Salesforce Has Another Activist Investor: Report
Wade Tyler Millward
Third Point joins other activist investors with stakes in Salesforce – potentially threatening co-founder and CEO Marc Benioff’s position with the vendor.
A fifth activist investor, Third Point, has taken a stake in enterprise applications vendor Salesforce, potentially threatening co-founder and CEO Marc Benioff’s position with the vendor.
New York-based Third Point, led by CEO and founder Dan Loeb, joins Starboard Value, ValueAct Capital Partners, Elliott Investment Management and Jeff Ubben’s Inclusive Capital as an activist investor taking share of the San Francisco-based vendor, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Third Point has taken stakes in Campbell Soup, Walt Disney Co. and Shell before pushing for changes, according to the Journal.
Notably, Third Point took a stake in Intel in 2020 before the chipmaker’s CEO Bob Swan stepped down and was replaced by VMware leader Pat Gelsinger.
[RELATED: Salesforce Board Of Directors: Who’s In, Who’s Out, Who Stays After Elliott Stake]
Third Point Takes Stake In Salesforce
CRN has reached out to Third Point and Salesforce for comment.
Although the end goals of the activist investors aren’t publicly known yet, along with Third Point’s history of CEO changes, Elliott Management has a history of taking publicly traded companies private.
Elliott Management recently made headlines for its role in Citrix going private and merging with data applications vendor Tibco. The activist investors could potentially push Salesforce to make more job cuts or divest one or multiple subsidiaries – which include Slack, MuleSoft and Tableau.
Gerry Szatvanyi, CEO of OSF Digital, a Québec-based Salesforce partner, told CRN in an interview that he has been happy with the company’s leadership.
“I’m pretty confident in the leadership with Salesforce,” Szatvanyi said. “I’m very confident that they are going to drive through this transformation quite well. So they still have my vote of confidence, hands down.”
OSF has experienced some of the slowdown in business discussed by Salesforce and other vendors, Szatvanyi said. But he still expects north of 20 percent growth in business from 2022 to 2023.
In January, OSF even announced the purchase of U.S.-based Salesforce partner Original Shift as part of OSF’s growth strategy.
“I would say demand, it’s still pretty healthy,” Szatvanyi said. “We see a lot of desire, on our customers’ side, to better use the technology that they already have. (To) better integrate between different (Salesforce) clouds, gain more efficiencies, drive higher return on the technology that they already have.”
He continued: “Salesforce is at the center of everything that we are doing.”
The activist investors come as Salesforce – and other tech vendors – contend with moderated customer demand for digital tools after a surge at the height of the pandemic. In January, Salesforce announced layoffs for about 7,000 employees.
The company also seen the departure of key leaders Bret Taylor, Benioff’s former co-CEO, and Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield.
Salesforce’s total market value in 2022 went from $250.3 billion at the start of the year to $132.6 billion by year’s end.
The activists appear to have had a hand in changes coming to Salesforce’s board of directors. Salesforce will have three new board of directors members come March 1 – and lose two longtime members.