Published On: Tue, Feb 17th, 2015

How a ‘Crackpot Idea’ Became Salesforce.com

Parker Harris was the mastermind behind Salesforce.com's tech architecture

Parker Harris + Marc Benioff

Marc Benioff is the most recognizable face of Salesforce, but the revolutionary company had other founders: Dave Moellenhoff, who called the software as a service model a “crackpot idea” at first, Frank Dominguez and Parker Harris, an English literature major who had been programming since high school with his Apple 2 computer, according to Business Insider.

Before Salesforce.com was developed, software was on company systems, took ages to load and involved complicated licensing fees. The group, who formed the idea from a small apartment on Telegraph Hill in San Francisco, innovated with putting the software on the internet and charging clients a simple, relatively low subscription fee. According to Business Insider, Benioff said, “Technology is always becoming lower cost and easier to use. Let’s ride it.”

At that time, it was unusual for a start-up to be based in San Francisco, but the partners didn’t switch their location. The resulting company is one of the largest employers in San Francisco and is moving its headquarters into the city’s largest building, the Salesforce Tower. Fifteen years on, the company has many smaller imitators, but few real peers. Salesforce has an annual revenue of over $5 billion and a market cap of $35 billion.

While Marc Benioff is the spokesman, it was Parker Harris’ architecture that made Salesforce a cut above the rest. Early Salesforce investor Halsey Minor told Business Insider, “Parker created one of the most efficient development organizations in the history of the internet.” His motto was “Do it fast, simple, and right the first time  (and did we mention fast?). Those are going to be our core values.”

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