Protocol | Enterprise

Salesforce and bill? Enterprise software giant launches ‘streaming’ site

Salesforce+ is a marketing campaign masquerading as a streaming site. The company's core user base is sure to tune in, but who else will?

Marc Benioff

Marc Benioff is the CEO of Salesforce, which is launching Salesforce+.

Photo: Kimberly White/Getty Images

Imagine this: It's Friday night. The long workweek is finished and you're curled up on your couch. After debating for 20 minutes whether to watch "The Office" or "Schitt's Creek," you get tired and instead turn on … Salesforce?

Somehow, that's what the software giant is trying to make happen with its latest gambit. The company is launching "Salesforce+," effectively an expensive marketing campaign disguised as a streaming site.

The idea builds off of its successful Trailhead program, an online educational platform that teaches people how to use Salesforce's tools and serves as a key recruitment tactic for the company. But instead of Trailhead's "modules" on topics like data management, Salesforce+ will offer original programming created by Salesforce and, at some points, its customers and users.

The company created its own "studio" to support the campaign called, unsurprisingly, Salesforce Studios, and has hundreds of people working on the project. The goal, according to Chief Marketing Officer Sarah Franklin, is to offer training content that creates some deeper connection to the brand to encourage users to "want to use our products and want to engage more with us."

In other words, marketing 101. And anyone who has been to an enterprise software conference in the past five years has seen this episode before.

Software vendors routinely get clients, CEOs and other notable figures to extol the benefits of their company. The short video segments often frame products as a silver bullet to solve all of corporate America's most pressing business dilemmas, an attempt to convince whoever is watching that they couldn't possibly go another day without buying whatever upgrade the company is hawking that cycle. But the videos also often highlight the impact the business is having on society at large, an attempt to show it's not just revenue that these software providers care about. (That is, however, always the main goal.)

And just like a lot of successful content marketing, the videos play on the fears of sales and marketing professionals worried about making their quota for the month, or hitting their engagement goals. There's a lot of pressure on those folks, both internally and externally, and many of them are looking for help and inspiration.

Apparently, now all of that content from Salesforce will be available on demand, all day, everyday on Salesforce+, along with original series and live channels that will stream content from the company's many events every year.

Salesforce is even hiring script writers and producers to support it. (Maybe a deal with Shonda Rhimes is next?) The eventual plan, however, is to create a YouTube-like platform that allows for "community-submitted content and series," per Franklin. The company will, of course, retain oversight control, so don't expect to see any videos on topics like Salesforce's diversity and inclusion struggles.

Salesforce is not the first to try to disguise a corporate-backed video content hub as something more profound. Publicis Sapient, for example, hired talent from the Wall Street Journal and Netflix to launch a video service it referred to as "the Quibi of business."

But given Salesforce's penchant for flashy marketing campaigns, as well as its success in building up a devoted community of users, the launch isn't too surprising. Salesforce+ gives the company a platform to house its hours of corporate curated content and promote the litany of events it does every year.

And while there is definitely going to be a market for those who want to watch events virtually or expand their Salesforce training, the continual shadow of the platform's corporate backers is bound to put an upward limit on just how successful its editorial efforts can be.

With Dreamforce coming up in September, it's a given that Salesforce+ will be shoved in the faces of every attendee. There's just one burning question: How does Salesforce, a company renowned for its marketing prowess, not come up with a more unique name?

Protocol | Policy

Why Twitch’s 'hate raid' lawsuit isn’t just about Twitch

When is it OK for tech companies to unmask their anonymous users? And when should a violation of terms of service get someone sued?

The case Twitch is bringing against two hate raiders is hardly black and white.

Photo: Caspar Camille Rubin/Unsplash

It isn't hard to figure out who the bad guys are in Twitch's latest lawsuit against two of its users. On one side are two anonymous "hate raiders" who have been allegedly bombarding the gaming platform with abhorrent attacks on Black and LGBTQ+ users, using armies of bots to do it. On the other side is Twitch, a company that, for all the lumps it's taken for ignoring harassment on its platform, is finally standing up to protect its users against persistent violators whom it's been unable to stop any other way.

But the case Twitch is bringing against these hate raiders is hardly black and white. For starters, the plaintiff here isn't an aggrieved user suing another user for defamation on the platform. The plaintiff is the platform itself. Complicating matters more is the fact that, according to a spokesperson, at least part of Twitch's goal in the case is to "shed light on the identity of the individuals behind these attacks," raising complicated questions about when tech companies should be able to use the courts to unmask their own anonymous users and, just as critically, when they should be able to actually sue them for violating their speech policies.

