Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff praises former boss Larry Ellison for TikTok deal: He’s the ‘master of relevance’

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Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff praised Oracle chief Larry Ellison’s efforts to break into the social media space with a potential TikTok partnership. 

The enterprise software maker was approved for a deal in principle over the weekend to partner with the rapidly growing social media app, allowing it to avoid a U.S. shutdown. Oracle said it will become TikTok’s secure cloud provider and will become a minority investor with a 12.5% stake in the company.

Benioff said that the coroanvirus pandemic should be driving new urgency at companies, and praised Ellison’s boldness in buying a consumer-focused social media network — a company far outside of Oracle’s historical expertise.

“I’m so impressed by seeing them and everyone else make these aggressive moves,” Benioff said Wednesday on CNBC’s “Closing Bell.”

“Because I’m mostly worried about the companies that aren’t making aggressive moves. I’m calling CEOs who are friends of mine who are in paralysis and who aren’t making moves, and I’m saying, Look, you’ve got to get into participation. You’ve got to get out of paralysis and into participation. Larry Ellison is the master of relevance. This is a move to make him relevant. This is so important.” 

Securing the deal could help position Oracle as a winner in the cloud infrastructure market, as it takes on Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform. Zoom, which saw its usage soar due to the Covid-19 pandemic also selected Oracle to expand its cloud infrastructure earlier this year. 

Benioff may be looking to his own history: The CEO was pushing to acquire Twitter in 2016, but eventually listened to the counsel of advisors and shareholders who were against the deal. Since then, Benioff has overseen a number of deals at Salesforce, including data visualization company Tableau Software for $15.3 billion last summer.

Benioff and Ellison have a longtime relationship, as Benioff worked at under Ellison at Oracle for 13 years before starting Salesforce. The pair had a falling-out as Oracle began challenging Salesforce, but Benioff said the two are now “very close friends.”

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