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Surprising Science

Marc Benioff: Disruption Expert

Harvard Professor Clayton Christensen has developed a new way to spot companies making bold bets for the future. At the top of his list of today’s business invotators is Marc Benioff. 

What’s the Latest Development?

Marc Benioff is the multibillionaire co-founder of which sells business software in the cloud. Lately he has been spending a lot of time with budding entrepreneurs, hoping to catch a glimpse of what comes next. Perhaps it is no surprise that he sees social networking as a the most distinguishable feature in the business landscape, bringing it to a host of new industries. “When Toyota Chief Akio Toyoda visited, Benioff told him his cars should be linked to social networks. Look for it in Toyota’s electric and hybrid cars, starting next year.”

What’s the Big Idea?

Benioff is a disrupter in the classic Clay Christensen sense, a Harvard professor who’s trade is looking for innovative businesses: ”By bringing business software to the Web—an idea ridiculed a decade ago—Benioff upended Siebel Systems (later acquired by Oracle Systems) and built a company on track to reach sales of $2 billion in fiscal 2012, ending Jan. 31. Its ‘innovation premium’ of 73% earns Salesforce the top spot on the list of the world’s most innovative companies. Meanwhile, the industry is following Benioff’s lead in taking software from disparate servers inside companies to the cloud.”


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