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Issie Lapowsky

Issie Lapowsky ( @issielapowsky) is Protocol's chief correspondent, covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs. She also oversees Protocol's fellowship program. Previously, she was a senior writer at Wired, where she covered the 2016 election and the Facebook beat in its aftermath. Prior to that, Issie worked as a staff writer for Inc. magazine, writing about small business and entrepreneurship. She has also worked as an on-air contributor for CBS News and taught a graduate-level course at New York University's Center for Publishing on how tech giants have affected publishing.

While it's easy to get lost in the operational and technical side of a transaction, it's important to remember the third component of a payment. That is, the human behind the screen.

Over the last two years, many retailers have seen the benefit of investing in new, flexible payments. Ones that reflect the changing lifestyles of younger spenders, who are increasingly holding onto their cash — despite reports to the contrary. This means it's more important than ever for merchants to take note of the latest payment innovations so they can tap into the savings of the COVID-19 generation.

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Antoine Nougue,Checkout.com

Antoine Nougue is Head of Europe at Checkout.com. He works with ambitious enterprise businesses to help them scale and grow their operations through payment processing services. He is responsible for leading the European sales, customer success, engineering & implementation teams and is based out of London, U.K.

Protocol | Fintech

When COVID rocked the insurance market, this startup saw opportunity

Ethos has outraised and outmarketed the competition in selling life insurance directly online — but there's still an $887 billion industry to transform.

Life insurance has been slow to change.

Image: courtneyk/Getty Images

Peter Colis cited a striking statistic that he said led him to launch a life insurance startup: One in twenty children will lose a parent before they turn 15.

"No one ever thinks that will happen to them, but that's the statistics," the co-CEO and co-founder of Ethos told Protocol. "If it's a breadwinning parent, the majority of those families will go bankrupt immediately, within three months. Life insurance elegantly solves this problem."

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Benjamin Pimentel

Benjamin Pimentel ( @benpimentel) covers fintech from San Francisco. He has reported on many of the biggest tech stories over the past 20 years for the San Francisco Chronicle, Dow Jones MarketWatch and Business Insider, from the dot-com crash, the rise of cloud computing, social networking and AI to the impact of the Great Recession and the COVID crisis on Silicon Valley and beyond. He can be reached at bpimentel@protocol.com or via Signal at (510)731-8429.

Protocol | Workplace

Remote work is here to stay. Here are the cybersecurity risks.

Phishing and ransomware are on the rise. Is your remote workforce prepared?

Before your company institutes work-from-home-forever plans, you need to ensure that your workforce is prepared to face the cybersecurity implications of long-term remote work.

Photo: Stefan Wermuth/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The delta variant continues to dash or delay return-to-work plans, but before your company institutes work-from-home-forever plans, you need to ensure that your workforce is prepared to face the cybersecurity implications of long-term remote work.

So far in 2021, CrowdStrike has already observed over 1,400 "big game hunting" ransomware incidents and $180 million in ransom demands averaging over $5 million each. That's due in part to the "expanded attack surface that work-from-home creates," according to CTO Michael Sentonas.

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Michelle Ma
Michelle Ma (@himichellema) is a reporter at Protocol, where she writes about management, leadership and workplace issues in tech. Previously, she was a news editor of live journalism and special coverage for The Wall Street Journal. Prior to that, she worked as a staff writer at Wirecutter. She can be reached at mma@protocol.com.
Protocol | Enterprise

How GitHub COO Erica Brescia runs the coding gold mines

GitHub sits at the center of the world's software-development activity, which makes the Microsoft-owned code repository a major target for hackers and a trend-setter in open source software.

GitHub COO Erica Brescia

Photo: GitHub

An astonishing amount of the code that runs the world's software spends at least part of its life in GitHub. COO Erica Brescia is responsible for making sure that's not a disaster in the making.

Brescia joined GitHub after selling Bitnami, the open-source software deployment tool she co-founded, to VMware in 2019. She's responsible for all operational aspects of GitHub, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2018 for $7.5 billion in one of its largest deals to date.

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Tom Krazit

Tom Krazit ( @tomkrazit) is Protocol's enterprise editor, covering cloud computing and enterprise technology out of the Pacific Northwest. He has written and edited stories about the technology industry for almost two decades for publications such as IDG, CNET, paidContent, and GeekWire, and served as executive editor of Gigaom and Structure.

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