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In 1999, Salesforce began in a small one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco, California. Marc Benioff, Parker Harris, Dave Moellenhoff, and Frank Dominguez envisioned creating a company with three breakthrough ideas: pioneering a new technology model in the cloud, a subscription business model, and an integrated philanthropy model. They started by building a sales tool called customer relationship management (CRM) that was as simple for everyone to use as Amazon.

 

 

 

Looking back on key moments in our timeline

Twenty years later, Salesforce is still democratizing technology, making the cloud, mobile, social, IoT, and now AI available to all companies, regardless of size and scale. And we’ve had so many fun-filled, inspiring moments along the way. Have you been following our digital scrapbook of Salesforce memories? We’ve heard behind the scenes stories about everything from the origins of Trailhead to a construction worker’s point of view while building the Salesforce Tower. While we’ll be posting more moments throughout the year, to date we’ve posted 20 in the 20 days leading up to our March 8 birthday. Here are a few of our favorites:

So today, we want to say thank you to our Salesforce family and our community of Trailblazers. We couldn’t have done any of this without you. We've been able to accomplish so much over the last 20 years — together.

So that’s why we're excited to celebrate our 20th birthday with you!

 

Salesforce 20th birthday concert

Pitbull takes the stage as an enthusiastic crowd cheers on Salesforce Plaza in San Francisco.
Salesforce employees enjoy the midday concert on a bright, chilly day. 

Salesforce co-founders Parker Harris and Marc Benioff speak to the crowd Friday at Salesforce's 20th birthday celebration in San Francisco. 

 

Nearly 1,000 employees gathered midday Friday in Salesforce Plaza as cupcakes were handed out and Salesforce characters mingled in the crowd. No announcement had been made as to who the performer would be, but rumors circulated.

Salesforce founders Marc Benioff and Parker Harris took the stage. Donning a white linen suit, cream fedora, and sparkling gem shoes Marc asked long-time employees to join them on stage. “If you've been with Salesforce for more than 15 years come up here!”

The crowd sang "Happy Birthday” and after enthusiastically grabbing birthday cake Marc announced, “We're so excited to have Pitbull join us in celebrating our 20th!”

With that, the crowd erupted as Pitbull stepped onstage looking dapper in his signature suit and sunglasses. “It's time to party!” he exclaimed, music blasted from the speakers, and the crowd erupted with screams, fists pumping in the air.

Outside the Plaza, passers-by peeked in, heads bobbing to the music. “Who is that?” an office worker asked in a food truck line across the street from the concert. “Pitbull!” yelled a smiling Salesforce employee. “Really?” the questioner asked, impressed. “Wow!”

In the windows of the nearby Salesforce East and West towers, employees watched the concert, happily dancing along.

 

20 Salesforce employees and community members say thank you

Together, we've been able to show that companies can do well and contribute to making the world a better and more equal place. It's because of our Ohana (the Hawaiian word for “family”) and community of Trailblazers that we've been able to accomplish all of this. Here’s why we’re grateful:

Trailblazers clockwise from top left: Hera Donaldo, Mara Lane, Bradley Robinson, Jessica Marr, Sarah Franklin, and Eric Chen.

 

"Whenever I hear my friends or family talk about how disconnected and unfair management is at work, I'm grateful that I don't worry about those things at Salesforce. I have supportive and transparent management that cares about both my professional development and personal well-being. It's that sense of empathy that makes Salesforce feel like a second home." – Hera Donaldo, Salesforce analyst, global enablement, San Francisco

 

"I am grateful to the Salesforce Ohana for providing a safe space to live your truth and show up as your authentic self every day with no judgement. Thank you for recognizing how important it is to acknowledge people with different experiences and backgrounds." – Mara Lane, Salesforce graphic designer, San Francisco

 

"To work for a company that actively stands up for LGBTQ rights. Very shortly after I joined the company in 2015 Marc stood up to the Indiana Gov. Pence for anti-gay legislation which included canceling all business travel to the state and including canceling the Connections conference happening in Indiana. Although Salesforce took a small hit by having to move our event, the message that the company has no tolerance for discrimination makes me proud to work here." – Bradley Robinson, Salesforce senior director of email marketing, San Francisco

