"In terms of mar tech, they're realizing that's a maturing market. There are only so many emails that can be sent," Kihn said. "The next frontier is probably commerce."
3. Company CEO Marc Benioff himself appears to have very little interest in advertising. In public comments, Benioff often describes Salesforce as a "customer" company.
On the other hand, Salesforce is hugely invested in marketing, to the tune of $3 billion in M&A plus significant expenditures post-acquisition. Its core components are email marketing and social advertising. And its Active Audiences solution lets Salesforce users apply known customer information to reach their customers in digital channels via Journey Builder. It also has a significant foothold in B2B marketing automation via its Pardot product. The company isn't about to walk away from those investments.
"There's no piece of what they have that's any less important than any other piece, even though some are cash cows," said Paul Greenberg, owner of management consultant The 56 Group and an adviser to Salesforce. "As far as the marketing piece goes, it took them a long time to get where they're going."
And while the company's interest in paid media has largely focused on social, "people-based" ads to the exclusion of higher-funnel channels ("It's very much this CRM version of advertising," Kihn says), its social ad presence is huge. Salesforce is the No. 1 partner to Facebook's Custom Audiences first-party data matching program.
Stutz will certainly maintain these investments in the short term.
According to Greenberg, Stutz is hugely admired in the CRM world, and may have the organizational chops to tightly integrate Marketing Cloud with Sales Cloud, Service Cloud and all the other products in Salesforce's cloud city. "It takes guys like Bob to take a teenage product and make it mature," Greenberg said.
The question for many observers in the advertising sector is whether Salesforce will extend its investment in paid media beyond known customers to reach more unknown prospects high in the purchase funnel. Recent developments offer no reason to think so.