Storm Clouds, Clearing Skies and TrailblazerDX
March started out with storm clouds gathering, as the activist investor muscle flexing continued. Elliott nominated a ‘slate’ of directors (which turns out to mean 2 or 3!), indicating they weren’t totally satisfied with the changes to the board made in January.
The battle lines were being drawn up, with Salesforce’s spending on Dreamforce, Trailblazer Ranch and Matthew McConaughey described as more akin to WeWork than an enterprise software company, and Starboard Value CEO calling out a “subpar mix of growth and profitability”.
Things were looking grim, with knives being sharpened in advance of the quarterly earnings call.
Earnings of $1.68/share versus analyst predictions of $1.36
Revenue of $8.38 billion versus $7.99
Clearly reports of the death of Salesforce had been exaggerated, especially as the activist investors had got most of what they were looking for. TechCrunch took the view that Salesforce could extricate itself from it’s current woes by beating growth estimates and improving profitability, and the first part has clearly been achieved.
A couple of days later Marc Benioff would be castigated for suggesting that more tech executives should follow Elon Musk’s ruthless management style and approach to layoffs - maybe a sign that he is hardening up to please the activists?
The announcement that got the biggest headlines at TDX 23 was EinsteinGPT, which had a nice demo showcasing the possibilities. I’m of the opinion that right now this is mostly smoke and mirrors, but it does show the direction of travel. I’ve written about this elsewhere - TL;DR I think it will help us get big quick but it will still need human experts to sign off that what it wants to do is right.
The second most popular announcement was the 5 free integration user licenses - something that was raised at Dreamforce 22 so a pretty quick turnaround. Great to see some positive steps around governance.
There was also a great talk on the Apex roadmap from Daniel Ballinger and Chris Peterson, which gave me a lot of things to look forward to, and no doubt more hard decisions as to whether to build something now that I might have to throw away, or wait for a new feature that might be delayed.
It wasn’t all positive though, with more people finding out they’d been laid off after the conference completed - maybe coincidental, maybe no longer needed as Dreamforce is 6 months away.
Not everyone is enjoying the ascent of artificial intelligence - Alexander Hanff wrote a great article in El Reg, explaining how ChatGPT killed him off prematurely when asked it to tell him about himself.
Layoffs continue with Amazon cutting another 9,000 jobs - this still looks to be a tech specific issue rather than something affecting all industries.
Another blow for tech in the US was the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank. After creating the run on the bank, the tech bros immediately took to social media to demand their deposits be protected. Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction.
Salesforce vexed me this month by re-issuing an old threat to start charging for the security review for free apps - luckily they changed their minds, at least for now.
One of the items from the Apex roadmap session at TDX 23 - User Mode with Permission Sets - intrigued me so much I wrote a post about it.
And as mentioned earlier, I had some thoughts about EinsteinGPT, with a couple of detours down memory lane.
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