Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff has never been shy about sharing his true feelings on rival Microsoft, just recently calling the company a “disaster” and suggesting that Bill Gates should return to the company and fire some people.
Now, Benioff, who over the past five years has grown Salesforce.com’s value by more than 600 percent, is back in the Microsoft bashing business.
Speaking at the company’s Salesforce 1 World Tour in New York City this week, Benioff said that Microsoft’s ability to compete in recent years has been “limited” and noted that the board’s decision about Steve Ballmer was a good one, but “probably five years too late.”
The comments, reported this week by VentureBeat, are harsh, especially for a guy who says that Bill Gates is his personal role model. But they are also offered with a constructive bent.
Here are some of the extended remarks:
I think Bill Gates is amazing; he’s my role model. He saved ten million lives in the last decade. It’s amazing. And if you look at Bill Gates, he’s happy, he’s joyful, he’s relaxed, he’s having a good time — and while he was at Microsoft, he was miserable and kind of a curmudgeon.
But while Bill Gates has evolved, Microsoft has not. They need to push the reset button on vision. The whole concept of Windows everywhere was a really interesting mantra 20 years ago, but it doesn’t work today, and it’s led them down some very dark paths to products that are not any good. Number two, they need to push the reset button on people. So they’ve started with Ballmer, but they have an issue that they’re going to have to address: they’ve got two former CEOs on the board. I think it’s hard for the CEO coming in with two CEOs looking over their shoulder, so I think they’re going to have to address that. They have really unbelievable assets that every company in the world wishes they had — in brand, market position, technology, and monopoly — but they can’t execute it.”
Later, when asked about Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM product, a competitive offering to Salesforce.com, Benioff noted that Microsoft was a “follower, not a leader.”
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the existence of both Ballmer and Gates on the board of Microsoft has led some potential CEO candidates to question just how much autonomy they could wield.
Back in September, Benioff stressed that Gates should return to the helm of Microsoft, even if just for a short spell, to set the “reset button” on some of his legacy business processes and also purge a number of managers and execs.