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
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
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.