Salesforce expands market

Salesforce.com Inc., (CRM), purchased closely held Sendia Corp. for $15 million, bringing Salesforce’s over-the-Internet software applications to handheld computing devices.

Salesforce Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff led a very enthusiastic lunch meeting to announce the news on Tuesday with approximately 200 customers, partners, industry analysts, financial analysts and media. Benioff spoke at a near shout as he discussed the acquisition at the standing-room-only luncheon at Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco.

“We’ve been working on this for nearly a year and something that has really surprised us is that there are not more applications on small portable devices like there are on the browser,” said Benioff. “We’ve always asked, ‘Why aren’t there more mobile business applications?’”

With the acquisition of Sendia of Santa Monica, Salesforce.com’s newest product, AppExchange, launched in January, becomes AppExchange Mobile, usable from any mobile device such as the Treo, BlackBerry or Sidekick. The mobile version comes free with the AppExchange Unlimited Edition or can be purchased as an upgrade to other editions for $50 per user per month.

Alex Klyce, former CEO of Sendia, now senior vice president and general manager of AppExchange Mobile gave a product demonstration with his new boss.

“Things are getting a little bit heady so lets talk about what this thing can really do,” said Klyce.

“Things never get heady when I give presentations,” joked Benioff. “You’ll learn that as a member of the new Salesforce family.”
Klyce demonstrated how AppExchange Mobile works with the same design and information on boththe portable device and the PC. When the mobile device makes a call, AppExchange Mobile automatically logs that activity into the program. The user does not have to update information on both devices. AppExchange does it automatically.

“People are looking for data that matters when they put it on their belt,” said Jim Balsillie, chief executive officer of Research in Motion Ltd (RIMM), maker of the BlackBerry, speaking via videoconference. “It’s not only a convenience thing, it’s an immediacy thing.”

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