After investing $28B in Slack, Salesforce bets on one of its own as new CEO


A conversation with Lidiane Jones about the future of Slack

In excitement Late last year, Salesforce announced that co-CEO Bret Taylor was stepping down. Shortly thereafter, Slack co-founder and CEO Stewart Butterfield announced his departure. We would soon learn that his successor would be Lidiane Jones, who at the time was GM of Commerce Cloud, Marketing Cloud and Experience Cloud at Salesforce.

While Jones ran essentially all B2C operations with that title, she was relatively unknown in the industry. Nonetheless, she brought a solid background spanning more than a dozen years at Microsoft and almost four years at Sonos, which helped her develop a strong understanding of software and product development.

Of course, she found herself in a sticky spot replacing a beloved founder and CEO while trying to figure out ways to bridge the gap between Salesforce and Slack. At the same time that those executives were leaving the company, Salesforce as a company was struggling with a number of activist investors. One of their main complaints has been the lack of integration between Salesforce’s core products and the company’s expensive acquisitions over the past few years.

Of these, Slack was by far the most expensive at a whopping $28 billion. The hope was to put the platform into practice and make it the communication layer for the entire Salesforce family of products. Salesforce has done some integrations between the two platforms so far, but not enough to satisfy critics.

At the same time, Jones must continue to protect Slack’s independence, as it cannot be perceived as so tightly integrated with Salesforce that it cannot operate outside of the ecosystem.

Nobody said the job would be easy.

TechCrunch+ recently caught up with Jones at the Salesforce Boston offices to discuss how her transition has been going so far and what challenges she faces as she starts her career.

Welcome on board

Not long before Jones took over the CEO post, The Information released a revelation that suggested the relationship was at stake between the two companies was damaged. The report also said Marc Benioff and Butterfield had a falling out, the deal was Taylor’s baby, and with Taylor and Butterfield gone Benioff was less interested in it, a point Jones now disputes.

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