‘While limited hiring continues, most departments have reached their hiring goals for the fiscal year,’ a Salesforce spokesperson told CRN in an email.
Salesforce has “ended contracts with some temporary recruiting contractors” since many of the company’s departments will not be hiring for the rest of its fiscal year, a spokesperson confirmed to CRN.
Social media posts from affected workers putting the number of those cut at around 90 began appearing earlier this week. Protocol first reported the cuts as well as a hiring freeze.
[RELATED: Oracle Lays Off 201 Employees In California]
“While limited hiring continues, most departments have reached their hiring goals for the fiscal year. As a result, we have ended contracts with some temporary recruiting contractors,” a Salesforce spokesperson said in an email to CRN.
At least nine users of the LinkedIn social media network posted to say they no longer work for the San Francisco-based vendor, with At least three of those LinkedIn users saying that “90+” Salesforce employees were laid off. The LinkedIn users said they worked in recruitment and business development. Salesforce has more than 73,000 workers.
The worker cuts come about two months after Salesforce lowered its guidance for the amount of revenue it expects to see for the fiscal year, ending Jan. 31, 2023. It was the second haircut to guidance this year from Salesforce.
Executives in August reported a year-over-year quarterly rise in second-quarter revenue and strong growth with its Slack subsidiary and Sales Cloud and Service Cloud products, but decelerations in Commerce Cloud and Marketing Cloud during the company’s latest quarterly earnings call.
Salesforce co-CEO Marc Benioff said at the time that he and his team saw “customers becoming more measured in the way they buy” and sales cycles “get stretched” with deals “inspected by higher levels of management.”
“Nearly everyone I’ve talked to is taking a more measured approach to their business,” he said. “We expect these trends to continue in the near term.”
Other technology companies to cut workers recently as fears of a recession grow include Oracle, Twilio and Avaya. And Intel may have plans for layoffs as the PC market slumps, according to a report earlier this week.
The reports come amid global economic uncertainty that has the channel preparing for a possible recession. This week, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former director of the U.S. Congressional Budget Office, told a crowd at CRN parent The Channel Company’s XChange Best of Breed 2022 conference that he expects a modest recession to hit during the middle of 2023 due to the Federal Reserve increasing rates, continuing inflation and uncertainty ahead with China as well as Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Some technology leaders have remained optimistic that IT will remain resilient in a recession. Also speaking this week at Best of Breed, IBM CEO Arvind Krishna said that technology spending generally is growing 3 percent to 4 percent faster than GDP over the past five years.
He told the crowd that energy security, i.e. a readily available supply of uninterrupted, affordable power, and a strong U.S. dollar means the Americas could also weather a recession well, while Japan, India and Australia all show positive data in the face of a recession as well.
Shares of Salesforce and Microsoft are trading higher Monday morning, leading the Dow Jones Industrial Average rally. Shares of Salesforce and Microsoft have contributed about a third of the blue-chip gauge's intraday rally, as the Dow was most recently trading 528 points higher (1.8%). Salesforce's shares are up $6.08, or 4.3%, while those of Microsoft have gained $8.43 (3.7%), combining for a roughly 96-point bump for the Dow. Also contributing significantly to the gain are JPMorgan Chase Walt Disney and American Express A $1 move in any one of the 30 components of the Dow results in a 6.59-point swing.
Bret Taylor, co-chief executive officer of Salesforce.com Inc., right, and Marc Benioff, co-chief executive officer of Salesforce.com Inc., wear rabbit ears during a keynote at the 2022 Dreamforce conference in San Francisco, California, on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022.
Marlena Sloss | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Salesforce stock rose almost 3% in extended trading on Wednesday after the enterprise software maker announced a new long-range profitability goal that showed the company's determination to operate more efficiently.
Several cloud software companies, including Salesforce, have become less compelling to investors as interest rates have risen to respond to higher prices this year, after becoming more glamorous during the Covid pandemic, when organizations boosted their use of programs employees could use without being in offices.
Management teams at cloud companies have sought to recapture interest by emphasizing cost-savings plans and pull forward their timelines for profitability. Salesforce itself said it would be more careful in adding talent.
