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IT Confidential

"Customers want software in the form of Amazon.com," says Salesforce.com's Benioff. "My Yahoo! meets Siebel--that's our vision."

Marc Benioff believes in the Internet service provider model. "That's our model," Benioff says. "We're trying to change the world, and we wouldn't want to change the world with the existing software business model. Otherwise, I would have stayed at Oracle." Benioff, chairman and founder of Salesforce.com, an application service provider that hosts CRM software for use over the Web, is reacting to an item that ran in this column last week suggesting his company had prepped--and then delayed--a packaged software product. Benioff says Salesforce never intended to offer licensed packaged applications: "The end of software--that's our mantra." Also, Benioff says, Salesforce CEO John Dillon's recent departure wasn't due to a dispute over a packaged-app strategy. The two were colleagues at Oracle in the 1990s--Benioff recruited Dillon after leaving Oracle to found Salesforce--and they mutually agreed it was time for Dillon to move on. Meanwhile, Salesforce is preparing to launch next quarter an enterprise edition of its online software that features capabilities usually found in packaged apps, such as customization and integration with legacy systems.

You go first! Richard Clarke, special adviser to the president for cyberspace security, addressed the Trusted Computing Conference in Mountain View, Calif., last week about the need for increased security for corporate IT systems, and how it won't come cheap. "Security costs money," Clarke said. Coincidentally, last week Teradata, the high-end computing division of NCR, released the results of a Web survey it conducted in October with 160 IT execs on the question of whether interest-rate cuts will stimulate the economy, which presumably would include increased spending on IT: in all, 51% said it would; 49% said no.

E-sourcing software vendor Moai Technologies inked a merger agreement last week with Medebiz, a supply-chain software vendor that focuses primarily on health care. One of Moai's earliest investors, tech VC Redleaf Group, brokered the merger and will install Michael Nelson, managing director of Redleaf, as the company's new chairman. The combined company will operate under the Moai name and will be headquartered in Pittsburgh. The company will focus on producing a broader suite of E-procurement products, officials say.

Staples said last week that Paul Gaffney, former executive VP at rival Office Depot, has been hired as CIO. Scheduled to start in January, Gaffney will replace current CIO Brian Light, who will head up StaplesDirect.com, the online and catalog division of the $11 billion office-supply retailer. Gaffney held top positions in Office Depot's IT department from 1995 to 1999. Most recently, Gaffney was senior VP of Schwab Technology, the IT arm of Charles Schwab & Co., where he oversaw the brokerage's technology strategy, including its successful E-business initiatives. Coincidentally (or not), Schwab recently reorganized its top IT ranks. Executive VP Geoff Penney was promoted to CIO this month; he reports to former CIO Dawn Lepore (InformationWeek co-Chief Of The Year for 2000), who's now vice chairman of technology and administration.

Carl Yankowski abruptly resigned last week as CEO of Palm, the handheld computer maker. Chairman Eric Benhamou will serve as interim CEO. Coincidentally (or not), Gartner released a report last week that said Palm's share of the PDA market slipped a bit in the third quarter to rival Handspring. Perhaps to ward off rumors about Yankowski's departure, Palm reasserted that it would meet earnings expectations for its fiscal second quarter, which ends Nov. 30. In a statement, Yankowski said his departure was a reaction to Palm's move to split its Platform Solutions Group--the division that oversees the lucrative Palm operating system--from its hardware business. Said Yankowski: "With Palm's transition into two individual businesses almost complete, my role has changed, and it no longer matches my aspirations."


Hey, my role doesn't match my aspirations, but you don't see me going anywhere! But I guess I've missed my window of opportunity to quarterback the Minnesota Vikings. Pass me an industry tip to jsoat@cmp.com or phone 516-562-5326. Or if you want to talk about software, security, or frustrated ambition, meet me at InformationWeek.com's Listening Post: informationweek.com/forum/johnsoat.

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