Book Review: Behind the Cloud

Behind the Cloud is the tale of how Marc Benioff‘s Salesforce introduced the Software-as-a-service model after the dot com crash. Part story and part playbook, he recounts the basic ideas and strategies that enabled him to create and legitimize and entirely new market for software applications.

Starting from his initial ideas behind a multi-tenant Software-as-a-Service Customer Relationship Management software, he talks through how he vetted the idea with friends, got customer feedback, and began promoting the company.


The book is divided into specific sections, with specific sub-topics of interest in each.

  1. Startup: Taking an idea from initial inspiration through to take-off
  2. Marketing: Creating a clear voice and personality for the company and positioning against competitors
  3. Events: Benioff used a series of spectacular events and renegade tactics to hijack his competitor’s events
  4. Sales: A breakdown of various sales channels and tactics, and how to keep existing customers buying more product.
  5. Technology: How to create things that your customers really love
  6. Corporate Philanthropy: Maybe not for everyone, but Salesforce has a charitable mission at it’s core where it donates a percentage of profits and employee time to philanthropic organizations.
  7. Global Markets: How to scale a great business idea beyond your locality
  8. Finance: Raising capital and making sure everyone gets a return without compromising integrity
  9. Leadership: A management playbook for a successful company – How to create processes to manage and monitor a scaled, post product/market fit company.

Overall it was enjoyable, it reads like Salesforce happened to be in the right place at the right time with the right people, but it’s interesting to see a company that started from an idea, found their product-market fit, and then scaled successfully without losing the founder at the helm.

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