S.F. conference pushes ‘cloud computing’

05 Nov S.F. conference pushes ‘cloud computing’

Leaping onstage with characteristic showmanship, Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff kicked off his Dreamforce conference Monday surrounded by projections of clouds in a bright blue sky, flashing white lights, swirling fog and rock music blasting from the speakers. He used his keynote address to outline a series of alliances between his San Francisco “cloud computing” company and some of the biggest brands in the country – Starbucks, Amazon, Facebook, Harrah’s casinos in Las Vegas. He was joined onstage by rock singer Neil Young – along with Young’s 1959 Lincoln Continental, which Young had retrofitted into an electric car. Salesforce.com has specialized in software that runs corporate sales and marketing programs over the Internet, but it’s branching out. According to Benioff, it’s now possible for any developer to write software for Salesforce.com that also runs on the public Web. “It’s time for you to change how you think of our company and what we can do for you,” Benioff said. Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, demonstrated a recruiting application running on Salesforce.com’s platform that lets Facebook members recommend friends for jobs, which can be applied for directly from within the social networking site. Starbucks also has integrated its “My Starbucks idea” Web site with Facebook. Salesforce.com already runs the site, which is a place for customers to send Starbucks their ideas, but Facebook members can now see which ideas their friends have posted. Young, meanwhile, urged the United States to reclaim its heritage as an innovator in the auto industry by developing clean electric cars so Americans can roam the Continental Divide as they always have.

 San Francisco Chronicle, By Deborah Gage, November 4, 2008