's Mark Benioff, not being shy

First, an apology for being off-line for so long, but a welcome flood of corporate marketing writing work has kept me heads-down over the ThinkPad. But a recent blast of sheer outrageousness from Marc Benioff of was too much fun to ignore.

It’s been many years since we had the leader of a large IT organization who could build buzz and move markets through sheer force of personality and chutzpa. I remember, in particular, Scott McNealy’s evil jibes at the likes of Microsoft and IBM (though that didn’t keep Sun from sinking into irrelevancy by sticking too long with proprietary hardware and software in an open-source era.)

Steve Jobs is of course brilliant and witty, but he lets his products do the speaking — more to his credit. Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer is, well, eccentric on stage but his products haven’t been doing enough talking lately, especially in the mobile/social/search battlefields that are most critical today.

Which brings us to Benioff, who is a sheer font of conviction, bluster, chutzpa, call it what you will. His latest attention-getting blast is a call for a “corporate spring,” in which downtrodden corporate users (much like the citizens of Egypt, Libya and Syria) will rebel against the evil enterprise software that is taking away their personal freedom and, presumably, torturing them in cellars. They will be freed not by NATO jets and the sacrifice of their peers, but presumably by’s cloud-based customer relationship management software.
I exaggerate, of course, but that’s part of the genius of bold marketing.
Benioff used the analogy to point to what he says is a huge divide between old-style software (one person doing one thing with an application, with sharing of information among users or mobile access a bolt-on) to apps such as Facebook where mobility and social interaction are at the core of the experience.
As reported by ZDnet, he showed pictures of Arab citizens holding up messages  and pointed out “there were no signs that said thank you Microsoft. There were no signs that said thank you IBM. The signs said Facebook.”
He didn’t bother to point out that a lot of the computers running Facebook depend on a Microsoft operating system, or that IBM developed the PC hardware standards that made cheap, affordable PCs (and thus Facebook) possible. And he didn’t point out there were no signs in the streets saying “Thank you” Not much use for all those pesky CRM fields when you’re dodging tear gas, after all.
But like I said, accuracy isn’t the point when you’re doing bold marketing.  Benioff got me, at least, thinking about if there is a huge revolution happening and, if so, what it is, what the “rebels” want and whether the outcome is a good thing. For that, if nothing else, he deserves credit.
Author: Bob Scheier
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I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email or call me at 508 725-7258.

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