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

3.8  ·  Rating details ·  2,074 Ratings  ·  135 Reviews
How did 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, tells how he and his team created and used new business, technology, and philanthropic models tailored to this time of extraordinary change. Sh ...more
Hardcover, 278 pages
Published October 1st 2009 by Wiley-Blackwell (first published 2009)
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Dec 13, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: business, biography
In a former position, I was the main admin for our company's Customer Relationship Management system. We happened to use, 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
Apr 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a fairly simple story about Marc's journey creating his company. I can enjoy a story about how companies develop, what issues are experienced and what was done to get through the tough times. Not every company will experience what Salesforce did, but I like how he inputs advice and strategy throughout the book. It's valid advice because I can relate certain points he makes at my company. There is some bragging going on in it, but I would probably do the same in his position. Benioff is a ...more
Oct 14, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2014
"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.
Aug 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Marc Benioff does an excellent job relaying how an interesting idea can become a transformative tool for millions of professionals. Lots of people like to think that there too many "rich techies" but look at the apps and tools we take for granted today and each company was likely started by someone who took a huge risk to make her/himself successful. The guidance Benioff provides can be a useful template for many of us who are looking to break away from the pack.
Tathagat Varma
Apr 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
A most amazing and candid account of how Marc Benioff painstakingly built Salesforce from a fledgeling to a global internet success. I would strongly recommend this book to every entrepreneur and every person who aspires to be a leader - the book is so full of practical insights that it is like acquiring an MBA in starting up and then scaling up the business.

I especially liked the value-driven focus that seems like a strong undercurrent throughout the book. While it is (relatively) very easy to
Sep 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Saas playbook + pro tips
Ganesh Arulanantham
Jun 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: march-bennioff, saas
If you want to get started on how to build a great SAAS product company anywhere across the globe and make in internationally available this is a great book to start with and follow step by step. I have been part of organisation which grew exponentially. Almost our story is like what Marc Benioff narrated. Go Global.
Yevgeniy Brikman
Apr 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is efectively a bullet point list of "plays" to build a successful company, based on what Marc Benioff did at Salesforce. Initially, I disliked the book (more on that below), but as I read on, I found quite a few good ideas, such as:

* Salesforce's "no software" campaign was brilliant. In an era where buying software meant spending months and millions of dollars to set it up, Salesforce shows up with a Software as a Service (SaaS) model, where you can access the product instantly via th
Sasidhar Yalavarthi
Sep 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a must read book to all those curious minds out there. I laughed so many times whenever Marc talks about his PR tactics. To every entrepreneur out there, don't start your company before reading this. This book offers a lot of perspectives especially 1-1-1 philosophy. It is really great to know what contributing to the society. I will definitely read the book once again. The book is full of guiding principles and practices which anyone can reason and agree with
Jun 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Reading this book felt like listening in on a conversation you weren’t supposed to be included on - it felt unfair and too easy to get advice like that for free. I’m building a sales tech company so this book could not be more relevant. The playbook part especially, it’s incredibly specific and no-bullshit direct.

I’d divide this book into three parts: 1. sales playbook 2. philanthropy 3. international expansion, and for obvious reasons I found the first part to be the most useful. I started high
Thomas Umstattd Jr.
Sep 10, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Oct 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, software
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.
Alon Gur-arie
Jan 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
An impressive book about starting startups and about corporate social responsibility
Apr 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
This is an ok read if you want to learn the story of Salesforce - especially the first part of the book is fascinating. I picked it on recommendation from my manager as an “excellent book” to help in my evolving role at our scale-up. I hold my manager in high regard so I had high hopes for the read as a more practical manual with tips and advice on attracting and retaining customers. I was disappointed.

This is the case of a business book not ageing well, in my opinion. Had this been one of my f
Jun 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Working in the SaaS industry it was interesting for me to get Marc‘s point of view on how he influenced it with his idea of There are many nice anecdotes and sportsmen-ish comments towards competitors.
Contrary to what other reviewer have said I would not say that the tone was arrogant.
As this is also more of a biography it should not be considered as a detailed blueprint for starting your own business. This is also due to the fact that the book is almost 10 years old and many a
cody may
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Though cliche at times, this book will tell you how a company does well while doing good. And in today’s world of fast growing “billon-dollar” companies with no real revenue, Salesforce reminds you how a company should grow and succeed.

