the time.