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Salesforce's year of the boomerang: Here are the C-suite executives who joined, left, or returned in 2023

Ellen Thomas   

Salesforce's year of the boomerang: Here are the C-suite executives who joined, left, or returned in 2023
Marc Benioff, co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Salesforce. Justin Sullivan
  • Several former Salesforce employees rejoined the company this year as "boomerangs."
  • There were also high-profile departures of longtime executives.

The end of 2022 was marked by a series of executive departures at Salesforce, including the exit of co-CEO Bret Taylor, who had been heir apparent to CEO Marc Benioff.

2023 was also a year of change, starting with a major restructuring that included laying off 10% of the company's workforce and ending with some old familiar faces in the C-suite.

In the wake of pressure to up profit and cut costs from a group of activist investors, including Elliott Management and Starboard Value, some longtime company veterans left, and former executives have returned to help. Benioff affectionately refers to those who have re-joined as "boomerangs," and he has called for more to come join them as Salesforce ramps up generative AI efforts.

Meanwhile, chief operating officer Brian Millham's influence at the company is on the rise. Some have speculated he could be first in line to succeed Benioff as CEO — if and when Benioff decides to step down.

Below is a list of the major Salesforce executive changes in 2023.

COO Brian Millham took on additional responsibilities. He now oversees about 70% of Salesforce's employees.

COO Brian Millham took on additional responsibilities. He now oversees about 70% of Salesforce
Brian Millham      Salesforce

President and COO Brian Millham has been with Salesforce since 1999, but his influence at the company has ballooned in the last 18 months, which has caused some speculation that he could be first in line to succeed CEO Marc Benioff. In 2023, Millham's purview expanded to include marketing, employee success, and business technology, in addition to his other responsibilities — global sales, customer success, global alliances and channels, and professional services. Millham was promoted to COO, two years after a promotion to chief customer success officer and COO of global distribution.

Chief business officer Ebony Beckwith left Salesforce after 14 years.

Chief business officer Ebony Beckwith left Salesforce after 14 years.
Ebony Beckwith      Courtesy of Ebony Beckwith

By the time company veteran Ebony Beckwith left Salesforce in May, she held three different titles: chief business officer, chief of staff to Marc Benioff, and CEO of Salesforce Foundation. Neither Salesforce nor Beckwith gave a reason for her departure. Her LinkedIn profile has not been updated with a new job. Beckwith joined Salesforce in 2008 and began leading philanthropic efforts in 2014.

Former CMO Sarah Franklin is leaving the company at the end of the year to join Lattice as CEO.

Former CMO Sarah Franklin is leaving the company at the end of the year to join Lattice as CEO.
Sarah Franklin      Salesforce

After 15 years at Salesforce, Sarah Franklin has been named CEO of HR software startup Lattice, run by Jack Altman, brother of Sam Altman. She starts on January 2. In June, Franklin moved from her role as Salesforce's chief marketing officer to chair of the advisory board alongside Alex Dayon, who is retiring at the end of the year. Franklin was named president and CMO in 2021. She joined the company's marketing department in 2008.

Ariel Kelman returned to Salesforce as chief marketing officer.

Ariel Kelman returned to Salesforce as chief marketing officer.
Ariel Kelman      Oracle

Former Oracle CMO Ariel Kelman took the top marketing job at Salesforce in June. Kelman is one of Benioff's "boomerangs" — he first worked for Salesforce from 2005 to 2011, when he left to run worldwide marketing at Amazon Web Services. After eight years at AWS, Kelman spent a year and a half as CMO of Oracle. Kelman left Oracle in August of 2022 after the restructuring of the marketing organization he'd spent nearly two years building. At the time, sources told Business Insider that Kelman had clashed with Oracle CEO Safra Catz over the changes, which included mass layoffs.

Former Okta CMO Kendall Collins joined Salesforce as Marc Benioff's chief of staff.

Former Okta CMO Kendall Collins joined Salesforce as Marc Benioff
Kendall Collins      Okta

Another of Benioff's "boomerangs," Collins joined Salesforce in April as chief business officer and chief of staff, roles previously held by Ebony Beckwith. Collins first worked for Salesforce from 2004 to 2016 after spending the first few years of his career at Oracle. Most recently, Collins was CMO of cloud software company Okta. He left that role in February of 2022, staying on as an advisor.

Former chief people officer Brent Hyder left Salesforce in August for VF Corp.

Former chief people officer Brent Hyder left Salesforce in August for VF Corp.
Brent Hyder      Salesforce

Hyder's relatively short — but busy — run at Salesforce ended in August when he left to join apparel group VF Corp. as chief people officer. In the four years he was at Salesforce, Hyder's human resources organization oversaw a pandemic-fueled hiring spree, followed by a major restructuring initiative that included laying off 10% of the company. In June, Insider reported that Hyder offended some employees with comments he made during a Pride Month event. Hyder joined Salesforce in 2019 from Gap Inc., where he had been chief people officer.

Miguel Milano joined Salesforce as chief revenue officer.

Miguel Milano joined Salesforce as chief revenue officer.
Miguel Milano      Celonis

Milano joined Salesforce as president and CRO in August. Another "boomerang," Milano first worked at Salesforce from 2011 to 2020, eventually overseeing the international sales organizations for Europe and the Middle East, Latin and Central Americas, Africa, and Asia-Pacific regions. Milano left Salesforce in 2020 for the German data processing company Celonis, where he was CRO until his return to Salesforce. Former Salesforce CRO Gavin Patterson left the company in January.

Lidiane Jones is leaving Slack to take the top job at Bumble.

Lidiane Jones is leaving Slack to take the top job at Bumble.
Lidiane Jones      Salesforce

Jones, a Salesforce product executive who was named CEO of Slack in January, was recently appointed to succeed Whitney Wolfe Herd as CEO of Bumble Inc. Jones starts at Bumble in January. She joined Salesforce in 2019 from Sonos Inc. and quickly worked her way up from vice president of product for Commerce Cloud to overseeing the entire division. Denise Dresser, a Salesforce executive, will replace Jones as Slack CEO.

Advisory board chair Alex Dayon is retiring at the end of the year.

Advisory board chair Alex Dayon is retiring at the end of the year.
Alex Dayon      Salesforce

Dayon, a 15-year Salesforce veteran, is set to retire at the end of the year, Salesforce said in June. He is currently president and special advisor to the CEO, working remotely from Paris, according to his LinkedIn. He was previously president and chairman of the advisory board, reporting directly to Benioff, and before that, held chief strategy at product roles. Dayon joined Salesforce in 2008 and at one point, was gifted an electric BMW by Benioff.

A new chief legal officer joined. The chief trust officer left.

A new chief legal officer joined. The chief trust officer left.
Salesforce is launching its net zero marketplace, a carbon credit trading platform.      Rafael Henrique/Getty Images

After 18 months as Salesforce's chief trust officer, Vikram Rao left the company in October to take the top cybersecurity role at Atlassian.

In June, Sabastian V. Niles joined Salesforce as president and chief legal officer. Niles, formerly a partner at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen, & Katz, had been counseling Salesforce as it responded to a group of activist investors earlier in the year.


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