Aug 10, 2021 - Economy & Business

Exclusive: Salesforce enters the streaming wars

Salesforce+ logo on a theater stage.
Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Salesforce is the latest tech giant to venture into video streaming with the launch of a new service aimed at business professionals called Salesforce+, the company's chief marketing officer Sarah Franklin tells Axios.

Why it matters: The service is part of a greater effort to transition Salesforce's marketing approach from paid customer acquisition to owned and operated media.

  • Franklin says the hope is that the content will help people refine their skills, while also creating an emotional connection to Salesforce, driving users to "want to use our products and want to engage more with us."

Details: Salesforce+, which will debut globally during Salesforce's annual mega-conference Dreamforce in September, is a free service that will feature original programming from Salesforce and eventually, content created by its clients.

  • The content will be available on-demand 24/7, but it will also feature live event programming, starting with Dreamforce.
  • The company has hired around 50 editorial leads to help launch the service, including script writers and broadcast producers. It plans to fill many more editorial roles in the months to come as it builds up its programming slate.
  • More broadly, there are hundreds of people at Salesforce currently working on Salesforce+ across marketing, product, and digital departments.
  • For now, Franklin says the company has no plans to sell ads around the content or charge for it. "We'll measure success by free subscribers and viewership," she says. It will launch with a sizable amount of paid promotion in September.

Salesforce has built its own in-house studio, Salesforce Studios, to film and produce the content, which will feature stories that Franklin says are meant to be entertaining and inspirational at the same time.

  • "It's going to help you learn things that help you do great at your job, whether you're a salesperson, a marketing professional, a CEO, etc.," Franklin says.
  • While Salesforce plans to create the bulk of the content at launch, it hopes to eventually build a platform for professional content from its clients.
  • "We see an incredible opportunity to have community-submitted content and series," Franklin says, noting that Salesforce will review all of the content on its service. "We can provide some production quality and oversight approvals."

Salesforce has produced 6 original series that will debut at launch. Some programs, like “Leading Through Change” and “The Inflection Point,” highlight work and challenges faced by corporate leaders. Others, like “Boss Talks” and “Simply Put,” will focus on professional growth and building business skills.

  • It will also launch four "broadcast channels," or channels that include live programming from its events, with more than 100 hours of content.

Be smart: There's clearly a market for professional development content, but because Salesforce+ serves as a marketing vehicle for Salesforce, it's unclear whether Salesforce will be able to tap into that zeitgeist.

The big picture: Salesforce isn't the first marketing technology firm to move in this direction and it won't be the last.

  • HubSpot, a publicly-traded marketing software company, bought The Hustle, a newsletter company targeted at entrepreneurs, for $27 million earlier this year.
  • TheSkimm is eyeing a sale to a non-media company, including potentially a financial services firm keen on attracting younger women as customers.

What's next: The service will be available for free anywhere on the web in September. It will launch as a standalone streaming app soon after.

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