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The cloud computing company is laying off 165 of its San Francisco employees; the cuts are expected to impact around 1,000 of its 50,000 employees in total. The news came as Salesforce’s stock was up more than 25 per cent Wednesday after it reported that its overall revenue grew 29 per cent year over year in its second fiscal quarter. (San Francisco Chronicle, Financial Times)

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Talking point: In March, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff pledged to avoid layoffs for 90 days during the pandemic and urged other CEOs to follow suit. A spokesperson told the San Francisco Chronicle the company was now “reallocating resources to position the company for continued growth,” adding that “this includes continuing to hire and redirecting some employees to fuel our strategic areas, and eliminating some positions that no longer map to our business priorities.”

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About 25 people protested outside the Dreamforce event in San Francisco. Others forced Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff to twice stop his keynote speech to protest the company’s contracts with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). (Business Insider)

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Talking point: Though such displays aren’t uncommon at pre-arranged events hosted by multinational corporations, the protests come at an awkward time for Benioff. The California native, who has a net worth of US$6.9 billion, has become a conspicuous critic of the very system that made him rich. “Capitalism, as we know it, is dead,” Benioff wrote in The New York Times last month, noting the rise in income inequality has soured younger generations on the profits-first mantra of international commerce. Though the cloud-based software giant has diversified its workforce and pledged to achieve gender parity, Benioff has refused to cancel its CBP contracts, which critics say implicate the company in the White House’s immigration crackdown.

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Salesforce is moving its marketing platform out of its own data centres, and will also integrate its core customer relationship-management (CRM) tools with Microsoft Teams, a workplace chat app. (CNBC)

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Talking point: The deal is a win for Microsoft, which competes with the growing Google Cloud service and market leader Amazon Web Services (AWS) to host the data and software of enterprise clients. But it also shows how big-business-focused technology companies are managing competition with the same firms from which they buy services. Microsoft has a product to rival Salesforce’s core sales platform, which is run on AWS. And Salesforce and Amazon are both reportedly trying to cut database software from Oracle—which also sells a popular CRM—out of their systems. Meanwhile, Salesforce is hedging its office-messaging bets by integrating with Teams; it already has a longstanding partnership with rival Slack.

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This deal will allow Salesforce to speed up the growth of its cloud-based business-management platform. The acquisition is expected to close at the end of the company’s fiscal quarter on October 31. (Bloomberg)

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Talking point: The deal comes two months after Salesforce purchased Tableau, a data-visualization software company, for US$15 billion—its largest-ever acquisition at about 13 times Tableau’s revenue. At the time, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said, “Current valuation in software is so high, if you want to get a deal done, you have to take out cash at a much higher multiple.” Its ClickSoftware purchase signals Benioff’s confidence in the field-services business, which helps clients manage employees on remote job sites—industry analysts estimate the market will reach nearly USS$5.6 billion by 2023 with a compound annual growth rate of 16.6 per cent between 2018 and 2023.

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Businesses selling products on the Chinese e-commerce giant’s platforms will get access to Salesforce’s customer relationship management (CRM) cloud services to analyze their sales. (Reuters)

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Talking point: The partnership gives San Francisco-based Salesforce a foothold in China’s booming cloud-services industry, which reached US$12 billion in 2018, up nearly 75 per cent from a year earlier. The country now makes up about 12 per cent of the global cloud-computing market. The deal also means Salesforce has to hand over its data to Alibaba to comply with China’s cybersecurity law, which requires all companies doing business in China to store their data in the country. The US-China Business Council, which represents companies subject to the law—has raised concern that it makes them vulnerable to cyber security breaches by the Chinese state. It’s a trade-off Big Tech companies are making: firms like Apple and Amazon have set up data-storage facilities in the country to comply with the law.

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The all-stock deal is Salesforce’s largest-ever acquisition. The tech giant is offering US$177.88 a share, 42 per cent more than the Friday closing price of Tableau’s stock. Marc Benioff, Salesforce co-CEO, also said the company will make Seattle its official second headquarters. (Reuters, TechCrunch)

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Talking point: Salesforce will now be able to help its enterprise customers’ employees make better use of the large amounts of information they collect while dealing with their own clients. The deal also puts Salesforce in even more direct competition with Redmond, Wash.-headquartered Microsoft, both geographically and business-wise. Tableau’s data-visualization and-analysis tools compete with Microsoft’s Power BI, a business intelligence platform. It’s a lucrative market—big data and analytics solutions will be worth US$260 billion by 2022, according to International Data Corp., a research firm. Microsoft previously beat Salesforce to the acquisition of LinkedIn in 2016; the professional social network has since added customer relationship management tools, making it an alternative to Salesforce’s core product.

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The business software giant will no longer let customers sell automatic and semiautomatic firearms using its e-commerce technology. Customers will also be banned from selling some firearm parts, like “multi-burst trigger devices” and “magazines capable of accepting more than 10 rounds.” Salesforce said the changes will apply to new customers immediately, and to existing ones once their current contracts expire. (Washington Post)

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Talking point: This is a bold move for Salesforce, which counts some gun retailers among its biggest customers. One of them, Camping World, spends an estimated US$1 million a year on the company’s software. The move follows growing public pressure on companies to dissociate from gun retailers, and other socially- and environmentally-criticized organizations. In August 2018, Shopify also banned firearms and gun accessories. The company has also faced pressure to stop processing payments for extremist organizations; two weeks after The Logic reported on internal concerns on the matter, some of the groups were removed from the platform.

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The women—who said they survived sex trafficking on Backpage.com, which permanently closed in April 2018—sued Salesforce on Tuesday. They allege the company knowingly helped Backpage market sex workers to “pimps, johns and traffickers who had been underusing its trafficking services.” According to the complaint, Backpage resurged after its stagnation in 2013, helped by the tools Salesforce provided it with. Salesforce declined to comment on the suit. “We are deeply committed to the ethical and humane use of our products,” said a spokesperson in a statement to Bloomberg. (Bloomberg)

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Talking point: Salesforce’s choice in clientele has triggered controversy in the past—in June 2018, more than 650 employees signed a letter calling to end the company’s contract with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which co-CEO Marc Benioff refused to do. The company is known for its liberal political activism; it’s helping sponsor an anti-human trafficking event in April. This case could set a precedent on whether the content creator or the platform that hosts it is responsible for harmful content—an issue that’s largely been focused on online platforms, but could extend to those providing software to them, as well.

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The transportation startup’s investors include the Business Development Bank of Canada, the Center of Excellence in Energy Efficiency and Investissement Québec. Effenco said the financing round will help it open a Norwegian office to expand its European salesforce. (The Logic)

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Talking point: Effenco is one of the only Canadian companies in the cleantech trucking space—it created a system, similar to hybrid cars, that turns off the engine of a heavy-duty vehicle every time it comes to a stop. Its technology can be used in big tractors that operate in ports, for example. The demand for clean technology in the transportation sector is huge—it is the among the highest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in Canada. Though Effenco is an early mover in the space, most auto giants have already developed or are in the process of developing hybrid and electric trucks. Effenco, however, is banking on its cost-effectiveness to stand out from the pack, claiming that it offers the cheapest EV technology in terms of dollars per ton of CO2 emissions avoided.