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

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  3,507 ratings  ·  185 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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Average rating 3.84  · 
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 ·  3,507 ratings  ·  185 reviews

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Mar 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
There is a big and growing universe of books about company origin stories. See: Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE, Inside Intuit: How the Makers of Quicken Beat Microsoft and Revolutionized an Entire Industry, Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose, Rework, Built from Scratch: How a Couple of Regular Guys Grew The Home Depot from Nothing to $30 Billion, et. al. They all feel like they've been blessed by the same dashingly accessible prose fairy. They are smart. The ...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. ...more
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
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. ...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.
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
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
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
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 ...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 like Amazon: The Everything Store, Steve Jobs biography or even Jack Ma's biography which wasn't stellar either because it lacks the details. ...more
Carl Rannaberg
Mar 17, 2019 rated it liked it
It was interesting book from the viewpoint of seeing behind the curtain of Salesforce history. But wow, the subtle arrogance and bragging of Marc Benioff. It was an effort to get through it. It would be totally okay to stop in the middle of the book as it tells the tales of the Salesforce beginnings and second half of the book is mostly bragging and advice that is largely common sense today or in worst case obsolete.
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.
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
In the world of Apples and Microsofts, we tend to sideline Salesforce- the company that by and large sowed the seed that has germinated into a multi-billion industry called SAAS. The chapter on corporate philanthropy aside, this book illustrates what an entrepreneur’s audacity and conviction can do to a business idea.
Alon Gur-arie
Jan 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
An impressive book about starting startups and about corporate social responsibility
Nicola De Coppi
Jul 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of the #best book I've ever read! It is a must read for Startuppers and entrepreneurs; Benioff explains every step which brought Salesforce from a startup to a 1 Billion Company. #Great! ...more
Simone Cimminelli
A great book

It’s nothing new or particularly bright. But you can consistently perceive the mindset and will power of someone charismatic and inspired
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
Justin Murphy
Jan 23, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: school, 2021
I picked this up after learning Marc Benioff was a millionaire at age 25. I was curious to learn more about his story and Salesforce's history.

While the book offered some insights into Benioff's life it gave great historical context to the SaaS (software as a service) industry. The text was full of Salesforce kool-aid and a few gold nuggets. One of my favorite line being: " was such a good product that users became addicted. They needed it." This is true about every great product.

I would r
Alok Agarwal
Jul 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A simple narrative but highly effective, making sense for those who are not so aware of the latest technologies in the world. A must read for those who want to understand B2B sales with huge number of nuggets of wisdom dispersed throughout the book.

I could really relate with the book and inspired me to implement a cloud based software in my company.
Seth Brady
May 05, 2019 rated it liked it
It was an interesting story, but frankly I was hoping to hear more about what Benioff and his team went through emotionally and financially on their journey to 1B+.

Designed as a series of 100+ playbooks, each covering a different area sequences as the company grows, the lessons were not terribly deep but felt like a more straightforward manual for business success. There are lessons around areas like early startup days crammed in a San Fran rental, sales & marketing guerrilla tactics, partnersh
Ary Chest
Sep 05, 2018 rated it did not like it
Holy hell, this was the blandest book I've consumed in years.

It was just...I did nothing but boost Benioff's ego. This book doesn't even deserve to have the word story in the title, because there was no story, just an eager list of facts. The book's structure isn't even set up to be a narrative. It's just a step by step guide.

Self-help / memoir / business guidebooks usually follow the chronology of the company they are based on. The rise, the takeoff, the success, with bits of wisdom
Ben Pashkoff
More than a little hubris, arrogance and an almost, but not quite condescending tone, but useful tidbits here and there nonetheless. Insights int Oracle (for me at least) were interesting to say the least.
Lanre Dahunsi
Behind the Cloud is a brilliant account of how Marc Benioff revolutionized the software industry and pioneered cloud computing with his company He shares 111 strategies, he used to build the company with the help of very talented individuals and partners.

The 111 Playbook used to build

“Play #1: Allow Yourself Time to Recharge”
“Play #2: Have a Big Dream”
“Play #3: Believe in Yourself
“Play #4: Trust a Select Few with Your Idea and Listen to Their Advice”
“Play #5: Pursu
Chad Rhyner
Nov 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Zhifei Ge
Oct 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: entrepreneurship, it
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
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
Mike Adeleke
Jul 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is easily one of the best books I have read this year and arguably the most practical. In a very unconventional style, the founder and CEO of Salesforce makes this book a step-by-step playbook for how to build a disruptive new company amongst much larger entrenched competitors.

You learn extremely actionable things like how to effectively guerilla market your company and show how you are different than what is currently available. You learn how to expertly deal with press and make everyone
Kalle Wescott
Dec 19, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
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Marc Benioff is chairman, co-CEO, and founder of Salesforce and a pioneer of cloud computing. Benioff was named the Decade’s Top Innovator by Forbes, one of the World’s Greatest Leaders by Fortune, and one of the 10 Best-Performing CEOs by Harvard Business Review. He has won numerous awards for his leadership on equality.

A Fortune 500 company with more than 45,000 employees, Salesforce has been r

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