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Conflict existed before Bret Taylor left Salesforce

Salesforce co-founder and CEO Marc Benioff looked to give a truly tearful farewell to his mentee and friend Bret Taylor last week, telling anybody who would listen that he was devastated by Bret’s departure.

Maybe that doesn’t tell the complete story. There was friction between the two CEOs since Taylor also served as the chair of the Twitter board until Elon Musk purchased the company at the end of October and disbanded the board.

Certainly, the most peculiar aspect of the article was that, Benioff was unhappy that Taylor wasn’t spending enough time on engineering and too much time with other CEOs and customers.

This is the sort of thing that Keith Block, who served as co-CEO until 2020, brought to the table. If Taylor’s resignation was due to his inability to complete a project, then you could expect him to devote most of his time to engineering.

The study went on to indicate that employees were unsure of whose co-CEO they should be reporting to, which calls into question the very concept of having two CEOs. Anshu Sharma, a former Salesforce employee and current founder and CEO of Skyflow, made this point clear.

How come you need a co-CEO if you don’t even know what that is? The company has a chief executive officer and four additional chief executive officer-level positions. When asked, “What does a co-CEO get up and do that a CEO doesn’t already do?” he was referring to the daily routine of a CEO and a co-CEO.

It’s a reasonable inquiry, and it seems that even Benioff and others within Salesforce had difficulties answering it, if the WSJ piece is to be believed.

It also raises the issue of whether Benioff’s tears during the announcement last week were genuine or fake tears. It appears that the desire to return to construction wasn’t the sole motivation for Taylor’s departure.