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Salesforce Co-CEO Steps Down, Co-Founder Marc Benioff Now Sole CEO

Salesforce

Salesforce co-CEO Keith Block is stepping down, leaving Marc Benioff to serve as sole chair and CEO of the company, according to a company press release.

Block will remain on as an advisory to the CEO. The company also announced the $1.33 billion acquisition of cloud provider Vlocity, alongside, its fiscal fourth-quarter results that beat expectations.

Block joined Salesforce in 2013 and became operating chief in 2016. He was named Benioff’s co-CEO in August 2018. Block’s strengths in growth and operations were expected to complement the Salesforce co-founder’s focus on vision and innovation. Prior to joining Salesforce, Block had a 26-year career at Oracle  that ended seemingly contentiously.

“It’s been my greatest honor to lead the team with Marc that has more than quadrupled Salesforce from $4 billion of revenue when I joined in 2013 to over $17 billion last year,” Block said in a statement. “We are now a global enterprise company, focused on industries, and have an ecosystem that is the envy of the industry, and I’m so grateful to our employees, customers, and partners.”

In a conference call, Benioff called Block “an incredible leader and close friend, who has helped position us as a global leader and deeply strengthened our company.”

“I’m his biggest supporter. I am his close friend. I am here to help him on his journey,” he added.

The company also announced fiscal fourth-quarter results that beat expectations, along with an acquisition.

“It’s been my greatest honor to lead the team with Marc that has more than quadrupled Salesforce from $4 billion of revenue when I joined in 2013 to over $17 billion last year,” Block was quoted as saying in the statement. ”… After a fantastic run I am ready for my next chapter and will stay close to the company as an advisor. Being side-by-side with Marc has been amazing and I’m forever grateful for our friendship and proud of the trajectory the company is on.”

Benioff told CNBC in a profile published in early 2019 that he elevated Block to co-CEO to enable a “divide and conquer strategy” and to give Benioff time to do the things he enjoys. For example, after promoting Block to co-CEO in August 2018, Benioff took two weeks to focus on Proposition C, a legislative effort to generate tax revenue to help San Francisco’s homeless problem.

Block, for his part, said in 2018 that the title change was more about formalizing the dynamic of the relationship the two men had developed over the years.

“Our time together has been amazing,” Benioff said on a conference call with analysts on Tuesday. “I am his biggest supporter. I am his close friend. I am here to help him on his journey and as he begins this new journey, we are all with you, Keith, and we’re all very excited for you.”

Additionally, Salesforce said it has agreed to acquired Vlocity, a provider of cloud and mobile software built atop Salesforce, for $1.33 billion. San Francisco-based Vlocity was founded in 2014, with more than 1,000 employees, according to LinkedIn data and provides its software to some of the world’s top communications, media and entertainment, energy, utility, insurance, health, and government organizations.

As part of Salesforce, Vlocity’s feature set will continue to enhance and complement Salesforce’s industry capabilities and product knowledge, open up new industry capabilities built on the Salesforce platform, and provide customers with even more tools and expert guidance to digitally transform.

“With today’s news, the voice of the customer just magnified. The best customer experiences are industry-specific. Together, our customers, our partners, and our employees have accomplished so much. I am thrilled about our future with Salesforce,” David Schmaier, CEO and founder of Vlocity, wrote in a blog post.

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