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Salesforce Shift Marks The End Of An Era

Marketing, Discussion, Employee Experience, Newsletter, Work Tech Trends, Work Tech Weekly
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Marketing, Discussion, Employee Experience, Newsletter, Work Tech Trends, Work Tech Weekly


After a decade of shining bright but battered by its environment, the lights on San Francisco’s Bay Bridge went dark this week. If you are looking for a metaphor for these times, there ya go. If metaphor isn’t your jam, here’s the straight news: Salesforce — the brand that defined enterprise software’s spend-big-and-grow-fast ethos in the cheap-money era — has shifted to profitability.

Why it matters: Salesforce’s new tack is the harbinger of a new era in enterprise software. CEO and founder Marc Benioff is clearly following the Oracle playbook to improve profitability and adding Generative AI to the Salesforce market narrative. He’s even channeling his inner Elon Musk in other regards. Case in point: Even after Salesforce laid off 8,000 employees, it reportedly paid Matthew McConaughey $10 million for creative consulting. Optics (and succession planning) be damned, Benioff is going to do whatever it takes to get results … and stay at the helm of the company he founded. This shift is good for shareholders. For employees and Salesforce’s ohana culture? Maybe not so much.

But, as Salesforce goes, so goes enterprise software. If the needle pointed straight at Employee Experience in 2020-21, it’s swinging back toward Shareholder Experience in 2023. It may be an overcorrection, but this will be our world of work for the foreseeable future.

What else is going on this week?

Qualtrics gets $12 billion take-private offer

According to TechCrunch, the company filed an 8-K form with the SEC indicating it has an offer to go private again; the $12.4 billion deal with Silver Lake and the Canadian Pension fund values the company stock at $18.15 per share.

Funding/lack thereof

  • Health and retirement benefits startup Catch calls it quits. A co-founder of the NYC startup said it’s pulling the plug. Expect more headlines like this. (TechCrunch)
  • StudentFinance raises $41 million. The Madrid-based global career mobility platform upskills those wanting to go into disciplines like software development, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence via Income Share Agreements (ISAs). (TechCrunch)
  • Gable raises $16 million venture round. The San Francisco startup helps distributed companies manage office space for their workforce. (FinSMEs)
  • Desana closes $7.4 million seed round. The Edinburgh, Scotland, global hybrid workspace platform offers employers on-demand access to workspace in over 600 cities across more than 60 countries. (FinSMEs)
  • Highway Benefits raises $3.1 million seed round. The LA-area startup provides an employee benefits platform that makes it easy for employers to make tax-free contributions directly to their employees’ student loans. (FinSMEs)
  • HR Signal raises $1.6 million pre-seed round. The Cleveland-based startup helps companies figure out who will quit and why. (TechCrunch)
  • Jobgether raises €1.4 million ($1.48 million U.S.) seed round. The Brussels, Belgium, startup offers a search engine for remote and flexible working. (FinSMEs)

2023 Work Tech B2B Paid Media Benchmark Report

Do you know how effective your marketing budget was? Do you have a competitive strategy for 2023? Do you know where to accelerate or pull back? If not, we’ve got your back — and the data you need.

Industry notes

  • With IPOs frozen, startups need to worry about ticking options clock. (Crunchbase)
  • BFD alert: Biden’s national cyber strategy seeks to hold software firms liable for insecurity. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Bond losses push Silicon Valley Bank to raise capital. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Udemy announces a new Chinese brand name to expand its opportunities in China. (MarketScreener)
  • Startups opt for microcap mergers to tap public markets. (Crunchbase)
  • Earnings: Adecco Group posts strong Q4, FY 2022 growth. Asure Software posts solid Q4, FY 2022 results, ups 2023 guidance.
  • Layoffs: Atlassian (500 employees/5% of workforce), Masterclass (79/ND), Meta (ND/ND), UKG (265/ND).
  • Alight announces closing of secondary stock offering. (Press Release)
  • Report: More than 150k fewer office workers in downtown San Francisco on average per weekday. (SFGate)
  • opens its APAC HQ in Sydney. (TechCrunch)
  • Okta recognizes Udemy Business as one of the fastest-growing apps for orgs with 2,000+ employees. (LinkedIn)
  • Workology launches HR Tech Awards program. (Workology)
  • Zoom abruptly fires its president “without cause.” (Bloomberg)
  • Can ChatGPT build an entire brand? (Marketing Brew)
  • Prompt engineering for Generative AI: the job of the future? (Business Insider)
  • The next-tech metaverse workplaces of tomorrow. (VentureBeat)

Around the shop

Things we’re talking about or find interesting right now.

  • LinkedIn turns 20: An oral history of an unlikely champion. (Fast Company)
  • Headspace at Work research: More people are reporting “The Sunday Scaries.” (LinkedIn)
  • What’s missing from office life may be your work spouse. (Wall Street Journal)

That’s it for this week!


Everybody love everybody,

Steve Smith

Steve Smith

Partner & Chief Marketing Officer

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