Salesforce’s Benioff Claims SAP ‘Is Scared’

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Mark Benioff Salesforce.com Dreamforce 2012
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Spurned wrath? Marc Benioff blasts SAP CEO claiming he rebuffed a genuine partnership offer

Salesforce.com’s CEO, Marc Benioff, tends to hold little back when he discusses rival technology CEOs.

And this week he ran true to form and took the opportunity to take a pot shot at his rival at the German software giant, SAP.

Spurned Partnership

Benioff said in an interview on Thursday at a customer conference in Munich that he had offered his counterpart at SAP an partnership opportunity so that the two companies would work more closely together.

The offer came because customers had asked for greater technical compatibility between the two. Salesforce already has technology and data sharing deals with Oracle, Microsoft and VMware.

SAP_ExecutiveBoard_McDermott_001_4But according to Bloomberg, SAP CEO Bill McDermott rejected the approach.

“We offered an olive branch to them,” Benioff was reported as saying. “I’ve told Bill I’ve wanted to have a deeper relationship with them. Yes we’re competitors, we should also be partners. He’s scared of Salesforce.”

Benioff was in Germany visiting customers, and he also outlined plans to invest more than $1bn (£640m) in Germany over the next five years.

It should be noted that Salesforce has had long-standing plans to rollout three data centres in Europe. It opened its first European data centre last October in the UK. The German data centre will open next month near Frankfurt, and another is planned for France.

Takeover Interest

Salesforce has been at the centre of takeover speculation for the past few months thanks to its strong position in the cloud-computing market.

A number of competitors including Oracle, Microsoft and SAP were thought to be interested in acquiring the business, all of which has triggered a 19 percent rise in Salesforce’s market value this year.

Bloomberg reported in April that Salesforce was working with bankers to field takeover offers. Microsoft also apparently evaluated a possible bid for Salesforce, but later said it was not interested.

And Bloomberg also said that Benioff and SAP’s McDermott held strategy talks last year that included a potential acquisition of Salesforce it reported, citing people with knowledge of the matter.

But in May this year, SAP’s McDermott firmly quashed reports he was interested in Salesforce, saying he thought that Salesforce was too expensive for an acquisition. He also said that he didn’t think any companies in the industry would buy Salesforce.

Meanwhile, a SAP spokesman has declined to comment on Benioff’s claims that SAP is scared of Salesforce, and instead referred to remarks McDermott made in May, in which he said Salesforce’s “prices are going to drop and revenues will be under pressure.”

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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