The First 10 Years of Salesforce

No doubt about it, Salesforce has a pretty interesting back story. For a company of its size ($17.1 billion annual revenue, 49,000+ employees), it's had a pretty crazy ride from starting in 1999. In this blog post, we are taking a look at exactly what happened in the first 10 years from 1999 that set up Salesforce to make it into the global giant it is today.


Salesforce History 1999



Salesforce began in 1999, incorporating officially on March 8. Marc Benioff, Parker Harris, Frank Dominguez, and Dave Moellenhoff worked from a rented one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco to begin the first every version of Salesforce's CRM. In this first year they also scribbled out the V2MOM (Vision, Values, Methods, Obstacles, and Measures) strategic plan on the back of an envelope - a strategy that remains at the core of Salesforce to this day. In September John Dillon was appointed CEO and by the end of their first year, the company had expanded to 40 employees, which called for an office upgrade at the Rincon Center. It is important to note that in this first year, they raised almost $20million in funding.




Salesforce History 2000


2000 was the year of raising awareness. The first official event around the theme "end of software" was held in February. In true Salesforce fashion, it included a concert from The B-52s (just a taste of what is to come!). They also got their first major press coverage in The Wall Street Journal due to their protest against software outside of a Siebel Systems conference. Inside the company, the infamous 1-1-1 model was launched for the first time. This was also the year of the dot com bubble burst, resulting in 20% of the companies workforce being laid off. Despite this, they still rounded off their third year with an impressive profit of $5.4million.




Salesforce History 2001


In their third year of operating Salesforce opened up offices in Dublin and Tokyo, establishing a global presence. Marc Benioff was officially appointed CEO in November, and they surpassed 3,000 customers making it the fasted-growing CRM company EVER. They also recored a spectacular revenue of $22.4 million for the fiscal year, ending January 31, 2002.






Salesforce History 2002


2002, in the fourth year of Salesforce's existence, they deliver $51million in revenue. In this year they also announce the new Enterprise Edition which helps to gain them over 5,700 customers and 70,000 users in 107 countries.




Salesforce History 2003


2003 was a big year for Salesforce! They hosted the first ever Dream Force with (wait for it)....1000 attendees and a whopping 52 presentations. If only they knew where it would end up. At this stage the company employees more than 400 people and has opened offices in Australia, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Spain, and the U.K. Revenue this year tops $100 million.




Salesforce History 2004


This year Salesforce goes public at the price of $11 a share. Building on their global success from 2003, they expand to 12 offices around the world, totalling 767 employees who serve a customer base of 13,900. In 2004, their revenue sits at a cushy $176 million.




Salesforce History 2005


In 2005, seven years after starting, Salesforce launches App Exchange and makes an incredible $309.98 million in revenue. Their customer base grows to 20,500 and they hire another 500 employees, taking their employee count to 1,300.



Salesforce History 2006


This year Salesforce moves into the realm of mobile app development through the acquisition of Sendia and the production of the original Salesforce mobile app, AppExchange Mobile. The release of App Exchange from the year before proves to be a success with 575 apps from 250 independent software vendors appearing on the platform this year. They are a mere $3million short of hitting $500 million in revenue and almost 30,000 customers as the year draws to a close.




Salesforce History 2007


2007, 9 years after beginning, Salesforce hits 41,000 customers worldwide and launches IdeaExchange, now know has Trailblazer Community. They also hit $748 million in revenue and the AppExchange community grows to 450 software vendor partners.




Salesforce History 2008


2008! The 10 year mark! What a year to hit over 1billion in revenue, making Salesforce the first enterprise level cloud computing company to breach the billion dollar mark in annual revenue. They also reach another milestone at Dream Force, with 10,000 registered attendees. On top of all that they release which is a Platform as a Service, designed to simplify the development and deployment of cloud-based applications and websites.


  1. Hit marketing and awareness HARD in the first few years.
  2. Focus on customer success.
  3. Design the culture from the very, very beginning.