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Behind the Cloud: The Untold Story of How Salesforce.com Went from Idea to Billion-Dollar Company-And Revolutionized an Industry
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Behind the Cloud: The Untold Story of How Salesforce.com Went from Idea to Billion-Dollar Company-And Revolutionized an Industry

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  696 ratings  ·  68 reviews
How did salesforce.com grow from a start up in a rented apartment into the world's fastest growing software company in less than a decade? For the first time, Marc Benioff, the visionary founder, chairman and CEO of salesforce.com, tells how he and his team created and used new business, technology, and philanthropic models tailored to this time of extraordinary change. Sh ...more
ebook, 256 pages
Published October 29th 2009 by Jossey-Bass (first published 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,598)
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Thomas Umstattd
Good but not great. If would read Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose and The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That is Connecting the World and Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur first. This book read a bit like a long sales letter with the author not going into much detail about their mistakes. I feel the book would have been better if it had been written after the author was no longer the CEO of Salesforce. That said I am much ...more
Aaron
In a former position, I was the main admin for our company's Customer Relationship Management system. We happened to use salesforce.com, and, while at an event for them, they gave each attendee a free copy of this book.

For the most part, this is a big pat on the back for the author, Marc Benioff. Obviously, they're a billion-dollar company in just 10 years or so, so there haven't been too many lows to touch on. And, those that are mentioned are "brilliantly" dealt with by Benioff and his hand-pi
...more
Joe
A very interesting book that gives a lot of insights to those founding businesses in disruptive areas or looking to compete with much larger players.

Perhaps of less use to people running established businesses in mature markets, or perhaps that is just an excuse.

The book was very easy to read. I learned about Marc because he is a big fan of Tony Robbins and I was disappointed that Tony didn't even get a mention that I could see. I would like to have heard more about how Marc personally overcame
...more
Sarah
I thought this book was really good! It was a super easy read and I found Marc to be clear, honest and extremely inspiring. At the end I wanted to start my own start-up! The success of SFDC and the SaaS industry is amazing and it was great to read a brief version of how it all happened.
Derek
"Arrogant" is the best 1-word summary I could come up with. He's quick to take credit for himself and even quicker to criticize other companies. The tone was a turnoff.
Alon Gur-arie
An impressive book about starting startups and about corporate social responsibility
,
E
Insider’s guide to how Salesforce became successful

Salesforce redefined customer relationship management (CRM) applications – and the entire enterprise application industry – for the 21st century. The forward-looking company provides businesses with software in a remarkably efficient manner: online, “without the complexities of installation, maintenance and constant upgrades.” In this book, Salesforce founder and CEO Marc Benioff and journalist Carlye Adler tell the absorbing, often quirky, Sale
...more
Amanda Linehan
You know what? I wasn't expecting much from this book, because I got it for free at the Boston-area SaleForce expo earlier this summer, and I thought "sure, the CEO gives away copies of his book, they must really want to upsell me on their product and the book is going to suck." In fact, it was way better than expected.

It talks about not just how SalesForce as a company got started, which is interesting from a business standpoint, but the evolution of cloud computing as a concept. Though I under
...more
Amit Jain
In the age when everyone celebrates the ingenious of Larry Page/ Sergey Brin or Steve Jobs or Jeff bozos and the impact their organizations are having on our life, it's will not unusual not to know about Marc Benioff and the way his organization changed the way software is being used today !!! Probably enterprise software has always been less glamorous ..But it's SAAS or cloud computing more than google / amazon / apple initial innovations which is changing the way computing happens today ....so ...more
Bashar
I was looking forward to this book. The book is written by the co-founder, and tells their journey and vision, how he started his career, and why he thought of this cloud computing. The interesting thing is, this was totally new, and he was the first to think of SaaS (Software as a Service) to replace traditional CRM and enterprise softwares that always seem struggling for an upgrade and maintenance.

Having said that, the book seemed to fall short to make you hold your breath. You get a feeling o
...more
Greg Hills
Broken up into into 100+ 1-3 page sections, very readable. Nice to get some historical context on what is was like before SaaS was the default. Lots of detail on:

- marketing
- recruiting
- sales process
- company scaling
- international expansion
- customer focus

Brief bits on

- financing
- going public
- underlying technology
- 1/1/1 approach to corporate philanthropy
- mission statements, organizational objectives

Andrew Wright
Not surprisingly, the book exudes a self-congratulatory tone that was nauseating at times. The bulk of the content consists of purported rules, though many are mostly shallow takeaways from particular episodes in SFDC's history that did not strike me as widely applicable. That said, the book is an easy read, generally entertaining, and SalesForce certainly has been a success story to this point.
Russell R Miller
covers the main points in a corporate growth straegy

Energy, innovation, enthusiasm are hallmarks of this company and its founder Marc Benioff. It's hard not to be infected by his enthusiasm while reading at times very specific points that need to be grasped well to build a large company. lots of good guidelines and details.
Chad Rhyner
Behind the Cloud is a great book to understand more about how things are run at an executive level. Marc Benioff displays his style and attitude in the book, too. While I appreciate the honesty and rawness of his thoughts, he sounds to me like a rich, spoiled brat, and if given the opportunity, you could not pay me to even have dinner with him. He seems to have had such a great life for such a long time, that his whines and complaints in the book are reserved only for aristocracies.

