In a bid to secure their position as masters of the data-visualization universe, San Francisco-based Salesforce has recently announced their intention to expand their Israeli research and development operations. While the cloud company already had an established presence in the Promised Land, they have plans for cultivating an overseas hub for the development of strategic solutions in artificial intelligence, big data and cybersecurity.
“For our customers, it is a statement that we are here to stay, and reassures the Israeli market that we are here to deliver a better service and with much more manpower,” Olivier Elbaz, Salesforce senior regional vice president, said in a recent interview with an Israeli newspaper. “Combining the three pillars of artificial intelligence, marketing and analytics through data, and security will deliver innovation for our hundreds of thousands of customers around the world.”
Founded in 1999 by Marc Benoit and Parker Harris, Salesforce specializes in customer relationship software and is used by over 150,000 companies spanning the globe. This is the company’s first base of operations in the Middle East and they have made several Israeli-based acquisitions in recent years – most notably, their August 2018 attainment of Datorama for $850 million and their June 2019 $15.7 billion purchase of Tableau.
The company’s venture capital arm has also invested in several startups in the state, including capital contributions to logistics platform provider Bringg; fraud prevention software company Forter; and visual support specialists TechSee. There is much to be said about setting up shop amongst God’s chosen people and Salesforce is definitely not alone.
Many of the top tech firms have invested in building up business in the Mediterranean country, including Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Apple. When asked about the decision to develop R&D facilities in country, Facebook Israel’s CEO Adi Soffer Teeni shared her thoughts. “There’s amazing talent here. Multinationals come here with great R&D [centers] and recruit people with a very innovative way of thinking,” she said.
Intel set up operations in Israel over forty years ago and Roy Ramon, managing director for Intel’s Ingenuity Partner Program, is a keen admirer of the culture. He points to their “chutzpah” – a Yiddish word to describe self-confidence or audacity – as one of the biggest selling points for doing business in the country.
“The reason I started the startup program is because when you [a corporate] meet with a company in Israel, they come in and tell engineers that they’re doing it all wrong,” he said. “They push everything off the table. These engineers have been doing this for years. They’re world experts. And yet that startup is bold enough to come to a mammoth like Intel and say you’re doing it wrong. This is one culture that you can’t get anywhere in the world.”
Elbaz also announced that they will soon be launching a local Salesforce “university” to train Israeli-based employees on how to use their platform. The programs will be available in Hebrew and offered at a lower cost point than contracted alternatives. By leveraging the local talent pool and providing education on utilizing their technology, the CRM software company is hoping to contribute to the creation of 3.3 million cloud-based jobs within their client base projected by 2022.
“We’re going to grow the ecosystem, which means our stakeholders – our customers, partners and Salesforce – will benefit from a university in order to train their people,” Elbaz said. “We’ll be able to take special communities, such as the ultra-Orthodox, Israeli-Arabs and the Russian immigrant community, and be able to teach them and train them in Salesforce. We want to grow, and we want to do good at the same time.”