The History of Salesforce and Where It Stands Now

From your point of view, what is the most powerful CRM for business in 2022? If you’re thinking about Salesforce, you’re on the right path. To attract and retain new customers, many companies across various industries rely on Salesforce’s expertise. And there are solid grounds for this. Salesforce offers businesses a one-stop solution to manage customer relationships and streamline business operations. 

But what is the company’s secret to reaching $26.5 billion in 2022? What is their strategy for gaining ground? If you don’t know that, let’s look at a brief history of Salesforce from the moment of launch till today.

The History of Salesforce and Where It Stands Now

A brief overview of Salesforce

Before we get into the history of Salesforce, let’s run over the basics of it. In brief, Salesforce is a cloud-based CRM platform that provides various software solutions to help companies drive sales and provide a better customer experience. 

Among various Salesforce solutions, there are:

  • Marketing Cloud: automates and integrates all marketing channels;
  • Commerce Cloud: unifies customer engagement across all channels;
  • Analytics Cloud: allows organizations to make accurate data-driven decisions and offers advanced analytics;
  • App Cloud: enables developers to build apps for the Salesforce platform quickly and without writing code;
  • Integration Cloud: provides a holistic view of customers across multiple cloud platforms by connecting the data;
  • Sales Cloud: focuses on the sales components of the CRM as well as on customer relations;
  • Service Cloud: allows businesses to scale their operations efficiently by providing a fast, AI-driven customer service experience.

The other tools provided by Salesforce include Slack, MuleSoft, Tableau, and Trailhead – we’ll discuss them below. Salesforce’s main focus, however, is on customer management. To make each customer experience more personal, Salesforce deploys streamlined workflows, artificial intelligence, cloud-based management, and real-time tracking of customer analytics.

By now, Salesforce CRM is already being used by globally prominent names like Spotify, Amazon, Toyota, Audio, and many others. To stay competitive in the market, Salesforce offers various customized solutions like:

  • Software As A Service (SAAS): provides software remotely instead of locally and the software is managed by a third-party vendor;
  • Platform As A Service (PAAS): provides a complete development and deployment environment in the cloud;
  • Infrastructure As A Service (IAAS): provides Internet-based computing resources for enterprise systems.

In general, Salesforce CRM provides various tangible benefits:

  • Ensures AI integrity with Salesforce Einstein;
  • Boosts business productivity with cross-cloud;
  • Maintains customers’ and employees’ trust;
  • Provides world-class customer service by delivering a true 360- degree view of your customers;
  • Ramps up sales performance; 
  • Launches and scales e-commerce quickly.

As soon as we’ve clarified that, it’s time to move forward and finally have a look at the Salesforce company history.

Salesforce history and key milestones from 1999 to 2022 

CRMs were designed to process and analyze large amounts of user data efficiently. However, some of them were difficult to use, expensive, and time-consuming to deploy on a server. Thus, Salesforce was developed as a cost-effective and affordable solution. Let’s dive into how exactly.

The beginning: 1999 -2004

Salesforce was founded in 1999 in Telegraph Hill, San Francisco. Marc Benioff was the person who came up with the idea for Salesforce. He also had three co-founders: Parker Harris, Dave Mellenhoff, and Frank Dominguez. The team wanted to create a platform that was easy to maintain and update without dealing with complex software maintenance. As a result, they offered a product as software as a service (SaaS). 

Soon thereafter, SaaS revolutionized business technology and assisted big data and analytics in flourishing. 

In 2003, at the first Dreamforce conference, the founders launched their on-demand application service – Sforce 2.0. The platform became the first one in the world that allowed the creation, hosting, and execution of client-service apps. The founders held this conference (and other Dreamforce events in the future) to showcase the latest Salesforce features and to let customers experience and discuss them.

In 2004, Salesforce successfully completed its initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange. They made $110 million in revenue. Since that time, the company has attracted many potential customers and investors. 

Diverse technologies: 2005 – 2009

In 2005, the company launched the AppExchange marketplace for third-party developers. Using this marketplace, partners were able to create their own applications and offer them to all Salesforce customers. For Salesforce, that was an excellent opportunity to expand its vision and capabilities.

