Salesforce CEO speaks of failed efforts to buy Twitter, LinkedIn

Wed Oct 26, 2016 7:44pm EDT
 
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By Julia Love

(Reuters) - Salesforce.com Inc (CRM.N: Quote) Chief Executive Officer Marc Benioff spoke on Wednesday about a pair of key acquisitions that got away, suggesting his vision for LinkedIn Corp LNKD.N was different from Microsoft Corp's (MSFT.O: Quote) and that he would have pursued Twitter Inc (TWTR.N: Quote) if shareholders had not learned of his plans.

Speaking at a technology conference hosted by the Wall Street Journal in Laguna Beach, California, Benioff declined to elaborate on what he had hoped to do with micro-blogging site Twitter.

Twitter hired bankers earlier in October to explore selling itself. Technology and media companies including Salesforce.com, Walt Disney Co (DIS.N: Quote) and Alphabet Inc's (GOOGL.O: Quote) Google looked at the company but passed on buying it.

Some regarded Twitter as an unlikely fit for Salesforce.com, whose platform is popular among sales teams. Benioff said he was forced to drop the deal when investors began voicing concerns.

“We’ve never had a deal leak before; we don’t really understand that dynamic,” said Benioff, who is an avid Twitter user. “We had to stop because I’m running the business in partnership with my shareholders.”

Benioff was also effusive about his interest in professional social networking site LinkedIn, which Microsoft agreed to buy for $26.2 billion in June. Benioff told technology news website Recode in June that Salesforce.com made a bid for LinkedIn and was primarily interested in its recruiting business.

Benioff on Wednesday said he saw parallels between Salesforce.com’s business model and LinkedIn’s.

“We really liked some of the business fundamentals,” he said, adding few details on his vision for an acquisition of LinkedIn.   Continued...

 
Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of Salesforce, speaks at the WSJD Live conference in Laguna Beach, California, U.S., October 26, 2016.     REUTERS/Mike Blake