Marc Benioff, the founder of the cloud software services company Salesforce, announced this week he will purchase Time magazine, a struggling icon of the news industry, for $190 million.

He follows the lead of numerous other technology multi-billionaires who have purchased important publications in the last few years, including Jeff Bezos, who bought the Washington Post, and Laurene Powell Jobs, wife of Steve Jobs, who purchased The Atlantic magazine.

Salesforce is one of the most successful technology companies in the U.S., and the largest employer in San Francisco, with annual revenue of $11 billion, and a market cap of $118 billion.

Salesforce successfully commercialized a cloud computing service called Software as a Service, or SaaS, for its primary product offering, which helps businesses manage sales cycles with their customers.

More about Benioff and Salesforce

Benioff, a San Francisco native, reportedly conceived the idea for Salesforce while floating off the Big Island in Hawaii more than 20 years ago. He launched his company from his apartment in 1999.

He was something of a child genius, designing apps from an early age, and launching a programming business as a teenager that earned him $1,500 a month—reportedly enough to pay for his own tuition by the time he went to the University of Southern California. He briefly wrote code for Apple in the 1980s before becoming one of the youngest vice presidents at Oracle, where he focused on sales and strategy.

Salesforce and the cloud

Salesforce was an early pioneer of using SaaS for commercial enterprises. SaaS is one way that consumers and businesses use the cloud, accessing software from distant servers via the Internet.

Want to learn more about the cloud computing industry? Read here.

Salesforce is active in an industry called customer relationship management, or CRM. It’s an industry, largely developed by Salesforce, devoted to using data to manage relationships with current and potential customers.

Rather than sell CDs with the company’s software, or otherwise installing its software on customer networks, Salesforce gives its customers access to Salesforce’s products from the company’s own network, on a subscription basis.

In so doing, Salesforce has lowered the costs of its software product, enabling customers to tap into the most recent version of the software, without having to license the product themselves and monitor for the latest updates.

More about the cloud

The cloud computing industry has three different components. In addition to SaaS, there is Infrastructure as a Service, which allows businesses to host their offerings on servers in the cloud; and Platform as a Service, which enables customers to run multiple software applications from a distant computer network.

Salesforce competes directly with Oracle, SAP, and Microsoft, which have similar CRM products.

Some other large cloud computing companies include:

  • Amazon (Amazon Web Services)
  • Microsoft (Azure)
  • Google (Google Cloud Platform)
  • Oracle
  • SAP
  • IBM

Amazon and Google provide cloud infrastructure services. That means they host the servers that store information for other companies that use the cloud to deliver services. Salesforce, for example, uses Amazon Web Services for its offering.

Tech titans that own publications

  • Time magazine was one of the most famous magazines in the print news world in the 20th century, owned by Time Inc. Founded nearly 100 years ago as a news journal tackling some of the toughest stories of the times, the magazine has since fallen on hard times as its readership has shrunk and advertising for print media has dried up. In 2017, Time Inc. sold itself to Meredith Corp. for $2 billion.
  • Jeff Bezos purchased the Washington Post for $250 million in 2013.
  • Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Steve Jobs, purchased a controlling stake in the Atlantic magazine in 2017 for an undisclosed sum.
  • Marc Benioff has an estimated personal fortune of $6.7 billion.

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