By Jennifer LeClaire / CIO Today. Updated March 17, 2014.
Salesforce.com is expanding its wings with new strategic investments in Europe -- and a board member with global recognition. General Colin Powell has signed on to the CRM company’s board of directors.
Powell officially joined the Salesforce.com board on March 13. That brings the size of the board to 11 members. Other board members include former PeoplesSoft CEO Craig Conway, Hasbro Director Alan Hassenfeld, Yahoo Chairman Maynard Webb, and former HP senior vice president and treasurer Larry Tomlinson.
“We are honored and delighted that General Powell has joined our board of directors,” said Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of salesforce.com. “General Powell is an extraordinary leader who has inspired and influenced me during more than 15 years of friendship. He was also instrumental in shaping Salesforce.com’s integrated philanthropic model and the formation of the Salesforce.com Foundation many years ago. We couldn’t be happier to have him join our board.”
Recently, Salesforce announced plans to add more than 500 new jobs in Europe in response to record revenue growth and customer momentum in Europe. The company also plans to open new data centers in the U.K., France and Germany.
Known the world over, Powell is a retired four-star general. He served in the United States Army for 35 years and went on to serve as U.S. National Security Advisor, Commander of the U.S. Army Forces Command, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was also the 65th Secretary of State of the United States under President George W. Bush.
Powell’s reputation speaks for itself. He’s won a number of U.S. military awards, as well as two Presidential Medals of Freedom. But he also has business experience that is relevant to Salesforce.com. For example, Powell is a strategic limited partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and a member of the board of directors of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Powell is also chairman of the board of Visitors of the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership at his alma mater, the City College of New York (CCNY). The Powell School was inaugurated May of 2013. Finally, Powell is founder and chairman emeritus of the America’s Promise Alliance, which works to help provide children with much-needed resources.
“After many years of friendship with Marc and admiration for salesforce.com, I am excited to be joining the company’s board of directors,” said Powell. “In addition to being on the forefront of innovation, salesforce.com has been a remarkable leader, and has inspired many other companies, as it has made philanthropy a central part of its value system.”
We caught up with Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research, to get his take on Powell joining Salesforce.com’s board of directors. He told us Powell is an inspirational figure and a strong personality to include on the board. How much influence he will have on the company remains to be seen.
“The board plays an important role in determining strategy, but ultimately it’s still Benioff that makes the decisions,” Kerravala said. “Powell brings a lot of credibility to the government business. Salesforce could probably use his name to enter markets where they haven’t had as much business.”
Salesforce does have other government types on the board, including John Roos, former U.S. Ambassador to Japan. But, to Kerravala’s point, Powell could open doors in the government through which Salesforce hasn’t yet walked.