Getting inside Salesforce’s social acquisition strategy; interview of CEO of $340 million Radian6

Marcel Lebrun, CEO of Radian6

Yesterday was Marcel LeBrun’s first day working for Salesforce. His company, Radian6, was just acquired for $340 million (Techcrunch reported it was $326, but LeBrun told me that was wrong and that $340 was the correct number).

By a fun coincidence last night I was hanging out with Empire Avenue and Seagate execs at the Ritz firepits — you can see a Photosynth I made last night with my iPhone of that area here — when I got a phone call from JP Rangaswami, Salesforce’s Chief Scientist. He said “look up” and I saw him standing in a window. That led to meeting Marcel for this interview where he gave me insights as to what Marc Benioff is up to with a group of acquisitions (JP just hired Kevin Marks) and JP told me they are planning other big hires.

We discussed several things in this 19-minute interview:

1. Where Radian6 will be used inside Salesforce Chatter (at Rackspace we’ve decided to use Chatter as our main “at work” social feed, so I’m interested as a customer). He says that Radian6 will let employees bring outside feedback right into their social feed. For instance, an employee at a car company could say “I want to see any Tweet that talks about buying one of our products” and those tweets would show up on their social feed inside Chatter.
2. Advice for entrepreneurs who want to follow Marcel and build a company that is valued at $340 million and what the impulse was for him to start Radian6.
3. Just how much the market has changed (the company started in 2006, back when they thought that blogs were going to be the important things companies would want to listen to — Twitter wasn’t yet known outside of SF geek circles and Facebook was still for college kids only).
4. How big the market potentially is for customer service. He notes that when Radian6 started very few companies were trying to use social media, now nearly every company is and he thinks we are still very early as companies try to find new ways to delight their customers.
5. Will compensation change inside companies due to how well we use social systems like Chatter? (Dups Wijayawardhana, CEO of Empire Avenue, a system that studies the value we put into these things, was standing nearby during this interview).
6. What to do with employees who build their own brand separately from the company.

Anyway, it was an interesting conversation and gives you some insights into what one of the leaders in the social world is thinking. Hope you enjoy.


11 thoughts on “Getting inside Salesforce’s social acquisition strategy; interview of CEO of $340 million Radian6

  1. Giving the community the option to hear the interview, brilliant Robert! What a nice surprise interview. Loved listening to it. Thanks for sharing it.

    All the best,
    Trish (@Dayngr)
    Community Manager | Radian6


  2. I have to say, I sit down with a lot of CEO’s in my line of work, and in my brief time sitting in front of Marcel I found him one of those people who truly listen and process. Which means two things; he absorbs a huge amount of information and is able to pick out the bits that matter, and when he speaks you better pay attention because he goes straight to the crux of the matter 🙂

    Big congrats to Marcel et al.


  3. Nice perspective from Marcel on
    the importance of social in customer interactions. I shared some thoughts in
    the beginning of the week on my blog post on Moxie Insight about the Radian6
    acquisition, and I agree it further validates the importance of Social CRM in
    making companies more responsive to customers.


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