The company went further on Thursday, as Amy Weaver, Salesforce's finance chief, revealed new targets for the 2026 fiscal year at the company's investor day, taking place in San Francisco during its Dreamforce conference. The company is aiming for a 25% adjusted operating margin, including future acquisitions, she said. That compares with the 20% target Salesforce announced one year ago for its 2023 fiscal year. The adjusted operating margin was 19.9% in the quarter that ended July 31.
Salesforce indicated that it intends to push adjusted sales and marketing spending as a percentage of revenue below 35% by 2026 through increasing self-serve efforts, alliances with partners, and productivity improvements for salespeople. In marketing, the idea is to draw on proprietary marketing channels. Sales and marketing on a GAAP basis took up over 44% as a percentage of revenue in the July quarter.
Additionally, Salesforce is keen to manage general and administrative spending, in part by evaluating real estate assets for a hybrid workplace.
Weaver reiterated the $50 billion revenue target for fiscal 2026 that it announced one year ago, but she said that the figure now takes into account a $2 billion headwind from exchange rates since last year's investor day.
Shares of Salesforce reached a 52-week low on Wednesday. The company has begun buying back its own shares as part of its first share-repurchase program, Weaver said.
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Salesforce, the titanic San Francisco corporate software company, is conducting layoffs — a first this year for the tech behemoth.
Details remain sparse, but according to Protocol and a laid-off employee who posted on LinkedIn, about 90 employees were affected. (A majority of the affected staffers were contractors in the company's recruiting department, a Salesforce spokesperson told SFGATE; as we’ve previously noted, Salesforce has been vague about whether contracted workers count as “employees,” or “Ohana.”)
If you ask 100 different investors if a stock is under- or overvalued and why, you're likely to get 100 different answers. If everyone knew a stock was undervalued, they would purchase it, which would drive the price up, and then it wouldn't be undervalued anymore.
However, going through the exercise to determine if a stock is undervalued is vital, as your research could yield significant returns. Today, I will dig into Salesforce (CRM 3.49%).
You can get a clue as to what Salesforce does by looking at its ticker: CRM. CRM is a common acronym that stands for customer relationship management, basically how a business interacts with current and prospective clients. The primary way to grow a business is by obtaining new customers and getting existing ones to spend more, so this software is vital for nearly every business.
CRM platforms have many capabilities, like marketing, customer service, and sales. By combining these operations into one software bundle, businesses can be more efficient in dealing with customers.
The CRM market opportunity is enormous, with the market expected to reach $158 billion by 2030, growing at a 13.3% annual rate from 2022 on.
That's an impressive market, but what's Salesforce's position in it? According to Statista, Salesforce controlled about 23.8% of the market in 2021, dwarfing second-place SAP's 5.4% market share. Furthermore, Salesforce's market share is growing, showing it is still the top pick for many businesses.
Salesforce's market leadership position in a growing industry checks many investment boxes. But how about its financials?
Despite a tricky second-quarter environment, Salesforce did well. Many businesses were not interested in purchasing new enterprise software. It's a cumbersome task, expensive, and has a steep learning curve. None of these activities are wise to do when the economy is struggling. If a business adopts new software, it's likely mission-critical and must provide significant value to the business.
In Salesforce's Q2 (ending July 31), revenue rose 22% YOY (year over year) to $7.72 billion. However, it lowered its fiscal-year 2023 (ending Jan. 31, 2023) revenue guidance from $31.75 billion to $30.95 billion. Nevertheless, this guidance still indicates 16.8% YOY growth -- not too bad for the current environment.
Remaining performance obligations (RPO) only rose 15% YOY. This trend is disappointing, as RPO is an indicator of future revenue. Still, this can be interpreted two ways. First, the difficult environment caused companies to pull back their spending, and this lost revenue will eventually return. Second, Salesforce has penetrated its market entirely, and its only growth will come from market expansion (projected to be 13.3% growth through 2030, as mentioned above).
When a growth stock's business begins to slow, investors demand profits. Profits have been slim in Salesforce's life as a public company, but management is projecting a 3.6% GAAP operating margin for FY23 (its current fiscal year). Much of Salesforce's losses come from heavy stock-based compensation -- in Q2, it was $851 million, or 16% of all operating expenses.
However, stock compensation is a noncash expense, which allows Salesforce to be free cash flow positive. In Q2, Salesforce produced $131 million in free cash flow, adding to its $13.5 billion cash and marketable securities position. With its cash pile, Salesforce plans to repurchase $10 billion in stock.
