Thinking M&A the Salesforce way: A fireside chat at Canaan

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John Somorjai and Joydeep Bhattacharyya - Thinking M&A the Salesforce Way
Joydeep Bhattacharyya (Canaan Partners) and John Somorjai (Salesforce Ventures)

After a busy day at the office and taking meetings yesterday, I hustled over (i.e., took an Uber) to the Canaan Partners office in South Park. As far as tech goes, South Park is a tony part of SF.

The topic: Thinking M&A the Salesforce Way – Fireside chat with Salesforce’s John Somorjai and Canaan’s Joydeep Bhattacharyya on what’s driving recent acquisitions like MuleSoft.

Before the event started, I made some new connections and caught up with familiar faces. There’s no other way around it, you gotta show up to make things happen.

Thinking M&A the Salesforce Way: My Takeaways

Thinking M&A the Salesforce Way: A Fireside Chat at Canaan Partners - Paubox

Here are my takeaways from last night’s fireside chat at Canaan Partners:

  • 15% of Salesforce employees come from acquisitions.
  • Salesforce Ventures: 218 companies in portfolio. 11 of which have been acquired by Salesforce.
  • Customer success team is very important on the back end.
  • They view themselves as strategic investors on the venture side.
  • Salesforce Ventures rarely leads. They average one investment per week (Wow).
  • MNA is tough now (IPO market is opening).
  • It’s incredibly stressful to buy a public company.
  • “Speed is everything.”
  • Salesforce needs core group of leaders to be incentivized to stick around after acquisition.
  • They are focused on buying companies that can hit $100M ARR within 12 months.
  • “If you’re building a $10M or $20M business in Salesforce, no one cares.”
  • Be upfront and transparent when meeting with CorpDev.
  • “We know every company has issues. We have issues.”
  • “Trust is so core to our value as who we are as a company.”
  • Customer attrition (churn) is so crucial in a SaaS company.
  • There’s only a handful of companies that will want to buy your company.
  • A big reason Salesforce acquired Mulesoft: Because Mulesoft is playing a big role in helping customers go thru digital transformation.
  • Salesforce had been customer and investor in MuleSoft since 2013.
  • Be involved in DreamForce and AppExchange to get on Salesforce radar.
  • “Spending one week at Dreamforce is incredibly valuable in terms of understanding our strategy.”
  • Snapchat uses Quip as a verb within their company.
  • From the top, Marc Benioff forces the product teams to think about what to build vs. what to acquire.
  • John is on the board of National Venture Capital Association.
  • Immigration is a hot button for NVCA right now.
  • If IPO window closes, M&A activity could pick up.
  • Re: SaaS: “The fundamentals of the industry are fantastic…This is the future of the software industry.”

Rayfe Gaspar-Asaoka (Canaan Partners)

Hoala Greevy and Rayfe Gaspar-Asaoka
Selfie with Rayfe Gaspar-Asaoka

Mahalo to Rayfe Gaspar-Asaoka for the invitation to last night’s event. Rayfe has been keenly helpful to us since we met in 2016. See you later today, Rayfe!

SEE ALSO: Brushing Up Our SaaS Metrics in Silicon Valley

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About the author

Hoala Greevy

Founder of Paubox. Kayak fishing when I can. Native Hawaiian CEO.

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