 

"Salesforce has been such an integral part of my life for the past 17 years – from the great friendships that have been made over the years to the tremendous growth and diverse career opportunities it has given me, and most importantly instilling such great values – I have forever been transformed having been part of this incredible company that holds trust, customer success, equality, and giving back in such high regard." – Jessica Marr, director, enablement, San Francisco

 

"We're grateful today to every single one of our Trailblazers who have been with us on this journey! We do what we do because your love and passion for Trailhead and Salesforce inspire us to keep innovating. #Trailheart" – Sarah Franklin, EVP & GM, Trailhead & Developer Relations at Salesforce

 

"Grateful for Salesforce taking a leap of faith hiring me into the role, giving me the chance to prove what I'm worth and at the same time allowing me to give back to the community as much as possible. I feel fulfilled both professionally and personally working at Salesforce." – Eric Chen, Product Enablement Manager, San Francisco

 

Trailblazers clockwise from top left: Aaron McGriff, Becca Krass, Jenhan (Jonathan) Yu, Karen Mangia, Alita Eaton, and Selena Manno.

 

"Salesforce has quite literally changed my life. A year ago, I was unemployed. I spent my days binge watching Netflix and eating Cheetos while trying to figure out what's next. I had a handful of Trailhead badges and didn't even know what a Salesforce Admin certification was. Now I'm a Trailhead Ranger, Certified Admin, happily employed as an #AwesomeAdmin and helping inspire the next generation of Trailblazers. I'm so grateful to Salesforce and the incredible Trailblazer Community friends, mentors, and champions that have supported me every step of the way." – Aaron McGriff, Salesforce Business Systems Analyst at Masco Cabinetry, Ann Arbor, MI.

 

"I knew that working at Salesforce would be an adventure and a challenge, but I had no idea that it would be so much fun, too! One of the best opportunities Salesforce gave me was a short-term assignment in Australia. Those months changed my perspective on work, on life, and on leadership, and I came back inspired about the impact we make together as a company and what that means personally for each of us. I’m so lucky to have grown up into my professional self at Salesforce surrounded by very smart, supportive colleagues who have become incredible out-of-the-office friends. We try to figure out how to do the right thing together… for the business, sure, but also for each other."– Becca Krass, senior director, product marketing, San Francisco

 

"I'm really grateful for the feeling of family at Salesforce. It's quite amazing to be able to experience a hearty welcome no matter where you decide to explore." – Jenhan (Jonathan) Yu Salesforce associate project manager, San Francisco

 

"I am grateful that working at Salesforce gave me the opportunity to meet and build a relationship with my cousin (and fellow Salesforce employee), Mike Raabe. Truly an Ohana experience!" – Karen Mangia, VP Customer & Marketing Insights, Carmel, Indiana

 

"Salesforce gave me a positive and exciting place to be even when times were tough. During a hard time in my life due to medical reasons, Salesforce continued to give me hope for a brighter future. I looked forward to coming to work every day – working with a great group of people and striving toward an amazing future together for ourselves and our entire ecosystem. Salesforce continues to give me hope, strength and support to have an amazing career and overall life." – Alita Eaton, Salesforce senior manager, Enablement, San Francisco

 

"I have met the most wonderful people through volunteering over the years and feel this is the gem in the crown of working at Salesforce. Bringing people together with volunteering in many ways with team events and Ohana groups makes me so grateful to work here. Thank you!" – Selena Manno, senior renewal manager at Salesforce, Staines, Ireland

 

Trailblazers clockwise from top left: Leily Pan, Kate Loftus, Cyril Treacy, Darrin Underwood, Maggie Thistleton, and Emma Calderon

 

"I am grateful because I am encouraged to volunteer at Salesforce and spend at least a couple hours every weekend working at my local animal shelters. I feel more connected with my community and take advantage of giving back with Salesforce's donation match!" – Leily Pan, Salesforce marketing business planning director, San Francisco