At face value, this may indicate that management believes its stock is undervalued. However, the primary reason for this repurchase plan is to offset shareholder dilution. Because of heavy stock-based compensation, Salesforce's share count has risen 38% over the past five years. This dilution makes each share less valuable, since each stock is worth a smaller stake in the company when new shares are issued.
If Salesforce were to drop all $10 billion on its shares right now, it would reduce its outstanding shares to a level last seen in 2021 before the acquisition of Slack was completed. That doesn't rewind the clock on share count much, but it would be a start.
As for a valuation, Salesforce trades at 5.7 times sales, which is low compared to other enterprise software companies like Adobe (11.3) and Autodesk (10), even though it used to trade in a range similar to its peers'.
However, Salesforce isn't close to the profitability levels of these two, which weighs into its valuation.
I'm on the fence about declaring Salesforce undervalued. While it operates in a massive and growing industry, its dominance has brought it to the point where it will likely grow at a similar rate to the overall market. As Salesforce flips the switch from growth at all costs to profitability, it may struggle with its high stock-based compensation bill.
I think this pessimism is reflected in its below-industry-average valuation. As a result, I think Salesforce shares are likely reasonably valued.
However, this doesn't mean you shouldn't buy the stock. As Warren Buffett once said, "It's far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price." Salesforce is a wonderful company; it just has a lot to prove before joining the ranks of highly profitable businesses.
Keithen Drury has positions in Adobe Inc. and Autodesk. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Adobe Inc., Autodesk, and Salesforce, Inc. The Motley Fool recommends SAP SE and recommends the following options: long January 2024 $420 calls on Adobe Inc. and short January 2024 $430 calls on Adobe Inc. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
The ultimate goal of pulling customer data together into a customer data platform (CDP) is building more meaningful customer experiences in real time. Up until now, that’s been more aspirational than real, but Salesforce is announcing Genie, a real-time data integration platform, today at the Dreamforce customer conference, which aims to make that dream a reality.
At its core, Genie is a new data integration model that underlies the entire Salesforce platform with the aim of moving data wherever it’s needed most — and doing it fast.
Patrick Stokes, EVP and GM of platform at Salesforce, says this is probably the biggest news coming out of Dreamforce this week. “Genie effectively enables the world’s first real-time CRM,” he said.
“So we’re announcing that our Customer 360 applications — sales, service, commerce, marketing, everything in our Customer 360 portfolio — now have access to an entirely new way of bringing data into Salesforce in real time at scale that we’ve never been able to achieve before. And with that, our users can orchestrate real-time customer experiences against those datasets,” Stokes explained.
Prior to this, the company had built data integrations based on the transactional data in the Salesforce CRM database. This goes back to 2007 when Salesforce announced plans for Force.com at that year’s Dreamforce. Stokes said Genie is the modern equivalent of that early attempt, using a data lake that the company built to store the data instead of a transactional database.
“We connected this lakehouse architecture to the Salesforce platform, which at the technical layer means literally, we taught it Salesforce metadata, which is the way that all of our services talk to each other.” This approach also allows the platform to work with external services and data repositories, as well. In fact, the Snowflake integration the company announced last week is built with this technology.
But Genie is more than just a data integration layer. By allowing data to flow faster and more freely, it opens up all kinds of automation possibilities, especially when you combine it with Einstein for AI and machine learning and Salesforce Flow, the company’s workflow tool.
“If your platform can suddenly talk to all of this new data, and that data is coming in in real time, then you can use our automation layer like Salesforce Flow to orchestrate workflows or automations in real time, but only if the platform can keep up with the speed of change and volume of data that’s coming in,” he said.
Part of the ability to go faster beyond the architectural changes at the software level is that Genie is running on Salesforce’s own cloud infrastructure, Hyperforce, which was announced in 2020 as a way to move data from Salesforce to the public cloud. In this case, they are using it to move data between Salesforce and other services, both on the platform and to other data sources like Snowflake or Amazon SageMaker.
He adds that this ability to move data around in real time (or near real time), creates what is essentially a customer data graph.
“When you connect all of these different data sources into Genie, be those directly or other data lakes like Snowflake, what you’re doing is you’re modeling the data. You’re basically hooking it up to a data model. And when you do that, you’re creating a graph of how all that data is related to each other, independent of where it lives in a particular system of record, which is incredibly powerful,” Stokes said.