The organizat
...more
Siyoung Oh
I respect Benioff by a great amount. He started a brand new business from a small room and made that company to a multi-billion dollar company. This book is sharing how that happened from his own view. However, I don't think this book is great. Benioff tries to give us 111 principles that he kept. These principles cover how he could lead the company in a broad range. Ironically, as he tries to say too much, the book becomes too shallow. He introduces many episodes but without much conflict every ...more
Zhifei Ge
The book is about a marketing genius who has a good idea in cloud computing and how he builds his billion dollar company from scratch. Throughout the book, Marc Benioff listed 111 points about entrepreneurship, covering from financing, human resources, marketing, visions etc.

The most impressive part is on marketing, especially on how Salesforce won competitions during startup phase, when SaaS had not been accepted by customers yet. There are several dirty but legal strategies Salesforce has ado
...more
Joseph Raffetto
This is worth a read. A brilliant idea meets excellent execution meets perfect timing. And it's always interesting how many successful companies have that moment where they might go under.
Kalle Wescott
I had very low expectations for the book, expecting it to be "sales-y", or in this case "salesforce-y", and while it did indeed exhibit those characteristics, it was 10 times better than my low expectations.

It even referenced Christensen's /The Innovator's Dilemma/ and Carr's /The Big Switch/.

I loved the historical and biographical part of the book with the history of the origins of Salesforce.

My favorite play, of the 111 in the book, was Play #25: Make your Own Metaphors, with Marc's first two
...more
Neil
Great book - really inspiring story of org, structure, disrupting norms, and great marketing
Nic Brisbourne
This is a great book for anyone involved with a software as a service startup (and pretty good for people involved with startups generally). Marc Benioff has built probably the most successful software startup in the last 10-15 years and this book is a well thought out list of all the things that made Salesforce.com successful.

There are many, many things in here, and it is a book I expect to return to regularly, but if I was to highlight one thing it would be the benefits which accrue to startup
...more
Jacob
If you are interested in how Salesforce (or a successful company) came to be then read this book. It is written in a unusual, but very good, style of making 111 points about how Benioff and his team created and grew Salesforce. The focus he showed through the creation of the firm is impressive. That being said I don't see why Benioff's 'system' for creating and growing his company is necessarily a recipe that will work for others or what differentiates the theory from so many other theories abou ...more
Franco Arda
Kudos for taking the time off and making us sharing his experience through this great book.

Marc had the vision of the end of software and created [...] Independent of his personal philosophy of money and the amount of money he had when he started, his personal investment of $6m makes in his ideas makes him an exceptional visionary (and probably risk taker).

The book is well written without bragging. Sometimes a bit dogmatic (strong opinions that seem like facts), but that's fine for a visionary e
...more
Phil Simon
There are certainly some good tips in here about building a company but, as other reviewers have pointed out, the tips' format gets a little tiring. I do like how Benioff admits some mistakes and is on occasion surprisingly candid. This is a well-written book I would have preferred some more in-depth stories rather than a series of management platitudes. Also, Benioff is right about the disruption that his company has caused--and about the naysayers back in the day.

In sum, this is a good but no
...more
Nicholas Moryl
Another business book that could probably be compressed into a long article. Formatted to presented 111 "Plays", which are sometime contradictory or meaningless (paraphrasing, "Do this! Except when it's not prudent--which you'll have to assess with your own judgment."), it's written in an easily-digestible format but is ultimately unsatisfying.

The most interesting parts of the book are the stories about Salesforce.com's history. The business advice--as with all advice--should be taken with a gr
...more
Marci Bosse
Favorite play: 16 - Party with a Purpose. A budget of $600K for a party in 2000 celebrating a company with little revenue. Those were the good o'days!
Richard
An interesting, easy romp through the play-book of this pioneer software-as-a-service business and CRM behemoth. Benioff writes in an engaging and only slightly smug fashion, reeling off a numbered list of business lessons for us mortals.

Most of it's fairly obvious stuff, but there's plenty of good points reinforced and a few twists. The emphasis on selling and market/brand development makes this a must-read for the Sales Team and aspiring web entrepreneurs alike.
Bogdan
A great startup guide by function (written for the 10th anniversary of Salesforce.com) with good advice about growing, hiring, IPOs, technology, vision building and cascading into a growing organisation.
Enea Minuti
Interesting read for folks interested in b2b marketing and sales dynamics
Matias Sulzberger
It is not a theoretical book. It doesn't present a new theory. Nevertheless it is a VERY interesting book for entrepreneurs. You'll get very useful tips that you can apply right away. It contains a playbook for finance, technology, marketing and more, but the most surprising one is the philanthropic playbook. I have no idea how deep CSR is in salesforce.com's core.
Loved the short and useful "plays" structure of the book, very innovative.
Jeff


First-half was excellent. Some takeaways:

*The number one mistake entrepreneurs make is they hold their ideas too closely to their chest."

* He who is quick-tempered can be insulted.

* The secret to encouraging creativity and producing he best possible product is to keep people fulfilled and happy.

* Out of clutter find simplicity. From discord find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.
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