 

"I am a guilt-free working mom! I spend my 56 hours of VTO volunteering in my children's classrooms, planning school fundraisers and volunteering for Girl Scout activities. No one says no to taking time for VTO. There are many awesome things about working for Salesforce, but not feeling guilty for taking time during the day to participate in these activities with my kids is No. 1 for me. Thank you!" – Kate Loftus, principal program manager, Emerging Services, Oakland

 

"I am grateful for this amazing  company allowing me to donate 1,000+ hours of volunteer time off over my career in Salesforce to Coderdojo, Blackrock AC, St Dominic's Girls School, Irish Cancer Society, Cancer Care West, and personally raising over $50,000 for good causes!" – Cyril Treacy, Salesforce vice president industry and solution architects, Ireland

 

"I've been happy to work for other companies, but I have never been so proud to work for a company before. The culture of giving and caring for others is like nothing I've seen before at any other organization. Be it MLK Day, Pride or Women's History Month. Salesforce is always there and showing how strongly they support every single person and group in their community.  This was most apparent to me on the MLK march last year. As I walked down the street with the other marchers, I looked to my left and saw our Co-CEO, and I looked to the right and saw another Salesforce President, both marching with everyone else. Taking the time to do this shows the how deeply our commitment to community and giving really is." – Darrin Underwood, Salesforce global on-boarding enablement manager, San Jose, Calif.

 

"In 2016, I had a fateful run-in with an Australian tourist, and that eventually turned into a (very, very) long-distance relationship. After a year and a half of dating, we decided I'd move from Indianapolis to Australia. As Salesforce employee of several years, I was terrified at the thought of giving up my career for love. However, with the help of incredibly supportive managers on both sides and our amazing immigration partners, Salesforce sponsored my move to Australia  – so I could keep BOTH of my loves! I'm forever grateful to Salesforce for making my story happen, and it's very unlikely I would have been able to stay with my partner if it hadn't been for their support." – Maggie Thistleton, Salesforce web producer, Melbourne, Australia

 

"I joined Salesforce a little over a year ago and cannot begin to articulate how grateful I am for this opportunity. I've grown immensely both personally and professionally, and feel SO thankful for the journey that I'm on. The breadth of experience, wisdom, and diversity I've been exposed to has shaped me for the better." – Emma Calderon, Salesforce senior analyst, Chicago

 

Trailblazers from left: Keiko Niimi and Nana Gregg

 

"I studied mechanical engineering and only started learning Salesforce when I was thrown into a sales engineer role. Between everything I have learned through Trailhead and all the new experiences the Trailblazer Community has encouraged me to pursue, I have created an exciting new career path I could never have imagined before. Thank you Salesforce for helping me find a family, become a leader, and blaze my trail to a new and exciting career stage." – Keiko Niimi, HR recruiter, USE, Inc., Tokyo

 

"You set out to build a company to deliver software as a service. Which you have done. And done well. But the best thing you built, the thing that moves mountains, is the Salesforce Ohana. I am so grateful for this platform and the Trailblazer Community that has helped me build an incredible career, and an Ohana that has lifted me up through the toughest of times, including a tornado that wiped out my family's home." – Nana Gregg, VP Senior Salesforce Admin, JLL, Dallas

Tony Prophet, Salesforce Chief Equality Officer
 
 
"I am incredibly grateful to work at a company that puts Equality at the forefront -- with so many passionate Equality trailblazers and allies who have inspired and taught me so much on my own journey. This is a truly special community and company — I believe we  are the people who can lead the change in our industry and be part of a movement changing our world. " – Tony Prophet, Salesforce Chief Equality Officer
 
 

It's been an amazing 20 years! Going forward, we have much more we want to accomplish. In the next 20 years, it will be our values — trust, customer success, innovation, and equality — that lead us down the right path as we continue to be a platform for change and a beacon of light for all our Ohana and Trailblazers. Together, we will work to ensure that the business of business is to make the world a better place.

We're hiring across the globe. Join our team today!

Stephanie Lottridge and Jeff Elder contributed to this article.