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December 6, 2022

Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield stepping down as musical chairs continues at Salesforce

The founder of the collaboration app is leaving the company in the new year. He is one of several executives departing the Salesforce stable.

By Matthew Gooding

Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield will leave the company in January, it has been confirmed. Butterfield’s departure from the collaboration platform comes as its parent company, Salesforce, makes several changes at C-Suite level across its portfolio of companies.

Slack founder Stewart Butterfield, pictured in 2019 when the company debuted on the New York Stock Exchange. His departure from the company was announced yesterday. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Butterfield founded Slack in 2013 having developed the platform to aid developers working on a game he planned to launch. The entrepreneur, who previously founded photo-sharing platform Flickr before selling it to Yahoo, has led the company ever since and oversaw its $27bn acquisition by Salesforce last year.

Stewart Butterfield leaves Slack: replacement CEO named

Confirming the news of Butterfield’s departure, a Slack statement said: “Stewart is an incredible leader who created an amazing, beloved company in Slack. He has helped lead the successful integration of Slack into Salesforce and today Slack is woven into the Salesforce Customer 360 platform.”

He will be replaced by Lidiane Jones, who leaves her role as executive VP and GM for digital experiences clouds at Salesforce to take up her new position. “Stewart also was instrumental in choosing Lidiane Jones as the next Slack CEO to lead it into its next chapter,” the Slack statement added. “Lidiane has a strong background in customer and enterprise tech and has been among Salesforce’s leadership for over three years. We’re grateful for Stewart and excited for Lidiane as she takes over the reins at Slack.”

Jones took to Twitter to describe how “proud” she is to take up her new position

C-Suite changes at Salesforce impact Slack and Tableau

Butterfield’s departure comes hot on the heels of two other senior executives leaving the Salesforce stable. Last week, co-CEO Bret Taylor surprisingly announced he was leaving the business at the end of January to “return to his entrepreneurial roots”.

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He had been in post for just over a year, and his departure means Salesforce founder Marc Benioff will run the company alone until a new co-CEO is appointed. Taylor was an internal hire and Benioff could again look within his team for a replacement, though no news on a successor has been released.

“It’s bittersweet that Bret has decided to step down as my co-CEO,” said Benioff. “He made his mark on Salesforce as an incredible technologist, leader and friend to us all. Bret founded two incredible companies so it’s understandable why he wants to return to his entrepreneurial roots. I’m excited to see his next chapter unfold, as I’ll always be his biggest champion and he’ll always be part of the Salesforce ‘Ohana.”

Meanwhile, Mark Nelson, CEO of Salesforce’s data platform Tableau, announced last week he would be leaving the company immediately. He had been in post for just under two years following Adam Selipsky’s departure to AWS.

It has been reported that no direct replacement will be sought for Nelson, with his responsibilities being incorporated into the wider Salesforce leadership team.

Having thrived during the pandemic, Salesforce has seen revenue growth hit by soaring inflation and interest rates which have buffeted the tech industry, with revenue growth of 14% in the three months to the end of October 2022, down from 26% the year before, though the company’s overall quarterly income was slightly above analyst expectations, at $7.84bn.

The company has come under scrutiny from activist investors looking for higher returns, and last month laid off “hundreds” of staff. It had previously instigated a hiring freeze until January 2023 and laid off all its contract workers in an effort to cut costs.

Read more: Microsoft faces EU probe over Teams integration to Office365

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