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The streaming wars are coming to the office

The streaming wars are coming to the office

Good morning! This Wednesday, Salesforce enters the living room with Salesforce+, Marjorie Taylor Greene gets another Twitter suspension, and Google doubles down on privacy for teens.

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The Big Story

Netflix, Hulu and … Salesforce+?

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?

Say hello to Salesforce+, an expensive marketing campaign masquerading as a streaming site. The company even launched Salesforce Studios to support the initiative and has hundreds of people working on the project — including script writers and producers — according to CMO Sarah Franklin.

  • The idea is an expansion of Salesforce's successful Trailhead program, an online educational platform that offers courses on how to use the company's own tools. It's become a critical recruitment channel for Salesforce.
  • But instead of "courses" on topics like data management, Salesforce+ will offer original programming created by Salesforce and, at some points, its customers and users.
  • "It's going to help you learn things that help you do great at your job, whether you're a salesperson, a marketing professional, a CEO, etc.," she told Axios.
  • Salesforce wants to use the new content hub as a way to create a deeper connection to the brand to encourage users to "want to use our products and want to engage more with us," per Franklin.

This is marketing 101. And it's a dog and pony show that anyone who's been to an enterprise software conference in the past five years has witnessed firsthand.

  • Software vendors routinely get clients, CEOs and other notable figures to tout the benefits of their company in prerecorded marketing videos.
  • The short segments often frame their own products as a silver bullet to solve all of corporate America's most pressing business dilemmas or highlight the impact the business is having on society at large.
  • The videos often take advantage of the fear among sales and marketing professionals who are under pressure to meet their monthly quotas or engagement goals and seek help wherever they can get it.

Now you can get that sweet Salesforce content on demand, along with original series and live channels that will stream the company's many events every year. Eventually, Salesforce is aiming to create a YouTube-like platform that allows for "community-submitted content and series," per Franklin, with the company retaining editorial control over what gets posted.

Salesforce is not the first corporation to try to disguise a corporate-backed video content hub as something more profound. It's taking a similar approach to Publicis Sapient, which hired talent from The Wall Street Journal and Netflix to launch a video service it refers to as "the Quibi of business." (Relatedly, Monica Langley, a former WSJ reporter now serving as Salesforce's executive vice president, will host one of the shows on Salesforce+.)

But there's always an audience for the hours of corporate-curated content that will be housed on the platform.

  • The key market is those who want to expand their Salesforce training. And now, as the return of in-person work and conferences remains an open question, it's also likely that many people will want to watch Salesforce's event virtually.
  • But the continual shadow of the platform's corporate backers is bound to put a 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 did Salesforce, a company renowned for its marketing prowess, not come up with a more unique name?

— Joe Williams (email | twitter)

A version of this story appeared on Protocol.com.

A MESSAGE FROM SINGAPORE EDB

Singapore is fast becoming a global hotbed of tech innovation. It's easy to see why. Nearly 80 of the world's top 100 tech firms have set up outposts there, including Google, Facebook, Stripe, Salesforce and homegrown unicorns like the super-app Grab.

Learn More

People Are Talking

On Protocol: Niantic's John Hanke is dreading the metaverse:

  • "Technology should be used to make these core human experiences better — not to replace them."

Sen. Ed Markey and Reps. Kathy Castor and Lori Trahan want gaming to better protect children:

  • "It is imperative that Congress acts with urgency to enact a strong privacy law for children and teens in the 21st century."

On Protocol | Workplace: Codes of conduct work in favor of companies, not workers, attorney Domenique Camacho Moran says:

  • "That is their raison d'etre. Should it be that way? No, in my opinion."

On Protocol | China: Alibaba's rape allegation exposed the industry's binge drinking problem, feminist activist Lü Pin said:

  • "A movement against workplace sexual harassment needs a carrier for fermentation. And the deep-rooted business drinking culture is such a carrier, which many people loathe, including men."

On Protocol: Tidal might be relatively small, but that's OK, COO Lior Tibon says:

  • "We don't look at music streaming as a winner takes all, or ultimately a duopoly or oligopoly market. I think it's a much more diverse marketplace."

Making Moves

Robinhood is buying Say Technologies in a $140 million deal, indicating that the company is trying to branch out its services.

AWS reportedly won a $10 billion NSA contract. It's a similar-sized deal to the scrapped JEDI contract, Nextgov reported, and (surprise!) Microsoft has already filed a protest.

Unity acquired Parsec, a remote work tool for game developers, for $320 million. It's Unity's biggest purchase to date.

Devesh Mishra is joining Deliveroo as chief product and tech officer. Mishra worked at Amazon for over a decade, most recently as the VP of global supply chain.

Hatem Naguib is Barracuda's next CEO. He's been the company's COO since late 2018.

Marjorie Taylor Greene's Twitter account was suspended again for a week after the platform labeled one of her tweets as misleading. It's her third and longest suspension this year.

Mao Taotao, Weibo's PR director, was arrested for suspected bribery. He was fired from the company as a result.

In Other News

  • Google is doubling down on teen protections. Like Instagram, the company is trying to increase protection of minors on its services by setting the default mode for uploading YouTube videos to private for teens, among other changes.
  • Hackers stole $600 million in crypto, marking potentially the biggest digital currency theft in the world. The DeFi site PolyNetwork was the target of the attack, which affected tens of thousands of people.
  • On Protocol | Workplace: A fight is brewing over vaccine mandates. So far, they've been relatively uncontroversial in places like San Francisco. But as HPE and others roll out mandates in redder states like Texas, they're bracing for blowback.
  • Amazon will pay customers who get hurt by faulty products. The company said it will compensate customers with up to $1,000 in damages, and the seller distributing the product on Amazon's platform would not need to cough up any money.
  • Venmo is digging deeper into crypto. It's introducing a feature that allows people to use cash earned from Venmo purchases to buy crypto, months after the platform began allowing users to buy, sell and hold the digital currency.
  • Working remotely? Expect a pay cut. Large employers like Google, Facebook and Twitter are handing out less money to those who choose to work from home, although experts say they can afford to pay them just the same.
  • On Protocol | Workplace: Have you ever noticed that all tech website illustrations look so similar? The reasons may not be too surprising: Illustrators aren't well-paid, especially freelancers, and tech leaders don't seem to care about what their homepages look like.
  • New York Times tech workers are staging a walkout today, saying the company's publisher is resisting unionization efforts. Tech staff started planning the half-day walkout a couple days ago, after learning that the Times would leave them out of a unionization vote.

One More Thing

Tech talk around the clock

Sometimes, we have to take tech news in small doses. And for Clockwise, a podcast hosted by Dan Moren and Mikah Sargent, that means mulling over four stories, once a week.

Topics range from WWDC recaps to hypothetical questions like which tech giants they'd want to break up and what tech unions could look like in the future. At 30 minutes per episode, it's a quick way to ponder where the industry is and where it might be headed.

A MESSAGE FROM SINGAPORE EDB

Business leaders say they choose Singapore for its modern tech infrastructure, strong government support, robust pipeline of talent and pro-business regulations (the World Bank ranks it No. 2 in the world for ease of doing business). Plus, its location in the heart of Southeast Asia serves as a launchpad into the bustling Asian-Pacific market.

Learn More

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Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated Ed Markey's title. This story was updated on Aug. 11, 2021.

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