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My head is in the clouds

Like a few other speakers and writers I get around a little and, this week, I had the opportunity to keynote at Dreamforce in San Francisco.  Now, many of you may not have heard of or experienced Dreamforce, so I’m quickly going to share the experience with you now.

Why is Salesforce’s conference so good?

Whoa.  How long have you got?

Let’s start with the sheer numbers.

Dreamforce attracts an audience of 145,000 people.


That’s more than the FA Cup Final audience at Wembley.

That’s 145,000 individuals.


Dreamforce contributes around $100 million to the San Franciscan economy.  That’s $100 million in one week.



And this is just a 15 year old company?  A wee upstart that was a spin-off of Oracle (in fact, the seed funding came from Larry Ellison himself, who is the mentor of Marc Benioff, the founder and ex-Oracle and Apple guy)?

Then you have to look at the agenda with keynotes from Hilary Clinton, Al Gore, Arianna Huffington, Marc Andreessen, Will.i.am, Neil Young and Chris Skinner J


Then there is the demo area with partners and sponsors such as Accenture and Deloitte and a zillion firms I’ve never heard of (when did this could market become so big?).


Finally there’s the entertainment, with bands playing all day over lunch and cocktails, culminating in some relatively unknown performer who everyone seemed to like called Bruno Mars.

Dreamforce - bruno


I could share a lot more, but don’t want to irritate my friends who compete with Salesforce.  Suffice to say the SaaS (Software as a Service) and the cloud-based concept of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) has come a long, long way.

What I will finish with is the bit about Salesforce that I love the best because it’s unique.  I haven’t seen it in any other company.

Corporate philanthropy.

In Salesforce’s case this is embodied in their 1/1/1 philosophy.

What is that, you ask?

Well, it’s integrating corporate philanthropy into the fabric of the company’s culture.  I realised this as I talked to staff at the event, but here’s the thing: it works and it’s amazing.

The basic premise is that the company will give 1% of its time, services and profits to charitable causes.  Using the 1/1/1 model, Salesforce has given:

  • 1% Time: Salesforce employees are awarded 6 paid days of volunteer time to use over the course of a year.
  • 1% Product: The Salesforce Foundation facilitates the donation and discount of Salesforce licenses to non-profits, helping them to increase their operating effectiveness and focus more resources on their core mission.
  • 1% Equity: Using 1% of founding stock to offer grants focused on technology innovation in non-profits and youth development programs, Salesforce has given nearly millions in grants to qualified non-profits.

So I can’t say much, except that Salesforce has not only reinvented the software model – SaaS – but the corporate model – 1/1/1 – and there’s something there in what they’re doing that all of us could learn from.

Just a thought.

[BTW, why are we still debating cloud?]

About Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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