Skype for Business announces Salesforce integrations, while Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff is concerned about Microsoft-LinkedIn synergies

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According to the Office blog’s recent post today, the Microsoft and Salesforce partnership is only growing. But there may be more to it than that according to recent tweets by Marc Benioff.

First, let’s look at Skype for Salesforce. Salesforce is one of the early partners to benefit from the new Skype Web SDK. This SDK lets developers embed Skype or Skype for Business directly into their website. It was announced at Build 2016 and shown off with use cases like in telemedicine, where doctors can bake Skype right into their medical practice’s website.

Now the Skype Web SDK has been used to create Skype for Salesforce. This allows Salesforce users to access Skype for Business directly within Salesforce. Salesforce users can move their cursor over to the Skype for Business icon to see if their coworkers are available, and then initiate a call from the same Window, making collaboration much simpler across Salesforce’s CRM and Microsoft’s Office 365.

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Skype for Salesforce screenshot via Office Blogs

Skype for Salesforce is currently in beta and only available to Salesforce Enterprise or Unlimited Edition customers who also have a Skype for Business Online sign in. The beta is also only supported currently in Microsoft Edge and Apple Safari, but there are plans for additional support in Chrome and Firefox in the near future.

This latest news from the Office Blog seems to be more proof of Microsoft and Salesforce’s new relationship. Since Satya Nadella took the helm, Salesforce CEO and Founder Marc Benioff had changed his tune about Microsoft. Benioff, once a man who talked of Microsoft’s irrelevance during the Ballmer days, suddenly was calling Nadella a “change agent” and said “I think you’ll continue to see perhaps surprising relationships in the year ahead.”

Indeed, Microsoft and Salesforce have partnered in recent years to build more connections between Office 365 and Salesforce CRM. But could Skype for Salesforce mark the end of this budding relationship?

Despite the recent progress in burying hatchets, Microsoft and Salesforce recently butted heads over bidding for LinkedIn. As we’ve reported before, the bidding war drove up the price and in the end, only Microsoft had the ability to pay in cash and not a cash-equity combo. And so Microsoft won out, buying LinkedIn for $26.2 billion in one of the largest tech acquisitions ever.

And now it looks like there are some sour grapes leftover from the deal, as Marc Benioff fired off a couple of angry tweets today, via MSPoweruser.com.

In the tweets, Benioff is upset over recent statements by Microsoft’s Scott Guthrie. Guthrie was speaking at a Deutsche Bank Technology Conference about a number of things, including Dynamics. MSPoweruser tracked down the transcript, and it isn’t clear what Benioff feels is so anticompetitive.

Dreamforce 2014, Salesforce.com's user and developer conference held at the Moscone Convention Center and various hotels in San Francisco from October 12-16, 2014. (Jakub Mosur Photography)

Dreamforce 2014, Salesforce.com’s user and developer conference held at the Moscone Convention Center and various hotels in San Francisco from October 12-16, 2014. (Jakub Mosur Photography)

In a response to a question about Dynamics, Guthrie mentions that HP just switched from Salesforce’s CRM to Dynamics. Guthrie speculates Dynamics is going to become more competitive with other CRM vendors like Oracle and Salesforce for a number of reasons, some of which involve Azure and Office 365.

But Guthrie also speaks a great deal about future integration between LinkedIn and Dynamics. He mentions how LinkedIn’s social graph, its mass of data on professionals, their history, and their contacts, will give Dynamics an edge over competitors in the years to come.

This seems to be what Benioff is taking issue with. His tweets claim it would be an anticompetitive practice for Microsoft to bundle LinkedIn’s data with Dynamics and deny competitors access to that social graph. His second tweet pleas to the FTC and Margrethe Vestager of the European Commission for Competition to look into what he perceives as anticompetitive bundling plans. This seems to be a play to throw Microsoft’s deal into question during the regulatory approval process.

But quite frankly, Salesforce was bidding above $20 billion for LinkedIn, too. Are we really to believe Marc Benioff was ready to pay $20 billion to turn around and give the data away to his competitors? Despite improvements in Microsoft and Salesforce’s relationship since Nadella took the helm, it looks like the LinkedIn deal might be souring their new partnership, at least from Benioff’s perspective. Quite frankly, in this writer’s opinion the only thing that seems anticompetitive about all of this is Benioff’s request that regulators eliminate a potential threat to his CRM’s dominant market position.

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