In 2006, Apex was introduced by the founders as an on-demand programming language. It was specifically designed to process and manage the data. Apex uses a similar syntax to Java. With Apex, developers could execute flow and transaction control statements on the Salesforce platform. 

Salesforce didn’t stop there. And in the same year, Visualforce was developed. It is a framework for building user interfaces based on user needs. The Visualforce platform also supports JavaScript, Flash, and other scripting languages (in addition to Apex). 

In 2008, was created as a Platform as a Service (PaaS). By using Apex and Visualforce, the platform simplifies the development and deployment of cloud-based apps and websites that are integrated into the main app. To sum up, the platform has become a faster way to create applications hosted on the Salesforce architecture.

The above sounds promising, so let’s continue.

Introduction to Marketing Cloud: 2011- 2013

As a result of its success in sales and customer service, Salesforce then turned its attention to marketing. Originally, Salesforce Marketing Cloud was called ExactTarget and it is the result of three acquisitions:

  • Radian6: a platform for monitoring social media conversations about brands;
  • Buddy Media: a social media marketing platform that allows businesses to manage and analyze their social media content (ads);
  • ExactTarget: a digital company that provides marketing automation and analytics software for B2B marketers.

Then, the rise of mobile happened in 2013, so Salesforce had to adapt to the new way of interacting with customers. This is why:

In 2013, Salesforce released its mobile development platform – Salesforce1. It was designed to let users interact with data on their phones, in almost the same way they do on desktops. Moreover, users could access Salesforce apps, user apps and integrations, and apps on the AppExchange. 

In 2014, the company released a free online platform for learning Salesforce – Trailhead. The tutorials were designed to train beginners and skilled developers on how to code Salesforce apps and use Salesforce products. Thus, users were able to learn Salesforce technology and functions.

In an ever-changing development market, both design and technology change rapidly. When it comes to Salesforce, the user interface has barely changed over the years. So to keep customers’ attention, Salesforce took the following steps.

In 2015, Lightning was developed. Salesforce Lightning is a cloud-based version (PAAS) of Salesforce 1Platform. It allowed users to build applications as rapidly as possible, integrate data, and automate business processes. Essentially, Lightning enables faster sales and better customer support.

In 2016, Salesforce launched Einstein. This AI platform supports several cloud services to deal with ever-increasing data. Einstein was designed primarily to provide sales and marketing with more complete and up-to-date information about customers and potential clients. Einstein’s development marked the AI adoption by Salesforce and allowed the company to add many ML-based services to its products.

Acquisitions: 2017- 2019

The company was on a roll after making some huge acquisitions in 2017-2019. Among them are:

In 2018, Salesforce acquired MuleSoft. MuleSoft is a platform that helps companies transfer their internal legacy systems to the cloud. At that time, most large companies required integration. Thus, Salesforce became a handy tidbit for enterprises.

In 2019, the second acquisition was Tableau. It was one of the world’s leading companies in data visualization and business intelligence. This acquisition seemed a bit weird because the company already had an Einstein business intelligence solution. So why did the company purchase a similar solution to Tableau? The answer is – data, data, and data. 

Because data is the company’s most valuable asset, Tableau enabled Salesforce to become even more data-driven, thereby allowing better focus on customers. That allowed Salesforce to make more informed decisions regarding future growth strategy.

The response to COVID-19: 2020

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic greatly accelerated remote working trends and impacted how organizations operate. During this period, Salesforce delivered the following:

  • Salesforce Care: free rapid response solutions to keep customers, employees, and partners connected;
  • a set of expert advice, data, and updated products to help businesses get up and running again;
  • Vaccine Cloud: provides support to healthcare companies in the delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine.

And last but not least in the history of Salesforce, the company purchased its third big acquisition – Slack – for $27.7 billion. In the eyes of many experts, Salesforce overpaid for Slack. However, Salesforce’s recent acquisitions (recap Tableau and MuleSoft) have been the main growth driver so it’s safe to assume that with Slack, the company will continue to expand and grow.

