Behind the Cloud Book Summary By Marc R. Benioff and Carlye Adler

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Behind the Cloud (2009) dives into Marc Benioff's incredible story of taking an underfunded start-up in a one-room apartment and turning it into one of the world's most successful companies,

As he overcame personal financial problems and navigated his way through the dot-com bubble burst of the early 2000s, Benioff applied innovative thinking and even unconventional methods to steer to success.

This engaging profile provides incredible insights from a seasoned business leader, and is essential reading for any aspiring organizational leaders or entrepreneurs looking for direction on their journey to success.

Behind the Cloud

Book Name: Behind the Cloud (The Untold Story of How Went from Idea to Billion-Dollar Company and Revolutionized an Industry)

Author(s): Marc R. Benioff and Carlye Adler

Rating: 4.2/5

Reading Time: 17 Minutes

Categories: Entrepreneurship

Author Bio

The author of Behind the Cloud, Marc Benioff, is a well-known business leader who has held influential positions in various notable companies.

He's the co-founder and CEO of, he sits on the board of Cisco Systems, and he's written three books on the subject of business.

But that's not all; he's also devoted to philanthropy, with hundreds of millions donated to different causes.

With such credentials, it's easy to see why Marc Benioff is an acclaimed author whose words have been taken as wisdom by many readers around the world.

His insight can be invaluable for anyone looking for advice on how to make their own businesses successful!

How To Succeed In Business With Salesforce.Com: Innovate, Differentiate, And Become Big In Japan

Business With Salesforce.Com

The success of, a multi-billion-dollar powerhouse, proves that it is possible to turn your business into a multi-million-dollar company and even change an entire industry.

This doesn’t happen overnight though; you need to believe in your idea, have the courage to go your own way even when venture capitalists give you the cold shoulder, and clearly differentiate yourself from your competitors.

You also need to put the customer at the center of your business model and not be afraid to take on big players in the industry.

This is what did!

They put an end to the software era and succeeded in becoming big in Japan.

By following these steps and learning from Salesforce’s example, you too can create a multi-million dollar business that changes an entire industry!

The Power Of Having Vision: How Marc Benioff Turned An Idea Into A Global Software Company

If you want to build a fast-growing company, Marc Benioff’s advice is simple: stick to your idea and think big.

Don’t be daunted by potentially huge projects – if you’ve got a great idea, pursue it!

Benoff’s journey started when he noticed there was potential in the existing software from CRM company Siebel Systems but also knew it had some flaws.

He thought he could significantly improve the software using his own “Software-as-a-Service” approach through cloud computing technology -– an idea that wasn’t well received by Siebel Systems’ founder Tom Siebel at first.

But instead of backing down and giving up on his vision, Benioff stuck with the concept and decided to go it alone.

He went all out in marketing his dream as “the end of software business and technology models” in order to attract the best engineers to work for him.

And soon enough, he found himself growing and needing a much larger office space than the one bedroom apartment he started out with.

The take away? If you have an idea that excites you, follow through on it – no matter how intimidating your project is and no matter how small or large scale it may be.

Think big and don’t let anyone talk you down from achieving your goals!

Using Unique Branding And Aggressive Tactics: How Salesforce


Marc Benioff, the founder of Salesforce, knew he had to use aggressive marketing for his company to stand out from the competition.

Right away, he set out to publicize Salesforce in the press and pushed the idea that it was different from other companies with its “end of software” era concept.

To capture people’s attention and make sure they remembered, Bruce Campbell created a memorable logo – one with a circle over the word “software” signifying no software – which won awards.

However, it wasn’t enough to just stand out among competitors – Benioff realized they would have to go on the offensive against big players.

So he orchestrated a stunt: actors were positioned outside a Siebel User Group meeting with signs saying ‘no software’, telling every visitor about an upcoming party thrown by and it was met with great media response as everyone loves a good David vs Goliath story.

It’s clear that if you want your product or service to take off like Salesforce did, you must be prepared to advertise it aggressively from the beginning in order for people to recognize your brand and spread awareness about your product.

Salesforce.Com Utilizes Events And Cocktail Parties To Drive Sales And Gain Interest knew that in order to maximize the viral effect of their product, they needed to use public events wisely.

To achieve this, they created the City Tours – a series of events which brought together potential customers, journalists and analysts to discuss their experiences with’s service.

Not only were these events a great way to close deals with new prospects, but they also helped garner media attention.

