Salesforce just spent $750 million to buy the work collaboration app Quip.
Although Quip is an interesting product, Monday’s acquisition was somewhat of a surprise, given Salesforce already has a note-taking feature and most of its recent acquisitions have been around machine learning startups.
So Business Insider spoke to Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff to find out what exactly prompted him to spend so much money on Quip, a startup with only 45 employees.
His answer: Quip CEO Bret Taylor.
“He’s one of the absolute rising stars of our industry,” Benioff told Business Insider. “It’s been my dream to work more closely with Bret Taylor.”
Benioff says his relationship with Taylor traces back 5 years to when he started hosting a private monthly dinner at his home, including other guests like Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and Dropbox CEO Drew Houston. Through years of conversation, Benioff says he’s has been impressed by Taylor’s depth of knowledge and vision for the cloud software space in general.
Taylor certainly has the track record to back it up: he’s responsible for co-creating Google Maps and Facebook’s “like” button, while serving as Facebook’s CTO at one point. He’s also recently been tapped to serve on Twitter’s board, making him one of the rising stars in Silicon Valley’s tech scene.
Grooming the next generation
Benioff says Taylor will directly report to him, immediately making him one of his closest lieutenants at Salesforce.
That’s a big stamp of approval given most startup CEOs don’t typically to join the inner circles of the executive team right after they get acquired.
Benioff compared Taylor’s upside potential to Alex Dayon, Salesforce’s president and chief product officer, who worked up the ladder after his startup InStranet got acquired by Salesforce in 2008.
But the bigger plan may be in putting together a group of young talent to become the leaders of the next generation for Salesforce. Adam Evans and Steve Loughlin, the 30-something cofounders of RelateIQ, the startup Salesforce bought for $390 million in 2014, continues to play a bigger role at the company, including more exposure at Salesforce’s annual conference, Dreamforce.
Benioff wouldn’t comment on whether Salesforce will continue its buying spree. This year alone, Salesforce has bought 7 companies, including DemandWare which cost $2.8 billion. But he reiterated that any acquisition wouldn’t just be about the product, but the talent that comes with it.
“We’ve purchased donzens of companies. And through that we’ve been able to bring a lot of innovative people into the company over the years. It’s a very important part of running a successful technology company,” he said.