Who’s in Charge Around Here?

Mark Lonergan, January 3rd, 2023

In Novem­ber, Bret Tay­lor walked away from the Co-CEO role at Sales­force. He had been in that role for only 12 months and it is clear that he and Sales­Force founder Marc Benioff were pulling in dif­fer­ent direc­tions. There were dozens of arti­cles writ­ten in the wake of Taylor’s res­ig­na­tion cit­ing rea­sons for his abrupt departure.

  • Strate­gic Dif­fer­ences Accord­ing to For­tune Mag­a­zine, Tay­lor and Benioff dis­agreed about strat­e­gy and direc­tion for the com­pa­ny. In the end, Benioff remained to make those calls.
  • Lines of Demar­ca­tion Accord­ing to the Wall Street Jour­nal, Tay­lor and Benioff could not agree on who was doing what. There was gen­uine con­fu­sion on the part of cus­tomers and staff on who to go to and for what issues.
  • Per­son­nel Deci­sions In Bloomberg, it was report­ed that there were a num­ber of senior lead­ers at Sales­Force that Tay­lor want­ed to reas­sign and per­haps to move out. That wasn’t going to hap­pen with Marc Benioff still involved with the company.

Fact is that Co-CEO roles are dis­ap­pear­ing all over the tech­nol­o­gy mar­kets, and for all the rea­sons quot­ed above. Tough economies require a sin­gle lead­er­ship voice, rely­ing on a coher­ent struc­ture to see the com­pa­ny through. Investors have very strong opin­ions about elim­i­nat­ing this new-age con­cept — wit­ness com­pa­nies like Twit­ter and Square (now Box) and Ora­cle and Whole Foods. It’s time for boards of direc­tors and CEOs to accept that there can be only one per­son in charge at a time.