Salesforce, in a surprise announcement late Tuesday, said it has promoted President and COO Keith Block to the role of co-CEO alongside founder and Chairman Marc Benioff. While the timing was surprising, the promotion is not. Mr. Block has been the central figure behind the company’s growing success in selling large cloud software deals to corporate customers. Under his watch, Salesforce’s annual revenue has grown from around $4 billion in 2013 to $10.5 billion in its fiscal 2018, which ended Jan. 31. Mr. Block has said Salesforce aims to generate $23 billion in fiscal 2022.
By adopting a co-CEO structure, Salesforce may feel that it is better equipped to compete with more well-established enterprise market rivals like Oracle, which also has co-CEOs, and SAP, which had co-CEOs from 2010 to 2014. Although Mr. Benioff is insisting that he’s not leaving Salesforce anytime soon, his appointment of Mr. Block is a clear statement of the company’s leadership succession plan.