On my way to Manhattan for SugarCon, the Sugar CRM user event and show. Taking a long slow train ride with plenty of leg room, WiFi, and power for optimum balance of productivity and sleep. Beautiful day out there, sunny and almost warm. What a good idea for Sugar to leave San Francisco to bring its show to its customers on the east coast. Still I like getting to San Francisco but will have the opportunity again when I head to Oracle Analyst day is a couple weeks. Busy time of year.
Looking forward to hearing Sugar’s evolving story. As the major open source player in CRM they have a unique approach to a market that’s only getting more complex where no one’s position is ever secure. I will be posting from there.
Giants Win World Series
In other news from San Francisco, Salesforce.com will build a corporate campus on Mission Bay in San Francisco. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the company has acquired 14 acres in a 303 acre redevelopment zone near AT&T Park in Mission Bay with a value of $278 million and will build a two million square foot campus there over the next decade.
Of course, this is a great endorsement for the city and the region which has long been a center of entrepreneurship and innovation in technology. But it also does some good things for Salesforce.com. It will help to consolidate the company’s headquarters staff under one roof, though thanks to innovations like Salesforce’s Chatter collaboration software, geographically locating the staff will likely become less important.
Nonetheless, there is ample evidence that companies that have campuses can offer their employees better quality of life—both at work and during off hours—thus making the employer more desirable thus making it easier to attract top talent.
I spent a day last week at SAS Institute’s Cary, NC campus and saw first hand how this can work. The company was founded in 1976 and is still private despite having revenues of $2.31 billion last year. SAS may be a model of what a company can accomplish with some luck, hard work and a campus. Some quick numbers they give visitors tells the story:
300 developed acres
4,600 people on campus, part of a workforce of over 11,000 worldwide
Founder and CEO Jim Goodnight, PHD likes to bring everything back to efficiency and believes his campus promotes it in his workforce. People who have less to stress over, like child care for instance, are more productive. So it’s no surprise to find the following amenities on the SAS campus.
Child care, an infirmary, various athletic fields and facilities including a junior Olympic sized pool, three subsidized cafeterias. My favorite amenity though is the two artists in residence who develop some of the art on the walls—the better to promote creativity in the staff.
It goes on but the major point I wish to focus on is that this private company has never had a layoff, never had a down year, always made a profit and never borrowed a dime. It doesn’t hurt to have good products and shrewd management to pull off this kind of feat and neither does treating your people well.
This is a very different model from what we see in most of the rest of the U.S. and maybe the world today. To find a model like this you need to go back to the mid-twentieth century and the industrialist Henry Kaiser, founder of Kaiser Shipyard which built Liberty Ships in WWII, Kaiser Aluminum and Kaiser Permanente which initially provided healthcare for his workers. You should look him up. Meanwhile I look forward to seeing what Salesforce develops on Mission Bay.
Oracle Open World opens up on Sunday with a keynote at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. The annual convention will attract about forty thousand people to the Bay area and promises to be exciting and interesting on multiple levels.
This will be the first Open World post Oracle’s acquisition of computer pioneer Sun Microsystems. Last year Oracle introduced a version of its Exadata storage unit based on Sun architecture (and presumptive deal close) and with the company finally in the fold you can bet there will be more product announcements that mix hardware and system software.
I don’t know if there will be net new announcements, but Sun was the driver of the Java revolution and reduced instruction set computing among other things, so I think it’s way safe to say there will be interesting things coming out of that camp.
This is also the first year post limited release of Oracle’s Fusion architecture. Fusion, you may recall, is a platform intended to unify the many disparate applications that Oracle bought up a few years ago. It is also the platform for merging and rebuilding applications along a more or less consistent Oracle product direction. With another year of development and roll out of Fusion, there will be much more to discuss and announce next week.
There’s also cloud computing to consider. A little over a year ago Larry Ellison was caught on tape at the Churchill Club pooh-poohing cloud computing but that was before Oracle really had a dog, a pack actually, in the hunt. Now that Oracle is better positioned, and given that Oracle’s database and servers support so much of cloud computing, look for Oracle to claim credit for the sunrise — to paraphrase an old Bill Clinton line.
Then, too, you can expect the usual shenanigans from a whole host of characters and partners. Everyone in this business today is into coopetition so look for fun announcements from Dell, HP (we want our secrets back) and Salesforce.com for starters.
Speaking of Salesforce, back by popular demand (or whatever) Marc Benioff will again address a crowd at the Yerba Buena Theater just down the street from the conference. Last year’s inaugural talk was expected to be some kind of challenge to Oracle but turned out to be a very successful symbiotic and statesman-like address. Too bad too because we all waited outside in the rain for the doors to open expecting something more combustible. This year, I hope it’s a sunny day.
On the CRM front, Anthony Lye and company have been working hard all year (Sounds like Christmas and the North Pole, doesn’t it?) to advance the front office suite on multiple fronts. The CRM team has scheduled two hundred sessions for the conference just on CRM. Forget the database, Java and Sun, if you’re into CRM the conference will have you drinking from a fire hose.
Trying to register for sessions is a Byzantine process though, which uses an on-line system that looks like it was built by monkeys on crack. To keep my sanity I have decided not to register for anything but to simply show up. I have a hard copy schedule. I know this strategy might exclude me from a few popular sessions but I figure that’s what beers are for.
The real star of the show, for me, will be the city of San Francisco. It’s not a perfect place for sure, but there is a wonderful energy in the city any time and it’s triply true during Open World and Dreamforce. You walk around high on the possibilities uncovered in the sessions and accented by the environment — the hills, the cable cars, the fog, the restaurants and most importantly the indefatigably optimistic crowd of natives and visitors. Did I mention the California wines?
I digress. One week till Open World. I don’t know what will be announced because I won’t get briefed till later and then I’ll be in quarantine. So, I don’t know any more than you. But I can’t wait.