NEW YORK (TheStreet) --Cloud-based sales software startup, InsideSales.com has hired Jim Steele, former chief customer officer of sales automation giant, Salesforce.com (CRM) , further cementing the ties between the two companies.
Steele joins InsideSales as president of worldwide sales and chief customer officer, in charge of accelerating the company's sales growth as well as overseeing customer service, implementation and account management. The new hire suggests a broader reach for the Utah-based InsideSales, and raises questions about Salesforce's interest in the startup.
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Salesforce was an investor in InsideSales' $100 million funding round valuing the business at $1 billion this April, and is a Salesforce App Exchange Program Partner. Salesforce would thus stand to gain handsomely from InsideSales' growth, whether by making use of or partnering on new technologies or, as some speculate, by helping to bolster its value for an initial public offering.
InsideSales is mum about a potential IPO, preferring to say it will evaluate the opportunity based on "market conditions." But it's clear the two companies share plenty of common DNA. As Steele himself says:
"The partnership between InsideSales and Salesforce is strong and the parallels for market impact are striking...I also see a lot of similarities between Marc Benioff and InsideSales CEO Dave Elkington: big thinkers who are unsatisfied with the status quo with a lot of passion, drive, and charisma."
InsideSales is part of a growing trend favoring use of predictive analytics and aggregated data, better known as "big data," to help guide company processes and decision making. The company's proprietary predictive analytics technology is designed to help companies' sales organizations refine their processes, make better decisions and improve sales.
Through its investment in InsideSales, Salesforce may be capitalizing on this rapidly emerging technology and market opportunity and helping to thwart competition from other data-science driven upstarts.
The broader tech industry establishment has also been strongly supportive of the startup's prospects. Top executives from other major technology players have been flocking to the company; former Citrix (CTXS) Chief Marketing Officer Mike Hollison, and Todd Riesterer, formerly of VMWare (VMW) and McAfee, have joined the ranks of InsideSales this year. Jim Steele's appointment comes amid record growth, as the company increased both revenue and its customer base by 100% year over year.
"Jim Steele is one of the most strategic and widely-admired sales executives in the technology industry today, and his experience will be invaluable, especially as we usher in the next phase of our company's expansion into global enterprise markets," says Dave Elkington, InsideSales.com CEO and founder.
Steele brings over 30 years of software sales experience to InsideSales, and was part of the leadership team that accelerated Salesforce's growth from $25 million to over $4 billion in revenue during his tenure. His appointment is expected to lend greater visibility to InsideSales at a critical period in its expansion strategy. Already, the company counts on names such as Marketo (MKTO) , Microsoft (MSFT) and ADP (ADP) as customers, and is making a push to expand further globally.