For over a decade, there was a fierce rivalry between cloud computing champion Salesforce.com and traditional software champion Microsoft, but that relationship changed in May when the two companies announced a partnership that will allow Microsoft’s Office software to work with Salesforce.com’s products, Business Insider (BI) said.
Before that, they were nothing but sworn enemies. Microsoft sells a popular alternative to Salesforce.com’s bread-and-butter customer relationship management (CRM) products and the two companies compete for the same customers, BI said.
But their ties improved after Satya Nadella took over as Microsoft CEO, the report said.
“Before, we just were not able to partner with Microsoft. Satya has opened a door that was closed. And locked. And barricaded”, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said, according to SiliconBeat.com.
It turns out that Benioff decided to bury the hatchet because Nadella agreed to let him steal an employee, BI said.
In an interview with Fortune, Benioff said, “I was at a dinner with Satya Nadella down at the Rosewood hotel in Menlo Park. And Satya was talking about what he is trying to achieve with the company and how he wants to be more collaborative. So I decided to test him.”
“I told him I wanted to hire one of his technologists as head of our infrastructure. What would be in it for Microsoft is the foundation of a partnership that would give us more kinds of ideas of things that we can do together. And he said okay. Now we’re learning about things that we could do with Microsoft’s file-management technologies and Office that we would never have known on our own”, the CEO said, according to Fortune.
Creating a partnership by poaching an employee could not have happened with former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. When asked about that, Benioff replied: “The other guy (Ballmer) did not care about having a relationship with Salesforce. In fact, he kind of did everything he could to not have a relationship with Salesforce”, according to Business Insider.
The poached employee wasn’t the first to move from Microsoft to Salesforce. There are lots of other examples, the report said.
But given the talent war going on in the tech industry, it’s not every day that a stolen employee leads to a partnership, BI said.