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Navigating a New Chapter: Salesforce’s CEO and COO Discuss Strategy, Culture, and Growth

Amidst changing tides and investor scrutiny, Salesforce, the global software giant, is gearing up for its next phase of growth with significant internal reshuffling. A major beneficiary of this shakeup is President and COO Brian Millham, who’s set to take on more responsibility, signaling a potential succession plan for CEO Marc Benioff.

Over the last year and a half, Salesforce has faced its share of turbulence. Investor activism, sweeping job cuts, and executive exits have marked a challenging period. However, recent earnings reports suggest a rebound with the company inching closer to its 30% margin target.

As part of this transition, we spoke to CEO Marc Benioff and COO Brian Millham about the new direction for Salesforce, the changing roles within the company, and their expectations for the future.

Marc Benioff began by expressing his excitement for Brian Millham’s new role. After 24 years with Salesforce and being its 13th employee, Millham’s journey with the company has been exceptional. His new role is set to extend his leadership across sales, service, marketing, human resources, and business technology, overseeing nearly 70% of Salesforce’s workforce.

Benioff was quick to deflect any question of Millham stepping into a co-CEO role, emphasizing the importance of gradual progression in leadership. He lauded Millham as his long-standing and loyal partner, sharing his anticipation for what the new role might bring.

Brian Millham echoed Benioff’s enthusiasm, expressing excitement about product innovation and the chance to become more engaged with the company’s culture or ‘Ohana’. He highlighted the importance of focusing on people, with culture being the superpower of Salesforce.

In the wake of recent layoffs, Millham acknowledged the need to invest more in culture. But he also stressed the reinvigoration happening within the company, as demonstrated by strong Q4 and Q1 results, as well as the return of several ex-employees, including Ariel Kelman as CMO, Miguel Milano as Chief Revenue Officer, and Kendall Collins as Chief of Staff. This return of former employees is seen as a symbol of the company’s revival and new structure.

When asked about the prospect of another co-CEO, given that Salesforce has had two previously, both of whom have left, Benioff drew attention to his long-standing business relationship with Millham. He highlighted the unique understanding they share, born out of their two-decade-long partnership.

In response to how his approach will differ from predecessors, Millham emphasized his extensive experience within the company. Having worked closely with Benioff and the company culture for 24 years, he felt well-prepared to steer Salesforce’s future growth.

The recent developments at Salesforce provide a fascinating glimpse into the strategic maneuvers of a software titan. As Marc Benioff and Brian Millham navigate this new chapter, the business community will be closely watching to see how their long-standing partnership shapes Salesforce’s future.