Salesforce.com Impresses Me

Today Salesforce.com had a set of major announcements around their AppExchange platform, including the release of the AppExchange OEM Edition.  One of my portfolio companies – Rally Software – participated in this with the launch of their Rally Agile Product Manager product as one of the first four AppExchange OEM partners.  Rally Agile Product Manager helps enable Agile Software Development via Salesforce.com’s AppExchange.  If you are a Salesforce.com customer, it’s live on the Salesforce.com site.

The is the second time this year that a company that I’ve been involved in has worked closely with Salesforce.com.  In April, Salesforce.com acquired Sendia, a company I was on the board of, and simultaneously announced their AppExchange Mobile service.  While the Sendia deal was only a modest positive outcome for us, it was a perfect fit with Salesforce.com’s business and we decided to sell the company early in its life rather than continue to build the business.

In both cases, Salesforce.com had a clear strategy, articulated it to the companies involved, and then deliberately executed on the strategy.  Each time, I was excited by the prospects but cautious because of all of the challenges I’ve historically experienced working with public software companies executing on the strategies they articulate.  In both cases, Salesforce.com did an outstanding job of setting expectations and then executing on them – impressing me as a company that both has a clear strategy and the organizational will to follow through with it. 

Many of my portfolio companies have been long time Salesforce.com customers – it’s gratifying to see several of them have successful partnerships with Salesforce.com also.

  • http://spanningsalesforce.com Charlie Wood

    Hey Brad,

    Since a bunch of your portfoilo companies are salesforce.com customers, and one of them is a RSS reader maker, and I run a service that lets users subscribe to salesforce.com with RSS… wait, where was I going with that? Oh yeah-maybe we should get them all using RSS with salesforce.com. :-)

    -Charlie

  • http://www.feld.com Brad Feld

    Er, um, yeah! Let’s figure something out.

  • http://www.voicesage.com PaulSweeney

    Just a thought: do you think there is a danger that Salesforce.com will “see” the upside occuring for companies participating in AppExchange, and be able to buy them out before they really mature?

  • http://www.feld.com Brad Feld

    I don’t think that’s a large concern. I think most companies will welcome that dilemna. By controlling the platform, SFDC definitely has a window into the evolution of the AppExchange eco-system and that’s a hugely smart move on their part. However, I think it’s unlikely that they can “inappropriately” pick off the early successes – the companies making progress will have to want to be acquired and SFDC will have to meet whatever the rational clearing price is.

  • http://www.voicesage.com PaulSweeney

    Mmmmm… just wondering if you thought that if there is really only one potential “buy out” on the horizon, then that “rational clearing price” is not determined by a real open market, therefore might participation in the appexchange might inappropriately limit the exit options for the start up?

  • http://www.feld.com Brad Feld

    While that risk exists, I think it’s a non issue. As the Salesforce community around AppExchange continues to grow, you should expect to see some established companies – especially those that are complimentary to the core Salesforce products (e.g. CRM) – start to participate in AppExchange. If / when this happens, there will be plenty of logical potential exits. For example, all the of the project management software providers should be paying attention to AppExchange and considering working with it. Several of these are large enough independent companies to be good exit choices for the younger AppExchange partners.

  • http://crm.brainuse.com Tom Greenberg

    When salesforce aqcuires appexchange vendors, they start competing with the developers, and that is a bad strategy. If there are 2 appexchange vendors offering similar solutions, and Salesforce.com buys one of them, how would the other one feel about it?

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