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Bret Taylor steps down as co-CEO of Salesforce, leaving Marc Benioff alone at the helm


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Bret Taylor of Salesforce in 2019.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images


It’s a surprise given that Benioff had closely embraced Taylor as a younger technology leader. Taylor played a key role in Salesforce’s bid to acquire Slack, its largest transaction to date. Many onlookers saw Taylor as the person who could one day take over for Benioff as the head of Salesforce.

Exactly one year ago, Salesforce promoted Taylor from his positions of president and chief operating officer to be co-CEO alongside Benioff. At that time, Benioff described Taylor as “a phenomenal industry leader who has been instrumental in creating incredible success for our customers and driving innovation throughout our company.”

The announcement comes almost three years after Keith Block, an Oracleleft as co-CEO of the company. In February 2020, Keith Block departed as co-CEO. Block had been the company’s operating chief before being promoted in 2018.

“I am grateful for six fantastic years at Salesforce,” Taylor said in a statement. “Marc was my mentor well before I joined Salesforce and the opportunity to partner with him to lead the most important software company in the world is career-defining. After a lot of reflection, I’ve decided to return to my entrepreneurial roots. Salesforce has never been more relevant to customers, and with its best-in-class management team and the company executing on all cylinders, now is the right time for me to step away.”

Taylor joined Salesforce through the company’s acquisition of Taylor’s productivity software startup Quip in 2016.

It’s been a busy year for Taylor, as he was chairman of Twitter heading into Elon Musk’s acquisition of the social networking company, a deal completed last month.

Benioff told CNBC that he liked the idea of having someone share the CEO role so they could have a “divide and conquer strategy” and so he could spend time investing, doing philanthropy and mentoring other business leaders.

— CNBC’s Ari Levy contributed to this report.

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