After investing $28B in Slack, Salesforce bets on one of its own as new CEO
A conversation with Lidiane Jones about Slack’s future
In a flurry of activity at the end of last year, Salesforce announced that co-CEO Bret Taylor was stepping down. Shortly thereafter, Slack co-founder and CEO Stewart Butterfield announced his exit. We would soon learn that his replacement would be Lidiane Jones, who at the time was GM of Commerce Cloud, Marketing Cloud and Experience Cloud at Salesforce.
While Jones was running essentially the entire B2C business with that title, she was relatively unknown in the industry. Yet she brought with her a deep background that included more than a dozen years at Microsoft and almost four years at Sonos, all of which helped her build a keen understanding of software and product development.
To be sure, she was walking into a difficult situation replacing a beloved founder-CEO, while trying to find ways to bridge the gap between Salesforce and Slack. At the same time those executives were leaving, Salesforce as a company was dealing with a slew of activist investors. One of their primary complaints was a lack of integration between the core Salesforce products and the company’s expensive acquisitions over the last several years.
Of those, Slack was by far the most expensive at a whopping $28 billion. The hope was to bring the platform into the fold and have it be the communications layer across the entire Salesforce family of products. Salesforce has to this point done some integrations between the two platforms but not enough to satisfy critics.
At the same time, Jones still must protect the independence of Slack because it can’t be perceived as being so tightly integrated into Salesforce that it can’t operate outside of the ecosystem.
Nobody claimed the job was going to be easy.
TechCrunch+ sat down with Jones recently at the Salesforce offices in Boston to discuss how her transition is going so far and what challenges she faces as she dives into job.
Not long before Jones took over as CEO, The Information ran an expose suggesting that the relationship between the two companies was damaged. The report also stated that Marc Benioff and Butterfield butted heads, the deal was Taylor’s baby, and with Taylor and Butterfield gone, Benioff was less interested in it, a point that Jones disputes now.