2003: Steve Jobs Inspired the Salesforce "AppExchange"

Had a nice chat with my former co-worker Steve Gillmor at the Rackspace party last week. I told him about how we are trying to document the people/processes that are “denting the future.” Steve’s new gig is at Salesforce, and he informed me that Marc Benioff and Steve Jobs were close, and that Jobs had mentored Benioff.

With that information, I am now hunting online for examples of any advice Jobs proffered to Benioff. Here is a nice instance.

This Bloomberg video interview with Marc Benioff talks about Benioff’s “special relationship” with Jobs and how Jobs advised Benioff to do more than simply create a platform. He pushed Benioff to create (and own) a complete ecosystem.

Note how Benioff wisely took it to the level of owning the term “App Store”.

And one really good – good example of that is – happened in around 2003. And I went down to talk to him and brought a few members of my executive team with us. And he said something really exciting. He goes, “Look, you’ve got a fantastic enterprise application here, but you’ve got to build an ecosystem.” So to us, we went back and we were like, “Well, we don’t know how to do that.” That was like a zen co-on (ph). How do we build an ecosystem?

So we designed this whole technology that we called App Store, which was the ability to basically buy these apps and run them in Salesforce. And when we launched it we actually called it AppExchange, and you can see it at AppExchange.com. But we like the App Store name so much that we bought the URL and we trademarked it. And then I was in the audience when he announced App Store. And I went up to him and I said, “I have a gift for you. I’m going to give you the trademark and the URL because of the help you gave me in 2003.”