Salesforce.com’s many acquisitions and the change-the-business-world gospel preached by chief executive Marc Benioff mask a deterioration in the company's much-touted revenue growth, a worrying development for a bellwether firm whose share price has risen steadily for years.
Doubts about Salesforce’s financial performance have been percolating for some time in the halls of the Securities and Exchange Commission and in the offices of a handful of Wall Street research firms. The SEC said in February that it had “completed our review” of the company’s financial filings. Wall Street analysts are examining how the company’s aggressive accounting practices, which are legal but unorthodox, help to obscure the company’s underlying business performance. The company declined to comment for this story.
While most major companies in the sector are more conservative in their accounting than Salesforce and don’t appear to have similar issues, the explosion of cloud-based software services makes it important to understand how the companies can and should be valued.