Bret Taylor steps down as co-CEO of Salesforce, leaving Marc Benioff alone at the helm

Bret Taylor steps down as co-CEO of Salesforce, leaving Marc Benioff alone at the helm

Bret Taylor, co-CEO of Salesforce.com Inc., right, and Marc Benioff, co-CEO of Salesforce.com Inc., wear bunny ears while speaking at the Dreamforce 2022 conference in San Francisco , Calif. on Tuesday, September 20, 2022.

Marlena Sloss | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Selling power said Wednesday that Bret Taylor will step down as co-CEO on Jan. 31, leaving Marc Benioff once again alone at the helm of the cloud software company he co-founded in 1999.

Benioff had closely embraced Taylor, who joined the company in 2016, when he sold his productivity software startup Quip to Salesforce. Taylor played a key role in Salesforce acquiring Slack for $27.1 billion, its largest deal ever.

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Before that, Taylor sold FriendFeed to Facebook’s parent Meta and helped create Google Maps. Taylor played a key role in Salesforce’s bid to acquire Slack for $27.1 billion, its largest deal to date. Many onlookers saw Taylor as the person who could one day succeed Benioff as head of Salesforce.

Exactly a year ago, Salesforce promoted Taylor from his positions as president and chief operating officer to co-CEO alongside Benioff. At that time, Benioff described Taylor as “a phenomenal industry leader who has helped create incredible success for our customers and spurred innovation across our company.”

Just two months ago, Benioff and Taylor were talking onstage together at Salesforce’s Dreamforce client conference in San Francisco. The duo each wore bunny ears, a reference to the Genie service bunny mascot that Salesforce was introducing at the time.

The announcement comes nearly three years after Keith Block, a Oracle executive, left as co-CEO of the company. In February 2020, Keith Block stepped down as co-CEO. Block had been the company’s chief operating officer before being promoted in 2018.

“I am grateful for six fantastic years at Salesforce,” Taylor said in a statement. “Marc was my mentor long before I joined Salesforce and the opportunity to partner with him to lead the world’s largest software company is career-defining. After much consideration, I have decided to return to my Entrepreneurial Roots Salesforce has never been more relevant to customers, and with its top-notch leadership team and the company working on all cylinders, now is a good time for me to step down. “

It’s been a busy year for Taylor, as he was chairman of Twitter before Elon Musk’s acquisition of the social media company, a deal struck last month. In a September interview, Taylor said the deal “doesn’t come up a lot” in meetings with Salesforce customers. Taylor hasn’t tweeted since October 26.

Benioff told CNBC he likes the idea of ​​someone sharing the role of CEO so he can have a “divisive and conquer strategy” and can spend time investing, making philanthropy and mentoring other business leaders.

Taylor received total compensation of $22.8 million in fiscal 2022, mostly through stock awards, according to the company’s most recent proxy filing. That’s up from $13.9 million the previous year. The median salary for a Salesforce employee over the past year was $181,612, according to the filing.

As of January 31, Taylor had approximately $80 million in unvested stock units. Most of it came from the limited stock it received when Salesforce purchased Quip. These restricted shares “vest in equal quarterly installments through August 2023 subject to Mr. Taylor’s continued employment with the company,” the proxy filing said.

Also on Wednesday, Salesforce reported better-than-expected fiscal third-quarter results. But the company’s shares fell 6% in after-hours trading following the two announcements.

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