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

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  1,665 Ratings  ·  113 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
ebook, 304 pages
Published October 29th 2009 by Jossey-Bass (first published 2009)
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(showing 1-30)
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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
Dec 13, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Ganesh Arulanantham
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.
Sasidhar Yalavarthi
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  ·  review of another edition
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.
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
An impressive book about starting startups and about corporate social responsibility
Oct 14, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 20, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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....
Denis Smirnov
Jun 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
The story of written in 111 short insightful plays.
Santhosh Guru
Aug 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Masterclass on marketing and story telling. But the content is nothing unique at this age. Might have been radical ten years ago.
Børge Dvergsdal
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: startups
Must read
Fauzan M
Mar 13, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: work-related
Dropped it < 100 pages !

Too bland. Marc tries to make it both a memoir and a business book and fails to hold a grip on it. Yes, the feats achieved are worth mentioning however putting them as life lessons, spoon feeding the audience, is not the right approach.
What could have been an engaging read about SaaS and its inception ended up being a poorly crafted grandpa-like life lesson class.
Amanda Linehan
Aug 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Amit Jain
Jun 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Ivo Fernandes
Oct 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tech
This book is 7 years old and still so visionary, it's incredible to receive business instructions directly from somebody as successful as Marc Benioff.

This book is a bit similar to the Facebook Effect, both companies manage to get financed without give up much control in their business, even getting enough money from financing rounds before the stock market bubbles pop, they both used open models and created platforms to let ideas spread into their ecosystem.

It's also a book that tries to sprea
Aug 17, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like the layout of this book, with anecdotes supporting the "plays" he recommends. Organizing tips into chapters focused on areas like marketing, finance, philanthropy, leadership, etc was very helpful and you can easily skip around to the aspects of business that most interest you.

While I mostly found the book to be well done with good advice, sometimes I felt the sections didn't always address the headers, like when he said the #1 characteristic you want to hire... and shared two. Or when he
Chad Rhyner
Nov 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Siyoung Oh
Apr 09, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Oct 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mike Adeleke
Jul 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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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“One idea alone is a tactic, but if it can be executed a number of different ways, it becomes a great strategy.” 2 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
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