Marc Benioff Says Salesforce’s Leadership Bench Is Strong Following Co-CEO’s Surprise Exit

Salesforce also appoints Gavin Patterson, who previously led BT Group, as head of Salesforce International.
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After the sudden exit of Keith Block as co-CEO of Salesforce, remaining chief Marc Benioff worked to assure investors that the state of the union is strong.

Shares of Salesforce  (CRM) - Get Report were down 3.18% in premarket trading Wednesday after the company said that Block, who assumed the co-CEO post alongside Benioff in August 2018, was stepping down. The announcement came as a surprise given that many observers of Salesforce viewed him as a successor to Benioff, who co-founded the company 21 years ago.

In its fourth-quarter earnings report, which was released alongside the news of Block’s departure, Salesforce posted better-than-expected revenue and raised its first-quarter sales guidance. It also announced that it acquired Vlocity for $1.33 billion.

On a call with shareholders, Benioff said that Block’s departure would not cause any interruption in the company’s business execution this year. Block will remain as an advisor to Benioff, the company said in a press release.

“When you look at our total management team that Keith and I have built ...I think it is the finest management team in the software industry and maybe any industry,” said Benioff.

He called out several C-suite executives by name, including COO Bret Taylor, CFO Mark Hawkins, Tableau CEO Adam Selipsky and others, citing the “public company” experience among them. Salesforce also appointed Gavin Patterson, who formerly led BT Group, as CEO of Salesforce International.

Benioff also said that the company intends to pause its acquisition streak. 

Salesforce’s acquisition of Tableau last year for $15.7 billion was its largest ever acquisition, and while investors have been generally positive on the deal, it also led to questions on how that and other mega-deals would impact the company’s margins.

Benioff said that the acquisition of Vlocity is a relatively small deal that it “needed to take advantage of,” but that Tableau will be the last of its major acquisitions for awhile.

“We don’t anticipate any major acquisitions in the short term,” he said. 

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