"Welcome to the World Wide Web of people, an era of human connectivity on a scale
never before seen which will alter every aspect of life, work, and play." November 1, 2009



by Marc Benioff

Ten years ago, I was an executive at a traditional enterprise software company. The industry had stopped innovating. Conventional wisdom said that “innovation was dead.” I did not agree. I realized massive changes needed to be made in our industry, so I started salesforce.com with one simple idea: Make the software applications people use for business as easy to use as a Web site like Amazon.com.

Innovation was not dead; it was just emanating from a different place than we were expecting. The consumer Internet pioneers, like eBay, Google, and Amazon.com,were leading innovation. Taking advantage of the power of the Web, these companies were moving much faster and winning over much larger audiences than any of us had ever seen. Inspired by the Consumer Web, we developed a better way to serve business customers and ultimately transform the enterprise software industry.

Today, we still look to companies like Amazon.com and Google for inspiration, as well as a new generation of consumer companies, such as Facebook. Although we share similar philosophies with these companies, such as prizing intuitiveness and ease of use, the real power in this new era is not as much about learning from the consumer greats as it is about collaborating with them.

More than ever before, the lines are blurring between the consumer and enterprise worlds. It has become expected for people to use consumer applications such as Google Maps, Gmail, or eBay for business purposes. Bringing together social networking with enterprise applications represents the next phase in this evolution.

Relationships in today’s competitive business environment are paramount, and Facebook’s 150 million-user audience makes it an incredibly attractive community in which to conduct business. I realize that many in the business world have been leery of how this unknown frontier will affect their bottom line. But we are already seeing tremendous business value being unlocked on these social networking sites. And everything in this era is continuing to rapidly and profoundly change still.

We have entered a landmark new era in the maturity of the Internet. Web 1.0 revolutionized the transaction of goods and information and was marked by the killer apps from companies like eBay, Amazon.com, and Google.Web 2.0 gave rise to the next generation of applications, which allowed anyone to participate, such as through posting a video on YouTube or tagging photos on Flickr. Now, though,we have evolved to an entirely new level with Web 3.0—an era that is entirely about innovation and collaboration.

Cloud computing is enabling this new era by democratizing innovation. Today, anyone with an Internet connection can create even very complex and robust Web applications without any of the onerous infrastructure investment once required. Just look at the salesforce.com developer community, which now has over 450 independent software vendor (ISV) partners and 100,000 developers from around the world. Together, they have created more than 800 new applications now available on the AppExchange, our online marketplace for business Software-as-a- service apps and for which Clara Shih currently serves as product line director. On the consumer side, Facebook, too, is inspiring and empowering innovation with over 400,000 developers and entrepreneurs who have built 24,000 social applications on its platform.

When Facebook first launched its platform and application programming interfaces (APIs), developers clamored to build consumer applications, such as playing Scrabble, sharing photos, and “SuperPoking.” Clara changed this when over a few days she developed Faceconnector (formerly Faceforce), the first enterprise social networking mashup that pulls Facebook profile and friend data in real time into Salesforce CRM. Clara had the vision that the next generation of enterprise software won’t be about software at all. It will be about people and relationships, and social networking sites by design are all about relationships. Clara’s breakthrough idea was that using Facebook, business professionals could get to know the person behind the name and title, and thereby build a larger number of richer, more personal, and longer-lasting business relationships with customers,prospects, business partners, and colleagues.

Clara built Faceconnector on the Force.com platform using Facebook’s APIs and has made it freely available on the AppExchange, unleashing her innovation to our over 1 million subscribers worldwide.

Developers have taken notice and are following Clara’s example in “mashing up” business with consumer social networking sites. It’s a good thing, too, because times are changing. Increasingly, graduating college students entering the workforce and starting to take on leadership positions are shunning “antiquated” e-mail systems. (They say it’s only for grown-ups.) They all use Facebook. Social networking and collaboration have become the expectation. They will be frustrated and unproductive, and even reject business applications that don’t offer these features. Clara believes that five years from now, no enterprise application—CRM, recruiting, e-mail—won’t be integrated with the social graph. She’s right.

