Whether you use it daily or have heard about it from 10 of your closest friends, you're likely well aware of Salesforce. The behemoth CRM has become a multibillion-dollar industry leader; unsurprisingly, its founder and CEO, Marc Benioff, is seen by some as the "champion of innovation." Salesforce is built to integrate with other apps -- a fact developers are encouraged to take advantage of -- and Benioff backs tech companies with his own money.
Benioff's wagers beyond Salesforce have proved fruitful. These are the 20 investments Benioff has made that are currently among the most successful.
Subscription box services have become more popular in recent years, meaning these companies need software to help them manage their increased order volume. Zuora has not only curated a list of customers that includes several top brands, but it also recently purchased Leeyo, a revenue recognition platform.
As news headlines have proven, cybersecurity has become an increasingly large challenge for businesses to tackle. However, automated threat monitoring could make the task a bit easier for them, and Illumio is among the companies gaining attention for this technology -- the business earned a billion-dollar valuation in 2017.
AnyRoad specializes in experience relationship management (ERM), which is essentially a CRM for the real world. The brand's software helps businesses leverage data from real-life brand experiences and empowers companies like Honda, Diageo, and the Golden State Warriors to measure shifts in brand perception and purchase behavior, enabling them to establish deeper relationships with their fans.
Technology is seeping into every industry, including logistics, and Convoy offers cutting-edge trucking technology. The software company, which provides real-time shipment management, signed a multiyear partnership with Anheuser-Busch in 2017.
Consumers can function as their own information-gathering real estate agents, thanks to apps like Compass. The real estate brokerage reported revenue of more than $180 million in 2016, just three short years after it launched.
After its purchase by Nutanix in 2016, PernixData continued to expand the market for its virtual server-side flash memory. While the space has plenty of competition, PernixData's write caching and clustering set it apart.
No stranger to competition in the wide videoconferencing arena, Highfive is elbowing its way out of the pack. One feature that sets it apart is its ability to now be deployed directly from a user's browser.
8. Thrive Global
Founded by Arianna Huffington, Thrive Global is focused on individual and workplace wellness and provides science-based content and tools to reduce stress. After raising $30 million in Series B funding in 2017, the company partnered with Times Bridge to venture into the Indian market.
With more than $63 million in funding, Duetto has grabbed attention in the hotel revenue strategy sphere. A new partnership with GuestCentric stands to push the software platform to the next level, allowing hotels to customize pricing in real time based on a customer's past behaviors.
Believing coding is a big part of the youngest generation's future, Kano makes the process of learning to code fun for children through kits. The company raised $28 million in Series B funding in 2017, which it put toward releasing its products to retail outlets.
Gigster aims to provide businesses with the tools they need to innovate using artificial intelligence. The software development recruiting platform, which connects freelance developers, designers, and project managers to companies needing on-demand project work, recently landed a Series B funding round that put its total capital investments at $32 million.
Among the acquisitions grabbing headlines in 2017 was Forcepoint's purchase of RedOwl, which followed at least $21 million raised in venture capital. RedOwl's specialty is software that detects unusual activity on users' systems.
Vicarious' advanced AI, designed to improve robotics, has earned the company investments from Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, in addition to Benioff. Among its most recent innovations is technology to improve the CAPTCHA process.
14. Rainforest QA
With revenue growth of more than 1,500 percent over two years, Rainforest QA's success has proven that quality assurance testing is a field in strong demand. The QA-as-a-Service platform recently raised $25 million to expand its AI-fueled testing.
Competing in the crowded ride-sharing market can be tough, but airport ride company Wingz strives to beat Uber and Lyft by promising to undercut prices, even during high-demand times. A 2016 purchase by Expedia gave the company a welcome boost, bringing its total funding to $13.7 million.
Domo's SaaS-based platform helps business leaders transform the way they manage business through direct access to data. The company was named to the 2017 Inc. 500 after growing more than twentyfold in three years.
Marketing localization company Cloudwords kicked off in 2010 with $3 million in seed funding, including Benioff's investment. In April 2017, the global marketing campaign solution partnered with translation productivity startup Lilt.
After Tibco purchased Mashery from Intel in 2015, the API management company continued to grow, with Gartner repeatedly naming it a leader in full life-cycle API management.
19. Kyriba Japan
Specializing in next-generation financial management and cloud treasury software, Kyriba Japan recently launched a module dedicated to detecting and stopping fraud as it's attempted.
It can be difficult for busy consumers to sift through the news for the pieces most relevant to their lives, but Nuzzel makes it easier. News items are curated from a user's social network, which now includes LinkedIn.
Marc Benioff's eye for business means his investments signal the technologies consumers and businesses need to watch. These innovations are proof that Benioff has his finger on the pulse of the software space, and that's likely to continue as he looks for new ventures to support.