The rise of the future of automation: 2021

Over the years, Salesforce has become more complex, due to the growth of its users and developers. Business operations have also become more advanced. In light of these reasons, the following events happened:

In 2021, Salesforce DevOps was picking up steam. As a result of using DevOps, developers and teams can release code faster with more quality, security, and control. To keep up with these demands, Salesforce provides the following DevOps tools:

  • Deployment tools: tools that make deploying and management easier and include Version Control, CI/CD, testing, reporting, and more.
  • Backup tools: include data and metadata in addition to CRM data;
  • Test automation tools: automation tools can run scheduled tests, ensuring Salesforce processes keep working despite any changes you make;
  • Code scanning: these tools allow developers to automate the manual review of Salesforce code and configuration.

Salesforce is actively funding the development of its DevOps capabilities. Aside from that, there were two significant events in 2021:

First, Salesforce announced its streamlined service “Salesforce+”. It was launched to provide prospects and customers with live and on-demand content. For example, the content may include interviews with CEOs of companies.

Next, Salesforce declined to use classical automation tools like Workflow Rules and Process Builder. To automate repetitive tasks and free up time for new sales and customer retention, the company chose Flow. The Flow tool facilitates complex business processes and offers more options for usage and is more powerful, among other benefits.

The NFT cloud, DevOps center, and Slack innovation: 2022

Salesforce is making a significant impact on the business world today. And to figure out why we’re going to look at some of the company’s achievements:

  • Revenue: Salesforce achieved a record $26.5 billion in revenue, with an increase of 25% over the previous year;
  • Status: Salesforce operates in 113 cities around the world and has over 78,000 employees. Currently, Salesforce is the number one of the largest enterprise software vendor (Acceleration Economy);
  • Interaction: Salesforce has successfully partnered with Meta Platforms. With the integration of WhatsApp into Salesforce’s Customer 360 platform, consumers are now able to interact directly with companies;
  • Slack: has released a feature called First Customer 360. This platform connects employees, customers, and partners to the apps and workflows they need to succeed.
  • DevOps center: provides developers with a single set of configurations and code for applying DevOps best practices. As a result, you have more control when it comes to deploying changes.
  • NFT Cloud: a well-known platform for companies to create, mint, and sell digital artwork using NFT technology. 

These are all quite outstanding outcomes and, obviously, this is only a brief overview. Salesforce is among those companies that transform the software development industry, and the Salesforce story definitely won’t stop there. 

Final thoughts

Over the past years of the history of Salesforce, the company has achieved many impressive milestones, but what’s more important is its impact on the world that they are trying to foster. Salesforce continues to offer enhanced services and features to its existing and new customers. Who knows where the Salesforce story will end up in the future? However, based on past performance, the future looks very promising!


Who founded Salesforce?

The idea for Salesforce came from Mark Benioff (a former Oracle executive). He also had three co-founders: Parker Harris, Dave Mellenhoff, and Frank Dominguez. As a result of Mark’s inspiration from Amazon, he decided to offer business applications similar to the easy-to-use Through this, the founders provided software known as SaaS.

How old is Salesforce?

Salesforce was founded in 1999 and is still growing today. In a nutshell, Salesforce has been delivering reliable and powerful CRM platforms for 23 years. It consists of automated workflows, artificial intelligence, centralized data management, real-time customer analytics, and other technologies. Thus, Salesforce will provide high-quality services and tools to its potential clients and customers.

How big is Salesforce?

Currently, Salesforce is one of the world’s leading software vendors. Let’s look at some facts to get a sense of how large a company is:
Over 150,000 businesses use Salesforce;
The market share of Salesforce is 23.8%;
The market value of Salesforce is $153.69 billion;
Salesforce has over 78,000 employees;
Salesforce’s main competitors are SAP, Microsoft, and Oracle;
Salesforce generated $26.5 billion in revenue (2022). It is a 25% increase over last year.
Globally, Salesforce has 113 offices in 90 cities. Departments are located in Atlanta, Indianapolis, London, New York, San Francisco, and Tokyo. The company will continue to expand in other cities – Sydney, Dublin, and Chicago as well.

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