Did Salesforce disinvite Marketo from attending this year’s Dreamforce?

At Salesforce’s Dreamforce conference last year, Marketo was a highly visible presence. The company was a preferred CRM partner for Salesforce and it had a large, colorful stall set up at a prime entrance location at the conference. This year, Marketo is a conspicuous absence.

According to an industry source, Marketo had not been invited back to attend this year’s Dreamforce conference. This highlights the fact that Marketo is now a direct competitor to Salesforce’s own marketing automation platform, ExactTarget. That’s a big change from how Marketo used to be seen in the marketing automation space. 

A year ago, enterprise marketing automation software bigwigs like ExactTarget and Oracle’s Eloqua still regarded Marketo as a platform that catered only to small and midsize companies. This year, Marketo’s been vocal about going after enterprise-level clients, and has landed a few big wins. While Salesforce might be loathe to admit it, Marketo’s definitely been punching above its own weight, and Salesforce’s salespeople wouldn’t exactly be thrilled to see it exhibiting on their conference floor.

Last year, Marketo had plenty of visibility at Dreamforce, despite Salesforce’s then recent acquisition of ExactTarget. But it’s likely that Marketo had already paid for its sponsorship and locked down its space on the conference exhibition floor well before the ExactTarget deal had been finalized. Now that it’s officially a competitor, there’s more of a conflict of interest that would prevent it from attending, let alone exhibiting.

Despite the snub, Marketo continues to be a big CRM partner for Salesforce, which only adds to the “frenemy” dynamic of an already complicated industry. Lets not forget that Salesforce continues to be both a customer and competitor of Oracle’s cloud systems, and Microsoft is both a partner for Salesforce CRM and customer of Salesforce’s ExactTarget Marketing Cloud.

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