In my opinion, the most common cause of start up death is a short-sided, revenue hungry view. Companies put their customers second and seek out tech crunch headlines before whole heartily trying to solve the problem they set out to. Salesforce puts their laurels
Tony Raissian
Dec 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
An intimate look at the journey of from bedroom server to billion dollar company.
My only complaint is how Mark attempts to organize the narrative into a ‘best practices’ book for entrepreneurs. Some of the situations are too unique to be universally applicable, and Mark’s mentors were already tech giants.
The book can also sound like an advertisement at times, as everything is super positive and ends better than expected.
Overall, however, this was an enjoyable and informative persp
May 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
I should have read this book 4 years ago, when I was just starting out in SaaS. Benioff literally and figuratively wrote the SaaS (software as a service- aka cloud-based software- aka the only kind of software anyone makes anymore!) playbook-- which means that this book is essential reading for anyone who works in SaaS or is interested in starting a SaaS business. There is just so much learning wrapped up in this book. For others, aka most of the universe, it will probably be dry and feel very d ...more
Wasim Khan
Dec 29, 2016 rated it it was ok
There are only few basic ideas to take away from this book. The tone's arrogant, the sales ideas while (probably) brilliant won't apply anywhere else. The book is stuffed with things you can hear or read anywhere. A book from the CEO does not even cover the challenges - technical or otherwise - that made the company. It's nowhere around books Amazon: The Everything Store, Steve Jobs biography or even Jack Ma's biography which wasn't stellar either because it lacks the details.
Mar 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Detailed account of 2 Decades of Salesforce. Really liked the Guerrilla marketing tactics adopted by them under their "NO SOFTWARE" mission. This book will definitely tell you how they managed Massive Marketing events in order to drive demand and adoption which ultimately led the industry to validate its cloud model when everyone was skeptical about it.
Jun 20, 2017 rated it liked it
a quick and enjoyable read that feels a little bit too clean and whitewashed. although there is actionable insights and interesting ideas and approaches to HR, talent, company culture etc one feels a lot have been left outside that could have greatly contributed to the contents without adding much to the page count. probably the book is also a tad too old, 2009....
Oct 24, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Its a nice read and a quick one. Kept me interested overall. Some of the concepts though revolutionary back then are so common today would be lovely to understand how and why they came up with them. There are a lot of chest thumping moments. There is hardly any focus on the things that went wrong or growth pains.
Interesting look into the thinking of's founder. Sounds like a very long PowerPoint presentation intended to capture a laundry list of points in a sales offsite. Good for accumulating a variety of industry maxims and jargon that will get you out of a tight spot when you wander into unfamiliar territory.
Rathnakar Sundaresan
Jan 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Behind the Cloud helped me get a clear understanding of the advent of how the SaaS industry flourished. The book is categorized based on different aspects of the company's growth.

If you're in the cloud computing or SaaS business, give this a read!
Adlane Fellah
Mar 23, 2018 rated it liked it
I had great expectations about this book hoping to dive into his technology choices and implementation much deeper. However the author prefers to congratulate himself throughout the book about his marketing strategies. ...
Sudarsan Gp
Oct 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Book organised into playbooks which makes it easier to follow, understand and apply the knowledge gained. Must read for people who want to understand how Software as a Service started. Great insights on strategies and techniques for B2B software.
Fabian Il.
May 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very good book on the creation of and the lessons that were learned. Books like this are worth hundreds of BS business theory books that never saw real world execution.
Denis Smirnov
Jun 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Very useful book with many interesting ideas, especially for those who want to create own business and especially for those who want to create SaaS company.
Abdullah Alharbi
May 15, 2017 rated it liked it
The story of written in 111 short insightful plays.
Feb 04, 2018 rated it liked it
More inspiring than practical, as the tactics aren't applicable to every startup. Certainly some noteworthy advice though. Not at all a linear narrative.
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“One idea alone is a tactic, but if it can be executed a number of different ways, it becomes a great strategy.” 3 likes
“Realize that you won’t be able to bring the same focus to everything in the beginning. There won’t be enough people or enough hours in the day. So focus on the 20 percent that makes 80 percent of the difference.” 2 likes
More quotes…