Activist investor Elliott looks at Salesforce

Marc Benioff, founder and CEO of Salesforce. Photo: Marlena Sloss/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

Activist investor Elliott Management has built a multi-billion dollar position in cloud software giant Salesforce, as first reported by The Wall Street Journal and confirmed by Axios with a source familiar with the matter.

Why is this important: Elliott usually wants substantial changes in the companies he targets, and he almost always gets what he wants.

  • A recent high-profile example was Twitter, where Elliott wanted to oust Jack Dorsey as CEO.
  • Other big tech companies Elliott has been involved with include Pinterest, Citrix and AT&T.

The big picture: Salesforce is the world’s largest software-as-a-service (SaaS) company, but has seen its stock price drop around 50% since its November 2021 high.

  • Recent challenges have included slow growth, significant layoffs and the departure of co-CEO Bret Taylor.
  • Taylor is the second co-CEO of Salesforce to leave, after not quite meeting company founder Marc Benioff. He was also the driving force behind major Salesforce acquisitions such as Slack and Tableau, where cultural integration proved difficult.

What they say : Elliott had not yet released details of its intentions, but managing partner Jesse Cohn issued the following statement:

  • “Salesforce is one of the world’s leading software companies, and after following the company for nearly two decades, we have developed a deep respect for Marc Benioff and what he has built. We look forward to working from constructively with Salesforce to realize the value worthy of a company of its stature.”
  • Salesforce did not immediately return Axios’ request for comment.

Thought bubble: There are only a few companies big enough to even attempt a Salesforce takeover, and they would all face stiff antitrust scrutiny. But that doesn’t mean they won’t try now that Elliott is in the picture.

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