Marc Benioff has yet to satisfy the most powerful activist investor. Elliott Management demands a 'sustainable leadership plan' for Salesforce.
- Salesforce reported strong results, a huge new share buyback plan, and concessions for activist investors.
- That wasn't enough for Elliott Management, one of the most feared activist hedge funds.
Marc Benioff remains in the icy embrace of the world's most feared activist investor.
Salesforce reported strong results on Wednesday, announced an extra $10 billion in share buybacks, and scrapped its M&A committee, signalling no more big, pricey acquisitions.
That wasn't enough for Elliott Management, one of the activist investors that has built a large stake in Salesforce and has been pushing for changes.
"Much work remains," Elliott wrote in a statement that was posted on Twitter Wednesday by Jesse Cohn, a partner at the firm. "Salesforce needs a sustainable leadership plan and a board that demonstrates it can provide accountability through proper oversight."
The comment about a leadership plan is likely referring to a succession crisis that erupted at Salesforce recently when several top executives left the company. Bret Taylor, in particular, was seen as a successor to Benioff as CEO, but Taylor is now running a new startup instead.
Benioff, who is CEO, chairman and co-founder of Salesforce, will have to fix this succession crisis to fully appease activist investors, Insider reported earlier on Wednesday.
Company insiders, former employees and Wall Street analysts increasingly expect Salesforce to put a succession plan in place soon. The likely goal is not to oust Benioff, but rather to develop a bench of executive talent who can take over from him in the future. One possible option would be a revitalized board that focuses on improving margins while also considering succession planning.
"The question is who would be next in line?" Mark Moerdler, a veteran tech analyst at Bernstein, told Insider earlier this week. "There's not a lot of people sitting on the bench."
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