Liz Miller, an analyst at Constellation Research, says the shift to a new data model is a much-needed move for the company by pushing the CDP beyond marketing
“Honestly the thing I find most important about this is that Salesforce is moving in the right direction with their vision of a customer data platform. They are not treating a CDP as if it is a marketing toy for marketing things. Instead, they are turning the CDP into a foundational layer of unified, normalized and persistent personalization and smart segmentation that benefits the entire customer experience front line across sales, service and marketing,” Miller told TechCrunch.
Sheryl Kingstone, an analyst at S&P Global Market Intelligence, who has been covering the CRM space for years, agrees, saying the key to this change is building the data mechanism in a way that you can share this valuable data more widely.
“They are really focused on building this as part of what I would say is a true platform with all of the assets that this needs to work, and hopefully, it will create what I call a ‘customer intelligence platform,’ which makes sure that you don’t have multiple different CDP silos. And we finally can have that single source of the truth and execute on it.”
The combination of tooling has the potential to be able to make things happen based on the data and the situation without requiring human intervention, and that can be powerful. But Kingstone says the human side still matters and companies have to learn to put data in the hands of the people on the ground working with customers.
That’s going to be a huge challenge, regardless of how sophisticated the technology is, but Salesforce is attempting something big here that’s never been done before by changing the way data moves around the platform. Whether that truly leads to better customer experiences, online and in person, however, remains an open question.
Unlike many Dreamforce announcements, customers don’t have to wait until next year for Genie. These new capabilities are available now.
Salesforce (NYSE:CRM) had its Investor Day yesterday, on the same day the market read through every comma, comment, sigh, and breath, from the Fed's Chair Jerome Powell.
The market's attention was distracted. After all, the market can only really track one news item at a time.
But as we now go through and discuss Salesforce's Investor Day, particularly its fiscal 2026 targets, I question whether there's really enough to excite new shareholders to this stock. I believe that Salesforce's new guidance didn't lead to significant surprises.
Indeed, I make the assertion that investors want to see cleaner GAAP profits. And that ultimately, investors are not looking too kindly to paying 26x non-GAAP EPS figures.
Let's be honest, despite all the excitement over Marc Benioff's co-founded company, Salesforce's stock has not been all that exciting. Yes, there have been a few winning periods, but as a whole anyone that's come to the stock after 2019 is more likely than not, holding a loser in their holding. That's 3 very long years. Difficult as it may be to imagine, this once crowd pleaser could turn out to be an investment ''dog''.
Salesforce has clearly succeeded in being the default company for businesses of all sizes and shapes to turn to and execute their marketing campaigns. But the stock got ahead of itself.
Salesforce has highlighted for us all to see that its strongest growth says are in the rear-view mirror. The guidance out to fiscal 2026 points to a 17% CAGR. Yes, there's a possible outcome where Salesforce is able to outgrow its own guidance.
But one way or another, the die is cast. Salesforce's revenue growth rates are maturing.
Fiscal 2023 is guided to 20% of non-GAAP operating margins. Concurrently, just under 11% of total revenues are being made up of stock-based compensation.
Nevertheless, as we look ahead, Salesforce declares that its profit margins will expand into fiscal 2026.
Now consider the following thought exercise. At 25% of non-GAAP margins on the back of $50 billion of revenues, we should expect Salesforce's stock-based compensation to trickle lower as a percentage of total revenue.
Can Salesforce get its SBC below 9%? Maybe it gets to below 8%? Maybe it's 7%? If we assume 7% and add 3% for the amortization of its acquisitions, that means that Salesforce's 25% non-GAAP profit margins translate into 15% GAAP margins. Note, I've been conservative and assumed 3% in amortization of intangibles, which is half the current amortization percentage, of 6%.
That means that investors in the stock in 2026 could expect to see $7.5 billion of operating profits.
That means that investors today are having to pay 20x its operating profits looking out 3 years into the future.
Surely, that's a rich multiple?
Now, let's get a little bit closer to home. Salesforce finishes its fiscal year in January. Looking out to fiscal 2024 (ending January 2024), Salesforce is priced at 26x its fiscal 2024 non-GAAP EPS.
