A timely reality check (although I’m not sure Salesforce.com-as-sustainable-platform is reality at this point)
Both Salesforce and Facebook started out as rather handy Web-based services for keeping track of contacts. And both have realized that these lists of people, and the underlying technology to manage them, can be central to a lot of different problems that their customers may want to solve. So both are now turning into “platforms” on which other companies can create and run a wide range of applications.
“We came into this by accident,” Mr. Benioff said. “We did not start the company as a platform company.” But he said that the process of creating one program that serves customers turns out to be a great way to build a more flexible environment. Other programs, like Lotus Notes and Microsoft Excel, evolved in a similar way. Even Microsoft Windows was first an add-on application for Microsoft DOS.
“All platforms started as killer apps,” Mr. Benioff said.