The two-hour keynote Tuesday afternoon, launching the annual user conference in San Francisco, encapsulated the complementary roles of the two CEOs, with Benioff acting as charismatic emcee before welcoming Block and various other executives onstage to lead demonstrations of how Salesforce's technology is used by businesses. As described by Salesforce in August, the split role has Benioff heading up the company's technology, marketing and culture and Block leading operations and strategy.
Part technology showcase, part motivational talk, Salesforce executives placed the focus on Salesforce's evolving technology suite, with CTO Parker Harris demonstrating new tools like Einstein Voice, which allows Salesforce users to activate apps with their voice, and a dashboard called Customer 360 that helps businesses create unified customer IDs for marketing and sales purposes.
Salesforce executive Tony Prophet demonstrated how the Einstein voice feature cooperates with voice assistants, including Apple's (AAPL) - Get Report Siri and Amazon's (AMZN) - Get Report Alexa, to make it possible for businesses to build voice requests into their customer service system. Prophet described the feature as "device agnostic."
The executives called upon representatives from companies including Marriott International (MAR) - Get Report and Unilever (UL) - Get Report , plus a few small business owners and nonprofits, to help showcase how the Salesforce suite is used by a range of organizations.
Benioff also offered some commentary on the state of the tech industry, namely an eroding sense of trust among big tech firms, their users and their employees. That has manifested in a variety of ways, including criticisms of Facebook's (FB) - Get Report opaque privacy policies and employee protests at companies like Microsoft (MSFT) - Get Report , Amazon and Alphabet (GOOGL) - Get Report over certain government contracts.
Salesforce hasn't been immune to the criticisms, with a group of employees unsuccessfully petitioning Benioff to yank Customs and Border Protection from its cloud services over family separation at the border. Benioff seemed to acknowledge the scrutiny, saying "We're not perfect, we're not always going to get it right."
"Our culture is built on trust," he said, declaring that trust is essential "especially when you see the gambits that are unfolding before us, as we see artificial intelligence unleashed on the world."
Hailing what he described as "inclusive capitalism," he also took time to effusively praise Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, with whom Salesforce recently forged a partnership to incorporate Siri and other Apple products with Salesforce's apps.
"Thank you, Tim Cook. Thank you for fighting for gender equality. Thank you for fighting for equality and love in our industry. You are somebody in our industry we all can follow," Benioff said.
Salesforce's stock was climbing 0.65% in after-hours trading Tuesday.
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