Strategic CIO // Executive Insights & Innovation
Commentary
5/21/2010
09:35 AM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
Commentary
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Microsoft Is Patent Troll, Says Salesforce.com CEO Benioff

Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff, never a particular fan of Microsoft's products, technology, vision, or prospects, can now add its legal strategy to his list of things he can't stand about Microsoft. Commenting on the patent-infringement suit filed against Salesforce.com by Microsoft, Benioff called the Redmond company a "patent troll."

Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff, never a particular fan of Microsoft's products, technology, vision, or prospects, can now add its legal strategy to his list of things he can't stand about Microsoft. Commenting on the patent-infringement suit filed against Salesforce.com by Microsoft, Benioff called the Redmond company a "patent troll."From a news article in the Wall Street Journal:

The San Francisco-based company's chairman and chief executive, Marc Benioff, also responded to a recent patent-infringement lawsuit from Microsoft Corp., calling the software giant a "patent troll" and adding that the suit "is not material to its day-to-day business."

"Patent trolls are a part of doing business," Mr. Benioff said, with his trademark bravado. "This is not significant."

Earlier this week, Microsoft accused Salesforce of infringing on patents related to methods including mapping data and displaying menus on Internet pages.

The merits and details of that lawsuit aside, the "patent troll" comment is consistent with Benioff's outspoken criticism of Microsoft as a company that is out of touch with today's online-driven world and out of its element in trying to compete in the cloud. In a conversation with Benioff in his San Francisco office a few months ago, here's how the feisty CEO characterized Microsoft's prospects:

"Microsoft is a great company in the perspective of operating systems for PCs, and for servers, and for Office, and for Back Office-that's what it used to be called; I don't know what it's called now," Benioff said. "And Microsoft succeeded greatly because they offered a lower-cost alternative to Data General or Digital Equipment-but those companies aren't around any more. That model is finished-they're gone.

"Today customers don't need to deal with all that stuff-they can just move to the Internet, and that's where the world is headed. Microsoft's mistake has been holding on too long to an old paradigm and as it keeps trying to control things and offer a new upgrade like Windows 7 that has no enhancements. And that's not innovation and it's not good for customers.

"On the other hand, you've got Apple and Google and RIM: those companies are what the Internet is all about, and they show the promise for how going live on the Internet can help our customers change their businesses. If you're a software company and you're not looking very, very closely at that simple truth, then you're not going to make it." (You can see the full article in the "Recommended Reading" list below.)

The Journal article about the lawsuit said Benioff brushed it off as "not significant" and "not material to . . . day-to-day business." But what is significant to Salesforce.com is Microsoft's recent commitment, led by CEO Steve Ballmer, to go "all in" for cloud computing.

So we'll be watching to see if the so-called patent troll can make a material or significant impact on Salesforce.com not in a court of law but in the marketplace of CIO decisions.

RECOMMENDED READING:

Global CIO: Salesforce.com Benioff On Beating Microsoft & SAP In The Cloud

Global CIO: Ballmer's Cloud Commitment Makes Microsoft Relevant Again

Global CIO: Salesforce.com CEO Benioff On IT Scams And Cloud Power

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
The Business of Going Digital
The Business of Going Digital
Digital business isn't about changing code; it's about changing what legacy sales, distribution, customer service, and product groups do in the new digital age. It's about bringing big data analytics, mobile, social, marketing automation, cloud computing, and the app economy together to launch new products and services. We're seeing new titles in this digital revolution, new responsibilities, new business models, and major shifts in technology spending.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Must Reads Oct. 21, 2014
InformationWeek's new Must Reads is a compendium of our best recent coverage of digital strategy. Learn why you should learn to embrace DevOps, how to avoid roadblocks for digital projects, what the five steps to API management are, and more.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
A roundup of the top stories and community news at InformationWeek.com.
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.