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                                    Friday, September 02, 2016

                                    Salesforce.com Less Exciting, More Incredible, Amazing

                                    Salesforce.com released its second quarter earnings this week, followed by its quarterly earnings call. To provide a deeper analysis of the state of Salesforce.com’s business, we are pleased to release our SFDC Superlative Index™ for the latest quarter.

                                    Developed by the Enterprise System Spectator, the SFDC Superlative Index is a proprietary metric that quantifies the enthusiasm of Salesforce.com’s executives, by counting the number of superlatives used in their quarterly earnings calls and analyzing the changes in their use of these superlatives over time. Our proprietary list of 12 superlatives currently includes: exciting, incredible, huge, amazing, outstanding, terrific, awesome, phenomenal, fantastic, tremendous, extraordinary, and spectacular.

                                    Dramatic Decline in Superlatives

                                    Salesforce executives used tracked superlatives only 71 times in their conference call this quarter. This is a significant drop from the 97 tracked superlatives used in the previous quarter, which was the highest number over the prior five quarters.

                                    After the call, Salesforce.com’s share price fell sharply in trading overnight and the next day. Many analysts attributed the decline in the share price to the firm’s revised forward guidance and the level of new bookings. But we attribute it mostly to Salesforce executives' declining enthusiasm, as shown in Figure 1.


                                    Analyzing the individual superlatives that make up the Index provides deeper insights.

                                    Excitement Takes a Hit

                                    SFDC executives appear to be losing excitement, using the word "excited/exciting" only 14 times in the most recent earnings call, less than half the number of times used in the previous quarter, as shown in Figure 2.

                                    Nevertheless, CEO Marc Benioff reported that he was “so excited and …  everyone in Salesforce is so excited” about the firm’s new artificial intelligence platform, Einstein.”

                                    He was also enthusiastic about the firm’s recent acquisitions of Demandware and Quip. “But it's been an incredible time for us to acquire some phenomenal assets and I have never been more excited about Salesforce and our product line and coming into Dreamforce, like I said is, just awesome.”

                                    Yet, new deals failing to close before the end of the quarter seemed to take a little off the edge of Benioff’s excitement. “So there [are] a lot of exciting things coming for Dreamforce, and nobody likes to see softness in any particular region…. Like I said, we really saw some great growth and deal flow in the United States, but we did get a bit of softness at the very end of the quarter,” he said.

                                    For his part, any softness at the end of the quarter didn’t seem to dampen the enthusiasm of COO Keith Block, who was still excited to be part of Salesforce.com. “As you know over three years ago Marc and I had many many conversations about coming onto Salesforce which I was super excited about and I continue to be super excited about being here.”


                                    Nevertheless, Business Is Increasingly Incredible and Amazing

                                    The decline in excitement, however, was partially offset by an increase in the use of the superlatives “incredible” and “amazing.” In fact, “incredible” took the top spot from “exciting” this quarter, with “amazing” jumping into the number two spot, as shown in Figure 2.

                                    These two superlatives were especially pronounced in Benioff’s comments about recent acquisitions.
                                    “And as you know, over the last few years we have acquired a number of AI companies. Incredible companies like RelateIQ, MetaMind, Implisit, PredictionIO, Tempo AI and more with amazing, amazing people and technology. We have been able to stitch all this together into this incredible AI platform and this focus on AI and on the critical aspects of AI as the next wave of our industry has resulted in a machine learning team of more than 175 data scientists who have built this amazing Einstein platform. And that’s really why I am so excited and why everyone in Salesforce is so excited.
                                    He continued, “It's been an incredible time for us to acquire some phenomenal assets; and I have never been more excited about Salesforce and our product line. And coming into Dreamforce, like I said is, just awesome.”

                                    In response to an analyst question, even the normally-reserved CFO, Mark Hawkins, shared some of Benioff’s enthusiasm for recent acquisitions. “By the way, I just want to call out, we are super pleased to have Demandware,” he said. “It's just an exciting [acquisition], adding functionality and a unique asset, as Marc called out, that we are super happy to have.”

                                    Of course, nothing generates enthusiasm like the firm’s annual user conference, Dreamforce. Benioff said:
                                    We have never been better positioned for the future. You are going to see that at Dreamforce. It is going to be a rush of innovation. There has never been more new products and more capabilities released at Dreamforce, and you are never going to see a better place to see how all this amazing innovation and products comes together. This is our biggest customer event of the year. Coming very very soon, October 4 through 7. We have got more than 2300 customer speakers inspiring, motivating, empowering, educating our amazing community of customer trailblazers. We also have an amazing lineup of speakers including Melinda Gates, and General Motors' Mary Barra, Congressman John Lewis, and many many more.
                                    Benioff also advised the financial analysts that they were "not going to want to miss" the band U2, which would be performing at Dreamforce, adding, "It's going to be an unforgettable event." 

                                    Rounding out the top five superlatives, SFDC executives went even further in describing developments during the quarter, using words such as huge (6 times) and phenomenal (3 times).

                                    For a complete transcript of SFDC's recap of its incredible, amazing, and exciting quarter, check out the full transcript on Seeking Alpha.

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