Salesforce.com bids for the skyline as well as the cloud

Profile picture for user slauchlan By Stuart Lauchlan May 21, 2014
Summary:
It might be part of some cunning plan to be even closer to the clouds, but Salesforce.com’s ambitions to dominate urban landscapes are becoming more and more apparent. Enter - The Toothbrush!

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The re-named Salesforce Tower London

It might be part of some cunning plan to be even closer to the clouds, but Salesforce.com’s ambitions to dominate urban landscapes are becoming more and more apparent.

At the Salesforce1 World Tour event in London today, the company made the surprise announcement that the UK capital’s iconic Heron Tower is to be renamed the Salesforce Tower London with immediate effect.

At 230 meters (755 ft) tall, including a 28 meters (92 ft) mast, the former Heron Tower is the tallest building in the City of London.

The name change follows Salesforce.com becoming the tower’s single largest tenant having taken an additional 50,000 sq ft on a 15 year lease to create what the firm is calling “two contiguous villages” over floors 26-31.

Gerald Ronson, Chief Executive of Heron International which built and owns the building, said:

“We set out to create an iconic building that would set new standards for innovation and quality in commercial office space attracting the finest international organisations. We are delighted that this concept has been fully embraced by Salesforce.com and to have reached an agreement with them to rename the building Salesforce Tower London to reflect their status as the building’s largest occupier.”

The London deal comes a month after the cloud services firm announced that it would also be having the tallest building in its native San Francisco with a commitment to be the main tenant of the due-to-be-completed-in-2017, 61-storey Transbay Tower, which will of course also be renamed Salesforce Tower.

Including the 700,000 square feet Salesforce will lease in the new building, the company will have 2 million square feet of office space in the city. The company currently has 14,000 employees, including 4,000 in the Bay Area, most of whom work in the city.

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The future Salesforce Tower San Francisco

The Salesforce Tower unveiling was sufficiently big news to attract some high profile California luminaries to the announcement, such as San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Representative Nancy Pelosi. Lee said:

"It's not just about an expanding company. “It's about a company that has faith in our city and is demonstrating that.”

A similar argument was made in London by Salesforce.com chief operating officer George Hu who spoke of the company wanting to “put down roots” in the UK.

London’s Mayor Boris Johnson didn’t follow in his San Francisco counterpart's footsteps. The audience in London will be divided between disappointment and relief in equal measures…

The decision to expand the London operation is the latest sign of increased investment in expansion in Europe for Salesforce.com. In its most recent quarter, the firm's European arm turned in the highest revenue growth, outpacing both the America's and Asia Pacific, while there are plans to open 4 data centers in the UK, France and Germany over the next two years to cater to European data sovereignty needs. (More on that tomorrow!)

That said, the news caused a bit of a stir on Twitter with some commentators unsure about the idea.

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But Salesforce.com’s own chief scientist JP Rangaswami mounted a defence from his sick bed:

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Verdict

It was probably the biggest surprise in the Salesforce1 Tour keynote and on a serious note, it's an excellent proof point of Salesforce.com’s commitment to expansion in Europe.

But will it, as Redmonk’s James Governor mischievously suggests, open the floodgates to competitive re-naming of landmarks by rival tech firms?

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The Toothbrush

What might well happen though is another re-branding in line with the British propensity to give iconic buildings their own nicknames. So, the Swiss Re building is known as The Gherkin, the Leadenhall Building is The Cheesegrater and the new 20 Fenchurch Street skyscraper is dubbed The Walkie Talkie.

So what to call Salesforce Tower London? Here at diginomica we’re sticking our necks out and saying that given Marc Benioff’s propensity for waving his Internet of Things Phillips dental hygiene equipment around of late, there’s really only one option.

Ladies and gentlemen, we give you...The Toothbrush!

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Disclosure: at time of writing, Salesforce.com is a premium partner of diginomica.