Meet Salesforce’s New General Counsel: Todd Machtmes
As a 16 year Salesforce veteran, Todd Machtmes has been a part of some of the company’s biggest and most influential milestones. He joined in 2005, just a year after the company went public and has been a vital part of the legal department ever since. He’s helped guide Salesforce through its tremendous growth and provided counsel on some of the company’s most transformational sales deals. Todd is stepping into the role of General Counsel as Amy Weaver, formerly Chief Legal Officer, assumes the role of CFO upon Mark Hawkins’ retirement
We sat down (virtually, of course) with Todd to discuss his new role and learn more about how the legal team at Salesforce supports the company’s core values of Trust, Customer Success, Innovation and Equality.
Q. You’ve been at Salesforce for quite some time, can you share a little bit about your journey?
I started as an individual contributor focused on commercial legal. At that time we were a much smaller company and everyone in the legal department worked on sales transactions. Over time, I took on more and more responsibility within the commercial legal group, which included all the company’s revenue activities. And this eventually grew to include the corporate and product marketing and procurement legal functions.
Q. Did you always know you wanted to be a lawyer?
I did not. I loved school because I really love to learn, and that’s how I ended up in law school. I wanted to continue learning and and I was drawn to a legal education, specifically, because of the focus on logic and critical thinking skills.
Q. GCs play an influential role in an organization. Can you shed light on the importance of the GC role?
The role itself is critical in helping guide the company, specifically with regards to compliance, responding to different issues and the variety of legal matters that come with an increasingly complex global environment. But to be influential, that depends on how you conduct yourself within the role. The general counsel that offers solutions and demonstrates an understanding of the business imperatives of the company, within the industry and globally, those are the GCs that become influential.
Q. It can be rare these days to stay at a company for as long as you have been at Salesforce, what keeps you at the company?
I’ve seen a tremendous amount of change during my time at Salesforce and, in those years, a tremendous amount of growth — the number of employees and products as well as the complexity of our customers’ needs and the regulatory landscape. The one thing that hasn’t changed is the company’s commitment to its values. Salesforce’s commitment to its values, its people, its customers, to all of its stakeholders, is what I believe is fundamental to our success and what has kept me here.
Q. How specifically do you envision the legal team delivering on Salesforce’s values of Trust, Customer Success, Innovation and Equality?
Our values are core to what we do. Trust is not only our number one value, but the backbone of the compliance, ethics and integrity functions of our business. And there’s a direct line from compliance and how we behave as an ethical company to the trust we have with our stakeholders.
When it comes to Customer Success, our commercial and product legal teams for example are laser focused on the success of our customers every single day, ensuring that we deliver on our brand promise.
I see Innovation, in many ways, as where customer success starts. Whether it’s supporting product development specifically or more broadly helping solve business problems across the company, we are acutely focused on finding solutions that enable the company to innovate.
And when it comes to Equality, we’re very proud of the work we’ve done in support of the company’s equality efforts. For example we’ve championed equality focused positions on laws in places like Indiana and Georgia; supported the company on issues around equal pay; and authored or signed on to amicus briefs to protect programs like DACA.
Q. What are the attributes of a great legal department?
Apart from helping ensure a company is meeting its legal obligations, the fundamental role of a lawyer is to find a way to help solve a business problem. Can all business problems be solved? No. But, if you can understand what the business objective is, there’s usually a way to achieve that objective and that’s where having a great legal department is key to a successful company.
Q. Are there initiatives or projects at Salesforce that you are particularly proud of?
Early on in my tenure, we were about to sign our largest sales deal ever with a significant global financial institution. It was the type of deal that would make us a bonafide global enterprise business and mark a turning point for the company. I remember Marc [Benioff] calling me towards the end of it, and us discussing whether we should do the deal. And the answer was yes, we should, because it would be a truly transformational moment for the company. I’m proud of having been a part of it.
Q. What is something you are looking forward to in 2022?
The past year has taught me about balance. Before the pandemic, I would be in the office every single day. I realized that was out of balance for me. But I’ve also learned in all of this that working from home everyday is also out of balance for me. So I’m looking forward to incorporating the best parts of both into a new routine when we’re able to get back into the office.
Q. As we look ahead to what’s in store for Salesforce this year, what are you focused on?
Our position as a values based company is an important part of our success, so continuing to live up to those values is always going to be a business imperative. I’m fortunate to take leadership of an excellent team that’s already serving its stakeholders incredibly well. This means I can focus on the challenges ahead that come with our growing prominence and what we need to do to achieve our goal of $50 billion in revenue.