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Here’s Bret Taylor’s first big tech move at Salesforce as co-CEO

by SuperiorInvest

Bret Taylor, co-CEO of Salesforce, speaks at the Viva Technology Conference in Paris on June 15, 2022.

Nathan Laine | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Ten months after his promotion to co-executive director Salesforceserving alongside the famous founder Marc BenioffBret Taylor is preparing to take the stage at the annual Dreamforce conference under his new name for the first time.

A career technologist with a master’s degree in computer science from Stanford, Taylor admitted to CNBC that the big Salesforce product unveiled at this year’s event is “blatantly geeky.” Called Genie, it’s designed to update Salesforce’s dominant sales database software with cutting-edge technology that puts real-time information at salespeople’s fingertips.

“We’re really adding a new technology capability to our platform,” Taylor said in an interview. Taylor and Benioff will deliver their keynote address on Tuesday, begins at 10:00 a.m. Pacific time in San Francisco.

To some extent, Salesforce acknowledges that its existing systems are somewhat outdated. The 23-year-old company’s original data storage software works with a transactional database from Soothsayer, where Benioff spent 13 years before founding Salesforce. The world has become much more complex in recent decades, and companies are flocking to databases that can process data from many other sources and enable faster decision-making.

Salesforce’s move toward Genie began in 2019, when the company introduced a customer data platform, or CDP, that marketers can use to collect data about clients before sending ads. With Genie, marketers will have the latest information available through the Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

Over time, Taylor said, Genie will be integrated into Salesforce’s other core products — its sales, service and commerce clouds. Companies can pay to add Genie functionality to their existing Salesforce installations, the spokesperson said.

Taylor, co-creator Google Maps who also led Facebook the technology group before joining Salesforce in 2016 through the acquisition of its startup Quip, is under some pressure from Wall Street as rising interest rates and the threat of a recession drive investors away from growth stocks. Salesforce shares have fallen 40% this year, more than double the decline of the S&P 500, and are trading near their lowest since April 2020.

Salesforce vs. S&P 500

CNBC

In his earnings report last month, Salesforce lowered its full-year profit and revenue expectations. It now expects annual revenue growth of about 17%, up from 25% last fiscal year, which would mark by far the slowest rate of expansion since the company went public in 2004.

Taylor also has a lot going for him outside of Salesforce. He is the chairman Twitterwhich is embroiled in a heated and very public legal battle Elon Musk which will determine the future of society on social networks. Twitter is sue Musk try to assert yourself Tesla acquisition agreement of the CEO, which subsequently tried to quit.

Taylor declined to talk about the ordeal itself, saying he “doesn’t look like much” when he meets with Salesforce clients. And that’s how he spends most of his time.

With the addition of Genie, Salesforce will enhance the capabilities of Einstein, the company’s artificial intelligence engine that runs in Sales Cloud and other applications. Einstein can recommend which business opportunities are most likely to turn into sales, and Genie pulls the latest information, so suggestions are drawn from the data in seconds, and soon in milliseconds.

Genie will also work in Tableau, the data analytics tool that Salesforce acquired in 2019, making the charts as up-to-date as possible.

Salesforce’s competitors in marketing software, including Adobe and Oracle emphasize the importance of real-time content data platforms that can draw on diverse data and respond to the latest input from current and potential clients. Salesforce is looking to bring these capabilities to other departments, such as customer service.

Sheryl Kingstone, vice president of customer experience and commerce at S&P Global’s 451 Research technology industry division, said she’s not surprised that Salesforce is working to bring real-time data across its entire lineup.

“I was more shocked that it took so long,” she said.

Since at least 2017, Salesforce executives have been promoting a concept called Customer 360, which involves providing a mosaic of information about each customer for better treatment. The problem was that event data wasn’t getting into the system as it happened. Taylor knows this criticism.

“I’ve heard that feedback before,” he said. Taylor added that with Genie’s “technological breakthrough,” this shouldn’t be a problem in the future.

First Horizon Bank in Memphis, Tennessee, implemented Salesforce’s CDP platform earlier this year. The software helps the bank target new customers and qualify them for mortgages, and is more sensitive to behavior than the manual, batch-processed system First Horizon relied on in the past, said Erin Pryor, the bank’s chief marketing officer. Unlike online ads, which can make some people feel like they’re being watched too closely, Pryor said this level of product targeting is welcome by consumers.

“I don’t think there’s ever been a complaint about your institution knowing you and actually being able to give you content and advice on things that are important to you,” Pryor said.

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