Recently, we announced a partnership with Facebook, led by Clara. Force.com for Facebook makes it easy for Facebook developers to build enterprise social apps on Force.com’s global, trusted enterprise infrastructure. At salesforce.com, we’ve spent the last ten years building out enterprise-grade functionality like workflow, security, multilanguage and multicurrency, and integration services “in the cloud” so that developers can focus on innovation, not infrastructure.

Both Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer at Facebook, and I believe that this partnership will enable a whole new class of business applications inside Facebook, such as truly social CRM. The Service Cloud and Sales Cloud, our set of technologies that allow customer service reps and sales reps to tap the knowledge of customer conversations taking place on social networks, are proof that social CRM is real.

At salesforce.com, we have witnessed firsthand the power of connecting on Facebook. Early on, I encouraged everyone in our organization to sign up and required everyone on my executive team to do so as well.Many of our employees had already built huge personal networks— many of them with hundreds of friends, and the ability to reach into and touch millions. They were eager to use this platform in their professional lives, and we were eager to harness their energy and networks.

We immediately saw the benefits: Employees intimately knew the features of the site and offered suggestions about how we could use it to communicate with one another, reach prospective job candidates, and generate enthusiasm and support for our company’s initiatives, such as new products and our nonprofit foundation. Employees, many who had recently joined us, or who were scattered across different departments or geographies, were able to easily communicate with one another as well as with previously hard-to-reach executives. The user profile—rich with information about one’s family, hometown, or outside interests such as a passion for yoga or mountain biking—allowed individuals to get to know one another, foster connections, and establish deeper relationships. That was pivotal: Engagement helps us to retain our community spirit, continually inspire teamwork, and make us more aligned both internally with employees as well as externally with customers and partners.

In an age where traditional advertising influence is dropping like a rock, we have looked to social networking as an opportunity to become relevant in our customers’ conversations, in their communities, where they want to be. We have a salesforce.com page to increase brand presence through sharing information about our company, posting photos from events, and uploading videos, such as a “trailer” to generate excitement for our annual user conference.We had exceptional success broadcasting our annual Dreamforce event through Facebook Events. As people registered, it was detailed in their News Feed, which further built viral awareness for our event. The result? We registered more Dreamforce attendees than ever before and did so more quickly. Hundreds of people have become “fans” of our page and their networks have been notified when they did so—thus further virally extending our reach and impact.

We don’t just rely on our company page. I frequently contribute to my “status,” in which I share what I am working on, convey my excitement for an upcoming event, or mention something great that was built on our technology. This information appears in my News Feed and reaches my entire network, which in turn, drives significant traffic to our site. The best part is the strength we have in numbers. Our employees update their profile with work-related information, and even mentioning that they work at salesforce.com magnifies our footprint.

Another real benefit has been in recruiting. The very best way to source new talent has always come from leveraging the relationships of our employees. With social networking sites such as Facebook or LinkedIn, this has never been easier. Our recruiters utilize these connections (hint: all young talented engineers are on these sites), and they also use social networks to actively keep in touch with former employees and interns. One of the most valuable features is the targeted search capability, which we use to find potential candidates based on their education (even specifying schools and majors), as well as by a particular past experience, area of expertise, or geographical location.

We are in the midst of a cloud computing revolution in which we are working, communicating, and collaborating in ways that are vastly different than ever before. The Facebook Era: Tapping Online Social Networks to Build Better Products, Reach New Audiences, and Sell More Stuff is the first book to reveal why these changes are important and how to take full advantage of them for your business. Author Clara Shih— the creator of the first business app for Facebook and an expert in this new blurry-lined world— articulately explains how the social networking phenomenon will fundamentally change how businesses fail and succeed.

Clara explores the crumbling walls between the consumer and enterprise spaces, and what this new era of collaboration and integration means for how all businesses can successfully build, market, and sell their products or services. Citing case studies from Victoria’s Secret to men’s clothing start-up Bonobos, Clara demonstrates that any company can adapt and thrive in the midst of these exciting changes. Most important, she reveals what everyone— from a CEO to an entry-level employee— must do to best prepare to compete, survive, and win in this revolutionary new era.

—Marc R. Benioff
Chairman and CEO of salesforce.com