A conversation with Lidiane Jones about the future of Slack
In a burst of activity late last year, Salesforce announced that co-CEO Bret Taylor was stepping down. Shortly after, Slack co-founder and CEO Stewart Butterfield announced his exit. We would soon learn that her replacement would be Lidiane Jones, who at the time was GM of Commerce Cloud, Marketing Cloud and Experience Cloud at Salesforce.
While Jones essentially ran the entire B2C business with this title, she was relatively unknown in the industry. Still, she brought with her a depth of experience that included more than a dozen years at Microsoft and nearly four years at Sonos, which helped her gain a deep understanding of software and product development.
Granted, she found herself in a tough spot replacing a beloved founder-CEO, while trying to find ways to bridge the gap between Salesforce and Slack. At the same time these executives were leaving, Salesforce as a company was dealing with a slew of activist investors. One of their biggest complaints was the lack of integration between core Salesforce products and the company’s costly acquisitions over the past few years.
Of these, Slack was by far the most expensive at $28 billion. The hope was to bring the platform into the fold and make it the communication layer for the entire Salesforce family of products. Salesforce has so far made some integrations between the two platforms but not enough to satisfy critics.
At the same time, Jones still has to protect Slack’s independence because it can’t be seen to be so tightly integrated with Salesforce that it can’t operate outside of the ecosystem.
No one said the job was going to be easy.
TechCrunch+ recently caught up with Jones at the Salesforce offices in Boston to discuss how her transition is going so far and the challenges she’s facing as she dives into her job.
Shortly before Jones became CEO, The Information published an exposé suggesting the relationship between the two companies had been damaged. The report also said that Marc Benioff and Butterfield butted heads, the deal was Taylor’s baby, and with Taylor and Butterfield gone, Benioff was less interested in it, a point Jones now disputes.