I believe that this is a ''growth'' multiple for a business that is clearly not a growth stock anymore.
Despite recognizing all the potential and how deeply ingrained Salesforce is into the modern workforce, and how the company is essentially leading the digital transformation, I simply can't make the valuation work.
The market is showing no signs of letting up on Salesforce's stock in 2022. That means that over the next couple of quarters, as tax loss season takes hold, I believe that there's a substantial likelihood that the selling pressure increases.
When that happens, my argument is that too many investors will at the same time be challenging Salesforce and asking difficult questions about their investment.
And that's going to pose a significant problem for existing shareholders because they've so long become accustomed to ''trusting'' that Salesforce would do well. Indeed, it's very likely that a large proportion of Salesforce's shareholders use its products.
Yet, despite what Peter Lynch taught us, using the product isn't always the same as being rewarded for holding the stock. Even though admittedly, that works the vast majority of the time, I believe that Lynch's lessons may have been taken too far.
Indeed, I don't believe that present-day investment manager Peter Lynch would hold onto a stock that's priced at approximately 26x next year's EPS when there's a consensus agreement that Salesforce is going to be growing at less than 20% CAGR. After all, Peter Lynch did teach us the PEG ratio too.
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After financial services, health and education technology, Salesforce is focusing on the auto industry with the launch of Automotive Cloud, a dedicated product to help key industry stakeholders make the most of the data available to them.
In the digital age, the auto industry is witnessing an unprecedented transformation, with vehicles being more connected than ever and new selling and servicing models (like D2C and subscriptions) coming to the fore. The shift has increased the volume of data available to all involved parties, starting from companies manufacturing the vehicles to dealers and financers making them available to customers.
However, when it comes to mobilizing this wealth of information for customer benefit or revenue growth, companies have traditionally struggled. According to McKinsey, only 1% of automotive customers are fully satisfied with their car-buying experience, and just a quarter of automakers and dealers believe their companies have adapted well to selling online.
“The automotive industry is facing a new digital imperative amidst massive upheaval brought on by the rise of direct-to-consumer models and the dawn of the electric vehicle age,” said Achyut Jajoo, SVP and GM of manufacturing and automotive at Salesforce. “But with great disruption comes great opportunity, and companies accelerating into the digital-first future … can gain a competitive edge while simultaneously future-proofing their businesses.”
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To make this happen, Salesforce has introduced Automotive Cloud. The product uses Driver 360, which leverages the full power of Customer 360 to create a single, real-time view of the entire customer and vehicle lifecycle for automakers, dealers and automotive finance groups. It brings together information from all available sources, including customer interactions and milestones, helping automakers not only deliver improved service and experiences, but also drive revenue through better lead conversion and collaboration.
Driver 360 offers out-of-the-box solutions with industry-specific data models and processes, including driver console, vehicle console and AI and analytics capabilities.
The driver console, as the company explains, provides service teams with a complete view of every customer interaction through continuous touchpoints and customized alerts, from car browsing and purchase history to service journeys. This enables teams to effectively personalize support, offers and sales. Similarly, the vehicle console stitches together comprehensive vehicle information, such as odometer readings, vehicle market value and real-time service and repair data, for automaker, dealer or finance groups.
Meanwhile, under AI and analytics, the Automotive Cloud provides intelligent automation with click-based configuration and integration tools to simplify the building and delivery of branded and automated experiences, such as vehicle order status updates or shipment delay notifications, to help team members complete more tasks with fewer resources. It also offers purpose-built dashboards that provide a detailed overview of sales and business performance, customer and asset lifecycle and revenue trends to drive efficiencies at scale.
Multiple auto industry players, including Astara and Toyota Financial Services, are already looking to use Salesforce Automotive Cloud to transform customer experiences. The solution will be generally available starting from October 17, 2022.
“With Automotive Cloud, we will be able to increase the competitive advantage for our entire mobility ecosystem by connecting customer data and vehicle management together within the same platform,” Antonio Rodríguez López, chief strategy and transformation officer at Astara, said. “This will allow us to deliver the best customer experience and to increase our customers’ lifetime value.
According to Salesforce’s own research, 93% of auto industry leaders think that first-party data (similar to that used by the Automotive Cloud) will help substantially Boost the overall customer experience — whether during the vehicle browsing, purchasing, financing or post-purchase phase.
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