Activist investor Elliott looks at Salesforce

Marc Benioff

Salesforce founder and CEO Marc Benioff. Photo: Marlena Sloss/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

Activist investor Elliott Management has built a multibillion-dollar position in cloud software giant Salesforce, as first reported by the Wall Street Journal and confirmed by Axios with a source close to the situation.

Why it’s important: Elliott usually wants significant change in the companies it targets, and it almost always gets what it wants.

  • A recent high-profile example was Twitter, where Elliott wanted to oust Jack Dorsey as CEO.
  • Other major technology companies that Elliott has been involved with include Pinterest, Citrix and AT&T.

The big picture: Salesforce is the world’s largest software-as-a-service (SaaS) company, but has seen its share price drop by around 50% since the November 2021 high-water mark.

  • Recent challenges have included reduced growth, major layoffs and the departure of co-CEO Bret Taylor.
  • Taylor is the second Salesforce co-CEO to leave, after not fully connecting with company founder Marc Benioff. He was also the driving force behind major Salesforce acquisitions such as Slack and Tableau, where cultural integration proved challenging.

What they say: Elliott had yet to release details of its intentions, but managing partner Jesse Cohn issued the following statement:

  • “Salesforce is one of the premier software companies in the world, and after following the company for nearly two decades, we have developed a deep respect for Marc Benioff and what he has built. We look forward to working constructively with Salesforce to realize its value befitting a company of its size.”
  • Salesforce did not immediately return Axios’ request for comment.

Thought bubble: There are only a few companies big enough to even attempt to take over Salesforce, and they will all face strict antitrust scrutiny. But that doesn’t mean they won’t try, now that Elliott is in the picture.

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