By using posters featuring real customers at their events, was able to showcase the success stories of their users and really demonstrate the value of their service.

To save costs on larger scale events, came up with an idea: instead of organizing the usual full day event, why not just host after parties with cocktails? And they did just that – they organized smaller scale events in New York with only 11 customers and prospects at a fraction of the cost, and achieved nearly the same result as a full day event!

How Salesforce.Com Used Customer Feedback To Survive The Dot-Com Bubble Burst

Customer Feedback

At the heart of successful business is putting the customer first., a company that deals in enterprise software from the 90s, revolutionized this concept by recognizing that potential customers wanted to try it out before signing anything.

Instead of going through months’ worth of expensive negotiations and presentations as needed in the past, they allowed for free trials over the internet – something we take for granted today but was pretty revolutionary back then.

Their pricing strategy also helped – offering their software at just $50 per month allowed customers to invest with minimal risk.

Taking things even further, Salesforce.Com created a mini-database where clients could submit ideas and report bugs, a practice unheard of at the time that gave customers constant feedback on how their product was faring and how it could be improved.

When tough times arrived during the dot-com bubble burst in 2001 and many companies tried to leave Salesforce, they turned to their customers instead by converting their payments into annual plans – 50 percent of which agreed immediately – thus allowing them to turn things around without losing too many of their clients.

They only managed to do so before because they had gained those same customers’ trust long beforehand due to their customer-centric approach from Day One.

This goes to show that if you want your business to succeed you’ve got to make sure your customers are kept satisfied – after all, loyal customers are essential for any business’ success in the long run!

Salesforce.Com Revolutionizes Software Development With Multitenancy And Open Source Code

When it comes to developing software, the team behind had a smart idea: focus on one really great product at a time, then move onto the next one.

This approach was essential for them to be able to make sure their code was fast and simple – two things that were musts for success in their line of work.

Rather than spread themselves thin by launching several products at once, they created core principles for the system and wrote code accordingly.

The result? A 99.9 percent uptime with over 200 million transactions daily in just the first quarter of 2009!

By allowing external developers access to their product code, opened up yet another avenue of extra development, which contributed to its success.

Companies such as the Schumacher Group were able to capitalize on this feature and used it for over 90 percent of their operational programs.

Salesforce.Com Ramps Up International Presence Through Unique Strategies

Unique Strategies

If your business is looking to expand into different countries, it’s important to consider the cultural differences that exist between them. did just this – they chose Dublin, Ireland as their headquarters because of its English-speaking population and favorable tax rate, and hired native speakers from different countries to make customers feel like they’re talking directly with people in their own country.

The company also tailored their marketing strategy for different markets – for example, for Japan, strategically incorporated references to other growing companies (like Google and Amazon) with which the Japanese were familiar in order to build trust in their product.

It worked – after Canon and Japan Post began using, many more followed suit.

It’s clear that if you want your business to be internationally competitive, you need to take into account the beliefs and values of each country you want to enter – including aspects such as language or cultural familiarity – in order to build a successful presence there.

From Venture Capital Rejects To Ipo Success: The Incredible Journey Of Salesforce

In Behind the Cloud, it’s easy to see that when it comes to capital and finance, you should not only think outside the box – but also be sensible.

Marc Benioff provided a perfect example of this for budding entrepreneurs.

Benioff originally sought out venture capitalists, but no one was enthused by Salesforce’s “no software” model.

Instead of giving up, Benjamin reminded himself of all other companies like Starbucks and Cisco that got turned down too – and he went to those who believed in him: his family and friends.

He managed to raise $65 million within five fundraising round between 1999 and 2002 without venture capital.

On top of this, Benioff focused on raising revenue in order to expand Salesforce rather than chasing profitability.

Thanks to their audit before going public in 2003, they managed to increase their annual revenue from $25 million to $100 million – more than twice as much as other companies had achieved!

Wrap Up

In the end, Behind the Cloud: The Untold Story of How Went from Idea to Billion-Dollar Company is an inspiring and insightful look into what it takes to build a successful business.

As the book explains, one must stand by their vision, have a good understanding of different markets, keep their customers as the number one priority, pick one thing to do very well, and finally don’t be afraid of taking on larger players.

And lastly, don’t let expense stop you!

With dedication and perseverance, success is within your reach–even if you don’t have the money to pursue your big ideas right away.

Instead of relying exclusively on capital raising firms, find other means (friends or organizations who can fund your ambition) to help realize your dream.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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