Zoho CEO Blog Levies Sharp Accusations Against Salesforce.com's Benioff - InformationWeek
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11/4/2008
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David Berlind
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Zoho CEO Blog Levies Sharp Accusations Against Salesforce.com's Benioff

Here's something you don't see too often: The CEO of one company going public about the sort of sensitive conversations with the CEO of another company -- the sort of conversations that normally start behind closed doors and stay behind closed doors. In this case, it's Zoho's Sridhar Vembu taking Salesforce.com's Marc Benioff to task for trying to force Zoho to shut its CRM offering down before Zoho would be allowed to join Salesforce.com's AppExchange program.

Here's something you don't see too often: The CEO of one company going public about the sort of sensitive conversations with the CEO of another company -- the sort of conversations that normally start behind closed doors and stay behind closed doors. In this case, it's Zoho's Sridhar Vembu taking Salesforce.com's Marc Benioff to task for trying to force Zoho to shut its CRM offering down before Zoho would be allowed to join Salesforce.com's AppExchange program.In his blog, Vembu writes:

That's when I got the full measure of the man: Benioff told me he could not permit us to play on the AppExchange as things stood, but he would be happy to acquire us. We had several rounds of meetings on this, finally I told him I really don't see any cultural compatibility between the companies. He changed tack and repeatedly tried to get us to discontinue Zoho CRM, in return we would get to play on AppExchange. I was furious because both Benioff and his team clearly knew we had a CRM offering going into this engagement, and if they had this as a precondition for us to integrate into AppExchange, we would never have put in the resources we did.

Since then, Salesforce has repeatedly tried to block customers from migrating to Zoho CRM, by telling them (falsely) that they cannot take their data out of Salesforce until their contract duration is over. We have e-mails from customers recounting this.

Vembu goes on to praise Google's openness despite the fact that Zoho and Google are also head-to-head competitors.

As best as I can tell, there has been no official public response from Benioff & Co. He's pretty busy. Salesforce is in the middle of its annual love fest (Dreamforce) taking place in San Francisco. So for now, let's just say that there's still another side of this story that remains to be heard and that we may end up in a place where both parties see each other as being less than truthful about the facts.

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