Activist investor Elliott looks to Salesforce

Marc Benioff

Salesforce founder and CEO Marc Benioff. Photo: Marlena Sloss/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

Activist investor Elliott Management has built a multi-billion dollar position in cloud software giant Salesforce, as first reported by the Wall Street Journal and confirmed by Axios with a source close to the situation.

Why it matters: Elliott usually wants substantial change in the companies it targets, and it almost always gets what it wants.

  • A recent high-profile example was Twitter, where Elliott sought to oust Jack Dorsey as CEO.
  • Other major tech companies Elliott has been involved with include Pinterest, Citrix, and AT&T.

The big picture: Salesforce is the world’s largest software-as-a-service (SaaS) company, but has seen its share price drop about 50% since its peak in November 2021.

  • Recent challenges have included slowing growth, major layoffs and the departure of co-CEO Bret Taylor.
  • Taylor is the second co-CEO of Salesforce to leave, after failing to fully engage with the company’s founder, Marc Benioff. He was also the driving force behind major Salesforce acquisitions, such as Slack and Tableau, where cultural integration proved challenging.

What they say: Elliott has yet to reveal the details of his intentions, but managing partner Jesse Cohn did issue the following statement:

  • “Salesforce is one of the world’s foremost software companies, and in following the company for nearly two decades, we have developed a deep respect for Marc Benioff and what he has built. We look forward to working constructively with Salesforce to advance the realize value appropriate to a company of its stature.”
  • Salesforce did not immediately respond to Axios’ request for comment.

Thought bubble: There are only a few companies big enough to even try to acquire Salesforce, and all of them would face rigorous antitrust scrutiny. But that doesn’t mean they won’t try now that Elliott is in the picture.

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