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Marc Benioff. Photo by Bloomberg.

Benioff Discovers Efficiency (and Profits)

Photo: Marc Benioff. Photo by Bloomberg.

Some people are easily pleased. Salesforce stock jumped 15% in after-hours trading after the enterprise software firm reported fourth-quarter results that were a little better than it had projected. Free cash flow was solid. And Salesforce announced it was doubling its stock buyback program. Wall Street will enjoy those goodies—and the sycophants who pass for analysts showered praise on management for what the company was announcing. But it has to be said that comments from Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and his lieutenants on the call revealed some alarming things about how they’ve been managing Salesforce until now.

For instance, it was a little stunning to hear Benioff declare, without embarrassment, that “we've never had an efficiency focus in the company before.” Salesforce president Brian Millham noted, apparently without irony, that “a big component of our growth strategy going forward” will be improving productivity. It seems it’s not only Meta Platforms CEO Mark Zuckerberg who has only now discovered the concept of running a company efficiently. “Improving profitability is our highest priority,” Benioff declared. Salesforce’s board has even disbanded its M&A committee, he said, symbolizing how much he has moved away from his focus on acquisitions to drive growth. 

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