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11/9/2005
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Salesforce.com Hires Asia-Pacific CEO

International sales efforts take on new importance as Salesforce competes with Oracle and its soon-to-be-acquired Siebel on-demand CRM applications.

Salesforce.com Inc.'s overseas appeal continues to grow, and this week the company moved to provide more leadership for its expanding Asia-Pacific presence, naming Stephen Russell, a longtime Salesforce customer, as CEO of the region.

Salesforce entered the Japanese market five years ago and has since expanded into Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, and China. Russell will oversee operations in all of those countries and will report to the company's president, Jim Steele.

Russell comes to Salesforce from Seko Global Logistics, where he standardized on Salesforce's on-demand sales-force-automation service for the company's sales activities. Before that, Russell managed a 1,000-user Salesforce environment at Eagle Global Logistics.

CEO Marc Benioff said in an E-mail that he couldn't provide any specifics on revenue growth in the Asia-Pacific region, citing the company's quiet period as it prepares to reveal quarterly earnings next week.

Salesforce's global reach is growing more critical to the company's future as it contends with increasing threats in the market for providing on-demand customer-relationship-management software. The company has long targeted Siebel Systems' on-demand CRM offering as its primary competition, but Oracle's pending acquisition of Siebel promises to give the service deeper pockets and more integration with other back-end business applications than perhaps any CRM offering to date. Meanwhile, Microsoft is preparing to launch Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 next month, with plans to heavily promote an on-demand, subscription-based version of the product through its vast partner network.

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