Salesforce: study of an innovative company in San Francisco
March 19, 2017 18:06 By Sompoat Chansomboon Special to The Nation
San Francisco, benefiting from its neighbour, Silicon Valley, is now one of the leading cities in technology and an innovation hub in the world.
Starting in 2011, San Francisco has attracted companies such as Twitter and Zendesk into its Mid-Market street district with their “community benefit agreement”, a tax break to incentivise the city’s economic growth. Simultaneously with the limited office space availability in the Valley, many fast-growing tech firms decided to move to San Francisco. Tech giants such as Amazon, Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Mozilla, eBay, and LinkedIn have also opened up an office in the city as well.
Freshket, our winner from dtac Accelerate batch 4, is here in San Francisco to participate in their exclusive intense mentoring sessions by Google Launchpad. While here, our dtac Accelerate team took the opportunity to connect with tech companies here to study their culture and technologies.
Salesforce, with a present-day market cap of US$59 billion, was founded in a small apartment in March 1999 in San Francisco. It is one of the first group of unicorns of its time and is now the biggest B2B and B2B2C companies. Its success and innovative culture have drawn to it more than 20,000 employees. Their newest (under construction) building is soon to be the tallest building in San Francisco.
At the very beginning, they set the “1-1-1” rule where Salesforce will dedicate 1 per cent of revenue, 1 per cent of product, and 1 per cent of employees to give back to the community. The revenue part is obvious – it will be donating money to a cause. One per cent of product means it will let a charity or non-profit organisation use its products for free. One per cent of employees means its workers can ask for a day off to volunteer, or even host a volunteer event right at the office. This rule started when it was small, but as it grew bigger the one per cent practice does make a real difference to the world and more importantly to Salesforce itself.
We visited its office on a Thursday and the density of employees there is noticeably low. We were informed that this is what they called “Non-interruption Thursday” where most of its employees, mostly developers, are exempted from meetings on Thursdays. This culture was initiated when it realised that meetings and distraction from other departments were making it hard to focus, thus slowing its work down. Besides setting meetings, other interruptions such as emails from other departments are not expected to be checked and answered on that day as well. The result of this implementation is a significant increase in code submissions every Thursday.
They have a very distinct “Ohana [Hawaiian for family] culture”, which includes not just their employees, but their customers, partners and communities as well. These, among other benefits Salesforce offers to its employees, has ranked them No 8 on the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For List, a list it has featured in for the ninth year in a row.
Moreover, it has recently announced an exciting new global strategic partner-ship to deliver joint solutions designed to leverage artificial intelligence with IBM Watson, the leading Artificial Intelligence platform for business. In collaboration with Salesforce Einstein, AI, which powers the world’s No 1 CRM, will levitate the whole market of intelligent customer engagement across sales, service, marketing, commerce and more. dtac accelerate is excited to declare that our batch 5 partnered with both Salesforce and IBM for the best cloud services for our start-ups.
Sompoat is director of the dtac Accelerate division at DTAC, with 21 companies under dtac Accelerate management. This is the first of a two-part article.