Salesforce.com has developed a truly intriguing concept with the Incubator. I wanted to get a bit of background on the history of the project before we delved into how its working.
SM: I am going to focus our discussion primarily on the Incubator, however feel free to include experiences from the broader AppExchange. What was the thinking behind the Incubator launch, and what led up to the development? RB: One of the very important things that SalesForce.com stands for is success. It is an important word and value and SalesForce. We believe our primary mission in life is to make customers and partners happy with our products and our services.
We also believe there is a lot of disruption which needs to happen in the market. We introduced a very disruptive technology model, and a very disruptive business model. Many companies have modeled themselves after it, and are essentially saying: “We want to be just like you. We want to become a big company in the on-demand space. We want to do that using the same principles and the same go-to-market strategies.” And so forth.
It is one thing to help from a distance … tell people they can look at you and copy you, but if you really take their success seriously, you just open things up; “If you want to do what we did, then come sit with me. Come join me in my facilities and learn the technology, marketing and sales elements from me. Learn my business from me. ”. The ultimate commitment we could make to help a partner be successful is to provide them with everything they need. That is a different approach than what any other software company has taken. With others, you become part of a partner community, you get a kit, you get a product, now go knock yourself out. That model has proven to be slow. It takes a long time to understand technology. It takes an even longer time to build a product and effectively market it to customers.
SM: How is your approach received? RB: We have gone through a great growing spurt. We have grown from nothing to the fastest-growing software company our size. We have become a machine that has been able to crank out a lot of successful customers, a great subscription business, and great technology. We want other companies to become just like us. The incubator was born in this belief that if we let companies grow up with us, we could effectively spawn a very large ecosystem around SalesForce.com. These companies would be successful in their own right and they would also grow the pie for on-demand and for SalesForce.com.