1 month, 1 day ago

How Salesforce Built Its Platform Business

Link: https://cisr.mit.edu/publication/MIT_CISRwp462_SalesforcePlatformBusiness_MockerSebastian


In 2023, Salesforce was the provider of the CRM system with the biggest market share. Besides providing a CRM software product, the company also offered an external developer platform called Salesforce Platform. Salesforce Platform enabled CRM customers to customize their CRM system and allowed partners (third-party developers) to develop cloud apps that could be distributed via Salesforce’s AppExchange marketplace. Since its official launch in 2008, Salesforce Platform had become a major revenue contributor for the company, including from over 7,000 apps in AppExchange.

Building a successful platform business extended far beyond building a technology platform to nurturing an entire ecosystem around it. Based on interviews with twelve executives, this case study illustrates what it takes for a product company to build a platform business—developing and scaling the business model, engineering the technology platform, growing a vivid community of developers, and marketing and selling the platform—and how Salesforce addressed related challenges.

Publication date:

Publication type: Working Paper, Case Study

Publication authors:
Martin Mocker
Ina M. Sebastian