Marc Benioff, chief executive officer of Salesforce.com Inc., right, greets attendees after a keynote at the company’s Dreamforce conference in San Francisco on Sept. 12, 2023. Benioff said new product features, including those powered by artificial intelligence, will be demonstrated at the company’s annual conference in September.
Marlena Sloss | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Ariel Kelman had been away from Salesforce for over a decade, when he received a direct message on Twitter from CEO Marc Benioff in early April. Benioff wanted to know if the marketing executive, who’d had leadership roles at Amazon Web Services and Oracle since leaving Salesforce, was ready to come back.
“I just thought it was good timing,” Kelman said in an interview at Salesforce’s Dreamforce conference in San Francisco last week. Kelman spent the few months prior running marketing at a startup called Fireblocks before rejoining Salesforce in June as chief marketing officer.
“This is a company that I had a great time at,” he said.
Miguel Milano, who led sales in major international markets for Salesforce for over a decade, also returned in June with the title of chief revenue officer. Milano was lured back by Salesforce operating chief Brian Millham, who spent some of his vacation in Madrid talking his former colleague into rejoining after three years at startup Celonis.
“It took a couple swipes,” Millham said at Dreamforce.
Kelman and Milano are among at least eight ex-Salesforce execs who have rejoined the gang in 2023, as the company approaches its 25th birthday. Benioff, who saw co-CEO Bret Taylor depart early this year after just a year sharing the top job, is turning to more of the old guard to help drive Salesforce through a challenging economy and an era of slowing growth.
Prior to the tech downdraft that started in 2022, Salesforce was feasting on large acquisitions, shelling out about $50 billion in total for MuleSoft, Tableau and Slack between 2018 and 2021.
Having placed those big bets to fuel sales growth and expansion into new markets, Salesforce is trying to make the most of what it has, refining its sales approach and becoming more reliant on its own products.
During Dreamforce, which drew over 40,000 people to its hometown, the company hosted an event for 50 former employees who were given designated seats at the show and custom swag, such as a stuffed animal wearing a yellow shirt with an illustration of a multicolored boomerang. Current executives were there to greet them,…