Merry go round Image by PublicDomainPictures from PixabayThis week Salesforce announced some changes to its senior leadership team as its leadership gathered in Hawaii. There were two significant changes. Brian Millham became Chief Operating Officer, effective August 8th, and Gavin Patterson moved from President and Chief Revenue Officer to President and Chief Strategy Officer. The news broke in an SEC filing on August 8th, leading to a 3.96% drop in share price over the last day.

Marc Benioff - Salesforce CEO Source Salesforce (Source Salesforce)
Marc Benioff – Salesforce CEO Source Salesforce

Marc Benioff, founder and Co-CEO Salesforce, tweeted his congratulations to Brian Millham, stating, “Congratulations Brian Millham NEW Salesforce COO! ❤️

The move is seen as a deserved promotion, with Millham retaining responsibility for customer success. His previous role was Customer Success Officer and Chief Operating Officer, Global Distribution, and he has been with Salesforce since it was founded in 1999.

Millham’s promotion recognises his success in various roles within Salesforce, including leadership positions in business development, account management, and sales. There is no immediate replacement for the chief customer success officer, though one might expect something to follow fairly swiftly.

Has Patterson stepped back or up?

The second move is more interesting. Despite Patterson overseeing significant growth within Salesforce over the last two years, this could be seen as a sideways move. However, the role of the Chief Strategic Officer is also higher level, and Patterson may have wanted to shift to the more strategic role.

Bret Taylor, co-CEO at Salesforce celebrated both moves in his tweet: “Congrats to @bsmill, Salesforce’s new Chief Operating Officer. Congrats to @PattersonGavin_  on his new role as Chief Strategy Officer. Best team in the world ❤️”

Chief Revenue Officer is a very active role for any global company, and the travel schedule can be brutal. Currently, there is no announcement about a replacement. Will Benioff recruit from outside or promote from within? The former seems more likely, as he probably would have announced the promotion at the same time otherwise.

Patterson’s move to Chief Strategic Officer also sees Alexandre Dayon relinquish the role that he has had since 2017. Though his LinkedIn profile is not yet updated. Dayon retains his role as chairman of the advisory board. The filing stated that Patterson’s new role would see him “help the Company continue to innovate and deliver customer success.”

Enterprise Times: What does this mean

That this was made public in an SEC filing rather than a press release might indicate that Salesforce wanted the news to emerge quietly. With the WSJ and others covering the announcement, that didn’t happen.

What is interesting is the lack of announcement around Dayon’s move and a new Chief Revenue Officer. This is an important role within any organisation, and the company will want to fill it quickly. When that happens, Salesforce is likely to push the news out widely. Will this will happen before, during or after Dreamforce in September?

Over the last year, despite positive results, the Salesforce share price has slid. A year ago, it was $251.56. It is now $182,24. Whoever Benioff/Bret Taylor appoints, they will want to see that slide reversed.


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