The fireside chat with Mike Lazerow, CMO of Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud, at Internet Week was billed as a discussion about the “current state of advertising and marketing technology” and the startup space. It meandered greatly into a kind of general talk about company culture and the importance of philanthropy.
Apparently Salesforce is an awesome place to work—basically all the execs from companies acquired by Salesforce, including Lazerow’s baby Buddy Media, are still deeply involved, which is pretty rare—and CEO Marc Benioff is huge on philanthropy. Salesforce was built on the philanthropic precept that, as Lazerow put it, “we can do good as we do well.”
Even before Salesforce was Salesforce and making utter bank, Benioff insisted on donating 1% of all profit, and a good chunk of stock and employee time, to nonprofits. To this day Salesforce employees get six paid days off to do whatever they want to give back to the community, whether that’s helping build a house or lending a hand at their kids’ school. Apparently the company has donated something like 50 million hours of community service since its founding which is, admittedly, whoa.
“If you’re just a company that’s profit-driven, the customer is not going to be connected to you in a fundamental or meaningful way, and neither are employees,” Lazerow said.
Other than that, this is what I learned:
1) Lazerow went to journo school at Northwestern back in the day, followed by a stint after graduation as a writer for The Delaware State News covering the poultry industry. In that role he became well acquainted with then (DE-D) Senator Joe Biden.
2) Lazerow loves apps because they’re the “purest way” to use your phone. “Great apps transform your life,” he said. “We live with these phones and every company needs to be in their customer’s pocket, whether that happens through credit cards, their mobile phone, or through social.”
And Salesforce, of course, practices what it preaches with Salesforce1, which is like the marketing cloud to end all marketing clouds. “Anyone who wants to talk about my business, see me afterwards,” Lazerow quipped. “It’s in my pocket.”
3) Lazerow is such an avid angel investor that he’s happily sunk money into more than 40 ventures and counting. His friends jokingly refer to him as a “drunk baby.”
“I’ve never met an idea I don’t like,” he said.
4) Lazerow has cool glasses.
5) Lazerow predicts that Buzzfeed will at some point in the near-ish future become the largest media company on the planet.
6) If Lazerow had his druthers there would be a better infrastructure in place to encourage and train programmers.
“I’d like to see a culture of creators in New York that’s not just creating content and media, which we have a lot of already [note from the writer of this article: mea culpa], but a culture of creating code,” he said.
7) When Lazerow first moved to New York in 2006, right before he founded Buddy Media with his wife Kass, the world was a different place. YouTube didn’t exist, Facebook was only two years old, and if you wanted to be involved in tech then San Fran was really the only place to go.
“Now it’s like Internet Week is every week,” Lazerow said. “It’s all we do.”